“Oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women!
There is so much yet to be done.”
Susan B. Anthony
I am going to do my very best not to fly into a feminist rant, but it’s very difficult not be offended as a woman, survivor of abuse, and human being when a “respectable” (see George Will, I can use snarky quotations too) publication like The Washington Post publishes this kind of anti-female garbage.
In his “opinion” article Pulitzer Prize–winner Mr. George F. Will claims:
“Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating. They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.”
He goes on to attack the “supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. ‘sexual assault’” by providing an example of a college student who was forcibly held down and raped by someone she had been previously “hooking up” with. Despite the fact that this woman clearly reported she had said no, Mr. Will apparently believes this doesn’t count as a sexual assault because she didn’t physically try to stop him? Or because she waited six weeks to report the incident? Or maybe because she had previously had sexual relations with him, so that meant she was fair game? Or was it because she was asking for it since she was lying in bed with him?
I’m not really sure exactly what Mr. Will is asserting as justification to how this isn’t sexual assault. Perhaps he would like to clarify. In fact, maybe he would like to do so to the parents of the girl he just publicly ridiculed for reporting a rape (because obviously she was doing it for the coveted victimhood privilege… gosh I wish that existed when I was in college… I would totally have made up a story about being assaulted)
Then, not having dug a deep enough hole for himself, Mr. Will then goes on to criticize the utilized definitions of sexual assault referring to them as:
“capacious definitions of sexual assault that can include not only forcible sexual penetration but also nonconsensual touching. Then add the doctrine that the consent of a female who has been drinking might not protect a male from being found guilty of rape.”
Capacious indeed. I could see where it is a real stretch to consider “nonconsensual touching” and having sex with a woman too drunk to give consent under the umbrella term of sexual assault.
In truth, I don’t find it surprising at all that conservative white man with an ivy league education would find it difficult to understand let alone empathize with the amount of unwanted sexual advances that the young women of this country experience on a regular basis. Of course he would find it offensive that women wish to pursue higher education without fear of being groped or raped by their coeds. It is a totally unreasonable request. Why should we as women expect to have access to education without having to fear for our virtue when we clearly belong barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? If we all just accepted our place in society, we would be safe at home under the protection of our husbands. We clearly have brought all of this on ourselves. Right George?
What I do find surprising and downright offensive is that The Washington Post would publish this kind of damaging misinformation.
In a single, narrow minded and uninformed article, this man has undermined the issue of rape on college campuses, claimed that the prevalence of rape is grossly overestimated without any actual data to back his claim (beyond statistics from a single university which did not include any surveys of women on campus, but solely reported cases), and openly shamed victims of sexual assault by claiming that victim privilege encourages false reporting.
I think my head may just explode from the total lack of sense this article makes. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE someone take this man and put him in a room of survivors of rape. Make him listen to their stories and hear first hand what it is like to be re-victimized by society. Let him get an idea of just how traumatic it is to be betrayed and violated sexually by someone you know and trust. Maybe then he will understand that trigger warnings are not a measure for “students whose tender sensibilities would be lacerated by unexpected encounters with racism, sexism, violence (dammit, Hamlet, put down that sword!) or any other facet of reality that might violate a student’s entitlement to serenity.”
Better yet, have him watch The Invisible War or read When Women Refuse, just someone please educate him. Then while you are at it, please educate society. This type of propaganda is not okay. It only serves to set women back; and when you set back women, you set back society as a whole. We make up half the population. Women’s issues are Society’s issues. It’s time for society to start caring about violence against women.
There are good reasons why only a small fraction of assaulted women come forward. The first is that due to lack of education and awareness, many women don’t realize they have been assaulted immediately. This does not make what happened to them less of a crime. The second is the overwhelming and pervasive victim shaming and blaming that goes on in our culture of which Mr. Will has so eloquently and graciously provided an example. The reality for survivors is a far cry from any coveted privilege. Rather it is an anxiety ridden time filled with despair and self loathing which is only coupled by prevalent public shaming and ridicule.
The only privilege I have ever seen associated with being a survivor of violence against women is SURVIVING because there are many women who don’t. But then, they were probably all asking for it too, right Mr. Will?
There is a reason the #YesAllWomen campaign exists.
I’d just like to ask Mr. Will when the last time was that he felt he needed to carry mace? A rape whistle? How about have an escort walk him to his car (for protection, not as a paid service)? Watch his drink to avoid getting roofied? Or watch his alcohol intake in general? … the list goes on and on.
My point is, George Will, that you have a lot to learn about the other half of the population before you start accusing us of lying to seek out a privileged victimhood. Walk a few miles in our shoes and then come back and tell us how coveted it is to be a survivor of sexual assault or violence against women in general.
PS. Just in case you think this backward thinking is an isolated incident, check out this other gem from the Washington Post. They have concluded that the answer to ending violence against women is to marry… which someone should have told my ex husband because I’m pretty sure he became physically violent after we were married. He must not have read their article.