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Letter from the Department of Women and Gender Studies

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To the editor:

Our department is committed to the principle of free speech. We wish, therefore, to go on record as opposing in the strongest possible terms the invitation that has been issued to Milo Yiannopoulos, who has tried to silence the free speech of others by drowning it out with abusive, hate-filled rhetoric. In an educational context, there is nothing to be learned from his presence except a negative lesson—that the most deliberately offensive and divisive voices are rewarded with attention they do not deserve. That is not what UD should be teaching.

The Department of Women and Gender Studies

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89 COMMENTS

  1. The letter shows an astounding lack of self-awareness. You claim Milo silences the speech of others while you’re engaging in the speech you claim he silences. Last week, The Review wrote an editorial condemning his speech. You wrote a letter this week. You can schedule protests outside of the event, host forums of your own that refute his arguments, and you can even attend the speech and challenge him in-person at the Q&A. Whose voice is being drowned out? Heck, you’re part of an ideologically homogeneous state-funded university department that is devoted to educating students against the ideas Milo espouses. But actually addressing his arguments requires effort, and it’s easier to just silence opinions that challenge your beliefs. You could have started addressing his arguments here in your letter, but you opted for the intellectually lazy route: label him with an -ist, -ism, or -phobia, then subsequently dismiss anything he has to say. This is a disservice to students who are interested in learning more about the issues Milo discusses and robs those on the fence of hearing valuable counter arguments to Milo’s speech.

    Of course there are lessons to be learned from his presence. He makes claims regarding issues under national debate such as the size and causes of the gender wage gap (1), rape culture on college campuses (2), the Muslim world’s general intolerance for the LGBT+ community and women’s rights (3), and other issues that people argue in person and online every day. People believe this stuff, and uninviting Milo won’t change that.

    There are arguments against all of these points. For example, cultural pressures on women force them into lower paying jobs (4). Muslims in the United States have become more tolerant of homosexuality over time, with younger Muslims exhibiting more tolerance than older generations (5). My superficial search for a response to the Yoffe article didn’t turn up a good counterargument that didn’t rely on self-reported statistics with murky definitions of sexual assault. Maybe you could, I don’t know, educate people like me? Send me a study that doesn’t include self-selected participants? Here’s an opportunity for education and for you to exercise your speech to oppose Milo’s. You’re educators. Do your job.

    1. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/05/the-biggest-myth-about-the-gender-wage-gap/276367/

    2. http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2014/12/college_rape_campus_sexual_assault_is_a_serious_problem_but_the_efforts.html

    3. http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-morality/

    4. http://www.epi.org/publication/womens-work-and-the-gender-pay-gap-how-discrimination-societal-norms-and-other-forces-affect-womens-occupational-choices-and-their-pay/

    5. http://www.people-press.org/2011/08/30/section-5-political-opinions-and-social-values/

    • great statement on who is silencing who. they have an opportunity to speak to these people every day and milo when and only if he is allowed to come and talk or if they seek him out.

    • So I’m not going to waste my time on most of your comment, but the “murky definitions of sexual assault” line is one that I will respond to, briefly.

      “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”
      -The United States Department of Justice

      Milo has directly belittled any person’s (not just women’s) claims of sexual assault multiple times. “One in five women will be sexually assaulted…leftists widen the definition of sexual assault to include touching boobs, or an unwanted kiss. You know, this is just normal human sexuality” -Milo. That is not ‘human sexuality,’ it is sexual assault.

        • So, let me get this straight. If I were to say “Oh no he offends me because I say so, and I heard this statistic etc etc” I’m “self-reporting” and don’t have a legitimate claim or argument.

          Yet, if I quote and define -using outside, legitimate sources- exactly why he enforces hateful and discriminatory thoughts and attitudes, I don’t have a legitimate claim or argument.

          • We can all be offended. But there is no constitutional right to shut someone up that offends us. Being offended is not the same as actual libel and slander.

