Wolf argues that rape victims should have their names published in the press, because withholding their names “harms women.” Why does it harm women? Because it implies that rape is really really bad. And also it means that rape victims aren’t accountable to… someone. She seems to say that anonymity in the media means that rape victims will never have their motives examined, and that the context of the alleged assault will never come to light. Which is just not true. In fact, that is exactly what we have courts of law for. And that’s why Wolf’s argument falls totally flat — we do have legal mechanisms in place to counteract all of the harms she alleges occur from keeping rape victims anonymous. We do not, however, have very many mechanisms in place to counteract all the harms that routinely occur to rape victims when we publicize their names in the media. We also have a whole lot of people, like Wolf, who are happy to publicly shame rape accusers, and who in doing so discourage other rape victims from coming forward. And we have a disturbingly low reporting rate for sexual assault, and an even lower conviction rate. And, while Wolf says that the clothing a victim was wearing or who she had sex with previously are “irrelevant,” those details and others are very often trotted out to discredit women who accuse men of sexual assault; rape accusers are routinely painted as sluts or gold-diggers or attention-whores or vengeful bitches or crazy people. No other class of alleged crime victims are so often and so systematically disbelieved and shredded in the media.
Which is why we don’t publicize their names in the media.
But Naomi Wolf knows all of this. Most logical and ethical people can reason through all of this. I sincerely believe that Naomi Wolf, at this point, is not interested in the substance of even her own arguments. I believe she’s interested in reviving a gasping career, and she’s realized that this is a pretty damn good way to get people to talk about her again. She’s the Ann Coulter of feminism, and I’m sure the right-wing-welfare checks will start pouring in any day now. I hope she at least gets a nice house in Connecticut out of it.
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