ColumnWhat political pundit and professional asshat George Will doesn’t understand about rape could fill a book, and if you want to avoid domestic violence, just get married!
It’s been a really special week for promoting rape culture, blaming victims and spewing misconceptions about domestic violence.
Before we dig into what happened, the takeaway is this: Women want to get raped (or at least say they were raped) because they like attention. If you don’t like attention, get married—because married women are never assaulted.
You Lucky Rape Victim, You!
George Will, a respected-by-some political commentator often seen on Sunday morning news shows, wrote this in the Washington Post: “In colleges, more rape victims are coming forward because victimhood has become, ‘a coveted status that confers privileges’.”
He is arguing that all of the “special treatment” people who have been raped receive is endangering a generation of nice young men who are just boys being boys. AmIRight, GW? Oh, and it’s Obama’s fault for “riding to the rescue of ‘sexual assault’ victims.”
(Quick note: While we mostly talk about women speaking out against male assailants, this isn’t always the case. Imagine how cool it would be to be male rape victim? I bet there are even more privileges.)
Back to George Will’s horrifying, hurtful comments. In his column, he goes on to do some super special math in an attempt to diminish the problem of sexual assault and rape on college campuses.
Sorry, but the cat is out of the bag here—this is a really, really massive cultural problem.
The fact that 20 percent of women on a college campus will be a victim of sexual assault is hard to prove, not because it is based on fiction, as Will would have you believe, but because despite the fact that more people are speaking out, victims are still scared to come forward. Sadly, the number is probably higher.
People fear they will be blamed. They fear they will not be believed. They fear they will lose friends. At times, because our culture is so fucked up, they fear it’s their fault.
Don’t Want to be Assaulted? Get Married!
Okay, I am about to blow your mind with my problem-solving skills. If you REALLY don’t want to get sexually assaulted (being the victim is like sooo 2013, yea?) here’s the plan: Skip college and get married really young—and don’t get a job because in 2011, 11,364 people filed formal complaints of sexual harassment at work, according to The American Association of University Women.
Following close on the heels of George Will’s terrible column, The Washington Post published a lovely little gem co-written by conservative think tank geniuses W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson. They claim the best way for women to avoid being victims of rape and assault is to quit being such whores and get married.
I would like to pause and comment on the choice of stock art here. A couple walking on train tracks in a seemingly desolated “True Detective”-esque area captioned: “Marriage, the safer route.” Lord.
In this piece, written in response to the popularity of #YesAllWomen, the authors write: “This social media outpouring makes it clear that some men pose a real threat to the physical and psychic welfare of women and girls. But obscured in the public conversation about the violence against women is the fact that some other men are more likely to protect women, directly and indirectly, from the threat of male violence: married biological fathers.”
So, let me get this right: To be safe from being sexually assaulted, you need to be in a heterosexual relationship and have babies and be married to your babies’ biological father?
Let’s pretend, for a second, that we live in a world where that’s a scenario that we’re all interested in. If we were able to live that dream, would we be safe? I think you know I’m about to say no.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women Survey:
- You are married straight woman, just like the article says: Do you have it made? Nope: More than 30 percent of women who married or lived with a man as part of a couple reported abuse at the hand of said husband or partner.
- Ah, but I’m a gay lady! Sorry. Eleven percent of women with female partners reported being raped, physically assaulted and/or stalked.
- Gay man? You’re not safe at home either. Fifteen percent of men who had lived with a man as a couple reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked.
- Finally, straight dudes. They’re always safe, right? No. More than 7 percent of men surveyed who had married or lived with a woman as a couple reported domestic violence.
And these numbers only reflect the number of people who responded, and who responded honestly.
What Does All of This Mean?
George Will and his cronies are not just ill-informed, they are liars, willfully spreading misinformation and saying incredibly hurtful, stupid shit.
This kind of media coverage validates the lie that the number of sexual assaults is exaggerated at best, fabricated at worst. It perpetuates the crazy notion that people who step forward and ask for justice after being raped are probably just trying to get attention and special treatment. It seeks to shut-up victims of domestic abuse by discrediting the very fact that such a thing is possible.
The good news is that people are pissed. The hashtag outrage is palpable (see #SurvivorPrivilege). But, to be honest, I am at a loss, and just feeling really angry. Angry at the people who wrote this crap, angry at the people who believe it and angry at The Washington Post for publishing it. I’m angry at people who rape and assault people. I’m angry at anyone who doubts victims who are brave enough to come forward and seek the justice and help they deserve.
What we’re dealing with is a cultural crisis that isn’t contained to college campuses or to one segment of the population. We are all at risk of sexual assault in the places where we should feel the most safe—on campus (a home away from home) and at home. Being raped or assaulted is never a privilege.
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Blurred Lines and Rape Culture
Slut Shaming is the Status Quo
Sexual Assault: Victims No More
Image: Wendy Nelson Photography. via Compfight cc