          • A) I didn’t say I was offended.
            B) At the heart of this problem (not saying that everyone is standing for the same thing), no one is trying to “shut him up,” though that is certainly what some are saying. The issue is that people do not want the University of Delaware “endorsing” him by hosting his speech. He was invited to campus by a student organization. Withdrawing that invitation is not “shutting him up,” it is just saying that our campus may not be the place to hold this discussion. I agree with that. I am more than willing to engage in open debate with people with whom I disagree. Also, I am not “offended” by him. His rhetoric is such that it makes me, as a young adult female, feel unsafe on my own campus by the inspiration it provides young men. I am more than sure it gives the same feeling to people of color and those who follow Islam.

          • @Elizabeth Stubbs I don’t think the school is endorsing him by allowing one of the groups to invite him to speak. I also don’t understand how it makes you feel unsafe. I’m not sure if you’ve actually ever listened to him, because I have never once heard him tell young white men to go out and rape, pillage and plunder. I also don’t understand your comment about him offending other races. I mean the guy is very upfront about the fact that he prefers black men! AND why are you so concerned if he offends other races and/or religions? I can almost guarantee you the empowerment he gives young guys won’t cause them to round up a posse and have a public lynching. He is empowering them to be the MEN they are supposed to be – not a version of a man our current culture would have them to be. As a woman old enough to be your mom with a lot more life experience, I am telling you the stuff you are spewing out right now is going to come back and bite you in the butt because it’s not the real world. P.S. The best way to handle getting boob grabbed is a slap on the face, not whining about it. The other way is to stay away from drunk college boys. That’s my mom advice.

      • By “murky definitions,” I’m referring to legal definitions of sexual assault versus what “counts” in these studies. Your NCJRS link below doesn’t take me to the study, but your CDC link demonstrates exactly the murky definitions I was referring to. If you look at Appendix C: Victimization Questions on p. 116 of the PDF, you’ll see the question, “When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever had vaginal sex with you?” If you’re a woman hits a bowl then sleeps with a guy, you’ve been sexually assaulted. There’s no qualifier for unwanted or nonconsensual. If you’re drunk or high, you’ve been assaulted. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t think you were assaulted, the study would classify your encounter as sexual assault. Other similar studies classify a woman’s experience as assault even if they say they didn’t feel the incident was assault themselves (removing their agency). Or they rely on subjective interpretations of events but deem the offended person’s subjective experience as objective fact. For example, need to squeeze by someone at a party and find yourself brush by their backside? If they think you’ve assaulted them, you have.

        If you look at the DOJ study using the National Crime Victimization Survey, you’ll see the rate of sexual assault at 6.1 per 1,000 students. There is a great section on p. 2 that describes the differences between the NCVS survey and others like your CDC link. The major difference comes down to measuring crime vs. measuring public health. Link: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rsavcaf9513.pdf

        I also want to address your claims about Milo encouraging “horny young college boys to assault and take advantage of young women.” This is an absurd accusation, and if true, could be easily shown by looking at sexual assault rates at the universities where he’s talked against their typical rates of assault. If there was any sort of relationship between Milo’s speech and an increase in sexual assault, you can be darn sure it would have been raised by people who oppose him, and I’d agree it would be a legitimate reason to cancel his speech. Then again, gathering this data would require effort, and it’s easier to make unfalsifiable claims about feelings and offense to justify canceling Milo’s talk. I admire you for talking a stand on the boards here, especially given the overwhelming opposition to your comments. I hope you don’t fall into the same anti-intellectual, emotional reasoning that the department of women’s studies apparently engages in. There are facts and there are feelings. It’s important to know the difference.

      • The US military is aiding and abetting the bacha bazi trade in Afghanistan. I’ll make my judgements based on the nation’s actions rather than it’s words.

    • A clear, concise rebuke to this intolerant, illiberal position. As close to a “mic drop” as one will ever see in the real world.

  2. Wow, so you’re complaining about someone silencing free speech, while silencing free speech…feminists are truly hypocritical morons…sorry I forgot, trigger warning, you might get served and have to go back to your safe space to cry about rape culture

  3. The staff at Women & Gender studies at UD are painfully aware that since that Department’s inception, the graduates flourish at Whole Foods as Zucchini inspectors Part Time with a worthless degree.

  4. First the department of Women and gender studies said…”Our department is committed to the principle of free speech”….Oh?, Then they said… “We wish, therefore, to go on record as opposing in the strongest possible terms the invitation that has been issued to Milo Yiannopoulos”….But, they said the their department is committed to the principle of free speech. Or is it, they are committed to the principle of free speech only if they have approved it? Sounds like censorship, which is the hallmark of dictatorship!

    • Haha, of course you’re right Mark, but the Yoffe article links directly to a number of the questionable studies and it was easier to drop the Slate link instead of digging too much. I’ve already spent too much time on this!

  5. Committed to the principle of free speech, but opposes Milo’s right to speak. He doesn’t even promote hate, he promotes equality, and does so a hell of a lot more than your misandrist groups do. Trying to shut down rather than engaging in debate is just a form of cowardice. And if you really believe your cause is just, you would discuss it in a civilised manner and try to prove him wrong, not that you can.

    • One point – Milo does not have the AMERICAN right to free speech, as he is not a US Citizen. The UK has much more specific outlines for free expression. 🙂

      • Incorrect, anyone with a basic pre law background can explain to you the 14ths EPC is explicit that all laws apply to anyone within the US and resulting jurisdictions. Free speech is protected to anyone from anywhere so long as they are on US soil much like how we grant Miranda rights to anyone on US soil.

        Do these programs teach anything of value outside of the Frankfurt school’s critical theory?

      • I cannot tell whether or not your comment is serious. But if so, it is misleading, or factually in error. The protections of the First Amendment are not restricted to U.S. citizens, and the University of Delaware is in the U.S. and not in the U.K. So there’s a perfectly good sense in which Milo Y does have the “American right to free speech.”

  6. Open dialogue is cornerstone to academia. You posit that you’re in support of free speech, yet resort to mere jargon without providing a substantive reason to oppose Milo’s appearance on campus. Milo is the none of the aforementioned, his arguments are based in rationality and facts. His political ideology is vastly different (evidently) from those in the The Department of Women and Gender Studies, yet I postulate that a segment of the student body would agree and that many, while in disagreement, would benefit from an oration from the opposing side of the spectrum.

    “drowning it out with abusive, hate-filled rhetoric. ”
    By citing statistics to refute common arguments on the left? Facts, unfortunately, do not care about your feelings.

    I urge the University of Delaware to accept Milo’s appearance on campus. I, for one, will be there to revel in his splendid discourse.

  7. “Our department is committed to the principle of free speech. We wish, therefore, to go on record as opposing in the strongest possible terms someone else’s free speech.”

  8. Well said, many good points there Steve. I am a liberal and while I don’t agree with many of the things that Milo says I still believe he should be able to express his views. The fact that you claim to be committed to free speech but oppose his invitation to speak at our school is flat out laughable.

  9. Typical leftist…we are committed to free speech, as long as we agree with it. Also, women and gender studies? Would you like fries with that? Start practicing, that’s all your “studies” will get you.

  10. This is the most astonishing bunch of nonsensical gobbledygook I’ve ever seen produced by so-called academics. Because you are committed to free speech you strongly oppose allowing somebody with whom you disagree to speak on campus? You should be deeply embarrassed by your public display of ignorance.

  11. Hahahahahahahaha!!! This has got to be a joke, right? Good one!!! You celebrate free speech by condemning free speech! Whooo! My stomach hurts from laughing so hard!!! What a kidder you are…

  12. So you are committed to the principal of free speech, just not the practice if that free speech doesn’t fall in line with your personal beliefs. I wonder if blaring hypocrisy hurts?

  13. To the editor:

    Our department is committed to the principle of free speech. No platform this guy.

    The Department of Women and Gender Studies

  14. I like Steve’s comment, and I applaud him for all that he said. I am a woman who is ASHAMED of all of YOU! The only thing that you have accomplished here today by making this request is making women look WEAK! And by extension you have basically stated that your student body is not informed, or educated enough to make the decision for themselves individually, whether to go to such a ‘dangerous speech’ given by a ‘dangerous man’. I guess you cannot take the chance that they might actually LEARN something for a change, or worse that they will be in direct opposition to you and challenge you in class. Of course, you would probably just fail a student that did that – right?

    Your request states, “who has tried to silence the free speech of others by drowning it out with abusive, hate-filled rhetoric” – oh yeah? Well right back at you! You just did the EXACT same thing! You send your triggly-puffed minions out to ruin the entire speech making sure NO ONE hears a word, so who is the orchestrator of hate here? From my viewpoint – IT’S ALL OF YOU.

  15. Is this satire? For the students’ sake I can only hope so. This is why student debt is such a problem – they’re paying the salaries of far too many who have no business at the head of a classroom PLUS they’re not being adequately prepped to deal with the realities of the real world. It’s a double punch and our students deserve so much better.

    Milo counters delusion with articulate rebuttals that triggers these babies, not by outright quelling voices. That move is reserved for this department.

    Do these people seriously not realize that THEY are the ones responsible for the rise of Trump?

  16. Are you serious? Your second sentence cancels out the first. You can’t say you’re committed to free speech while trying to prevent someone from speaking.

  17. I cannot believe a Women and Gender Studies department would be so closed minded. Do you have such little faith in your students not to trust their judgement? How can someone ever know the truth if they are not exposed to the facts and the issues coming from both sides? You are the epitome of tyranny. Only your voice, your opinion and your views can be heard, anything to the contrary needs to be crushed or stamped out so not to confuse the small minds of those you pretend to teach. Milo has every right to his opinion and every right to make sure the truth is actually heard not a watered down politically correct version you so want to continue to smear all over those ivy halls of academia.

    • Really? You can’t believe it? You HONESTLY can’t believe a Women’s and Gender Studies department would be this closed minded?

  18. Of all of the criticisms you could come up with against Yiannopoulos, (and as the dept. of Women and Gender Studies you should have many), the best you could muster is that he “tried to silence the free speech”? Whoever cooked up this statement was either too inexcusably lazy to look up what Yiannopoulos actually says in his speaking tours and the videos of YOUR acolytes are drowning out HIS events, or more troubling, you don’t actually have researchers of any substance in Women and Gender Studies if you have to accuse his oftentimes amateurish baiting as “hate-filled” and “abusive” because you’re afraid you literally can’t bring a more persuasive case on the topics.

  19. Well said Steve. I have to add that this kind of behavior proves that we are being invaded by a group of idiotic, incompetent Nazis whose goals are to establish their criminal ideology imposing it and shutting down who ever opposes them. Imagine them with some power. They would destroy our society if they could. I feel now that this people are dangerous for humanity.

  20. Do you not realize by requesting to ban him from speaking at your school, you are shutting down Milo’s right to free speech? I am a 49-year-old divorced woman and I am appalled at how backwards and mean our country’s feminists have become. I believe because you have no real argument against people like Milo, it’s just easier to shut them down instead of engaging in meaningful debate.

  21. The utter lack of self awareness in this is amazing. You have become caricatures of yourself. Think really hard about what this is saying.

    You not only support Free Speech, but are committed to it, except you want to silence it. Then you engage in the most astounding feat of mental gymnastics and logical loops to somehow say that you must restrict someone’s free speech so that it doesn’t restrict free speech. Does that strike you as rational or even sane?

    This should be printed out and hung on every wall throughout academia as how to NOT present your side of a debate with anything approaching logical consistency.

    This would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad.

    • Your comment is forcing me to rush to a safe-place for moral and psychological support. Are safe spaces free? We can’t seem to find so much as a nickel between our degree-holding graduates for an entrance fee.

      /s Women & Gender Studies Dept.

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