George Will defies description, and a holder of a “coveted status” responds

[Trigger warning for rape]

In January, the Obama administration created a task force to address the sexual assault epidemic on college campuses. This, according to George Will in the Washington Post, is just another example of the progressivism that has created a privileged status for sexual assault victims. Kind of like a private party that’s only open to sexual assault survivors, and everyone else is looking in through the windows going, “Are those shrimp puffs? And Bellinis? Y’all, I’m totally telling people I was raped so I can get some shrimp puffs.”

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 privilege, victims proliferate.

Will provides, as an example of how silly this “supposed campus epidemic of rape” really is, the story of a woman at Swarthmore College who reported being raped. She was in bed with a man she’d been hooking up with for several months, they’d decided to be friends, and when he started taking her clothes off, she told him not to. He agreed… until a few minutes later, when he began undressing her and raped her. “I just kind of laid there and didn’t do anything — I had already said no. I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. I let him finish.”

It’s ridiculous, he appears to think, that such a story of a woman being violated after explicitly saying no might be considered rape, much less part of an epidemic of rape. Or, more specifically, “sexual assault,” which Will puts in scare quotes several times in his piece. And attributes it to “the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol and the faux sophistication of today’s prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults.”

Academia is learning that its attempts to create victim-free campuses — by making everyone hypersensitive, even delusional, about victimizations — brings increasing supervision by the regulatory state that progressivism celebrates.

First note: Sexual assault isn’t a “micro-agression.” It’s the regular kind of aggression. And a pretty aggressive example of it, too.

Second note: Exactly what privilege does he assume women are getting as a result of their “coveted status”? Is it the privilege of being accused of lying or exaggerating when reporting rape? The privilege of being warned that maybe it’s best if you just forget it ever happened? The privilege of having people speculate as to what you did to bring the rape on yourself? The privilege of PTSD? The privilege of being treated like a Damaged Woman by the public at large? The privilege of watching your rapist wandering around free of consequence, while people blame you for trying to ruin a good man’s name? The privilege of having been, y’know, sexually assaulted? Does Will actually think there are shrimp puffs involved? (Stranger things have happened.)

And if the privilege associated with being a rape victim is so coveted, why is rape so underreported?

Third note: I’ll let Lisa Reed take care of the third note. A survivor of sexual assault in college herself, Reed speaks to statistics, in terms of how many people in the U.S. are raped every day and how unlikely it is that a rapist will ever be punished for it. She speaks to the dismissal of rape by conservatives as hoaxes and false accusations and the distinction between “legitimate rape” and, one assumes, all the rest of them. She speaks to the effects of PTSD and everything that follows from it. And then she speaks directly to assholes like George Will, Todd Akin, and everyone else who dismisses sexual assault survivors as frauds, drama queens, and liars:

I have some words for George Will and others who argue that sexual assault survivors “make victimhood a coveted status”: Just stop. We’ve heard language like yours our whole lives that downplays or discounts our pain, either from ourselves, or close family members and friends that are supposed to love and support us. Your language enforces the prisons that we build for ourselves, locked in a cage of guilt, depression, anxiety and self-loathing. But as more and more survivors come forward because we realize how many other people share their pain and refuse to let it overpower us, we’re learning that your voice means nothing against the strength we have amassed after undergoing such horrific experiences. Your refusal to accept or acknowledge the reality of sexual assault doesn’t make our experiences any less real.

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22 Responses

  1. Disemvoweled: Karak
    Disemvoweled: Karak June 12, 2014 at 11:45 pm |

    the head of a giraffe against a bright blue sky: its mouth is pursed sidewaysY knw, Grg, f y rlly wnt prvlg, ‘d b mr thn hppy t rp y s y cn ccss th whtvr-th-fck-t-s y thnk rp vctms hv.

    Fckng sshl. ‘m t trd t ply nc wth ths ppl.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L June 13, 2014 at 1:09 am |

      Karak, even George Will doesn’t deserve that.

      1. AMM
        AMM June 13, 2014 at 7:38 am |

        No, what he deserves is for everyone in his social circle to look at him like he’d just done something unmentionable and revolting and avoid getting anywhere near him, to have people openly speculate that he must have some kind of character disorder to be making up weird stuff like that, and to have people say he’s just doing it to get attention and a privileged status.

        begin{channelling Bill Watterson}

        And while I’m wishing, I wish I had a pony.

    2. trans_commie
      trans_commie June 13, 2014 at 1:32 am |

      I don’t think that anyone should play nice with George Will given what he’s said, but regardless he doesn’t deserve sexual violence, FFS.

    3. EG
      EG June 13, 2014 at 7:43 am |

      I hear what I think you’re saying, Karak–if George thinks this status is so super-awesome, he’s welcome to go out and “seek” it. But I have to agree with the others that rape isn’t an OK thing to threaten–not because nobody could deserve it, in my opinion, but because, like torture, it makes the threatener into a rapist or torturer, and thus a terrible person. In other words, it’s not something I don’t wish on people like George Will for their sakes, but for my own.

      1. EG
        EG June 13, 2014 at 7:46 am |

        In other words, I think that George Will should be put down humanely, like a rabid dog.

    4. Echo Zen
      Echo Zen June 13, 2014 at 2:21 pm |

      I think Karak is just saying what most are thinking, when we’ve run out of spoons to be the better person.

      1. Sharon M
        Sharon M June 13, 2014 at 4:58 pm |

        Agree.

      2. Donna L
        Donna L June 13, 2014 at 5:37 pm |

        Don’t assume most are thinking that. If I could press a button and eliminate George Will from the universe, I’d seriously contemplate it. But I’ve never wanted to rape anybody, let alone thought that I’d be happy to do so. I’m not going to make excuses for that kind of rhetoric under any circumstances; it’s exactly the same kind of thing as enthusiastically advocating prison rape of people who’ve done awful things.

        1. EG
          EG June 14, 2014 at 7:26 am |

          Agreed.

      3. trees
        trees June 14, 2014 at 9:55 am |

        I think Karak is just saying what most are thinking, when we’ve run out of spoons to be the better person.

        Nope.

    5. so...
      so... June 13, 2014 at 4:02 pm |

      So, can we have a giraffe clarify whether it’s this websites’ policy that rape threats are sometimes okay in the comments section?

      1. tigtog
        tigtog June 13, 2014 at 5:43 pm | *

        Was actually sending a giraffe alert as laid out above the comments send-box too much trouble, oh new sardonical email address?

  2. trans_commie
    trans_commie June 13, 2014 at 12:30 am |

    I wonder if this victimhood-as-power discourse that reactionaries often contribute to is rooted in a fear of victims gaining acceptance and support. It could be a phenomenon similar to the perception that women are dominant in a conversation when in reality they are talking just as much as men. Reactionaries find it threatening because it implies a rejection of power differentials. What they fear is not them being overpowered but rather them no longer being able to enjoy their dominant status.

    1. AMM
      AMM June 13, 2014 at 7:13 am |

      +1

      Heck, +1000 and bingo!

    2. Angie unduplicated
      Angie unduplicated June 13, 2014 at 9:41 am |

      You nailed it. Those who “own” or want to own women’s free or low-cost labor, including sexual labor, want us cowed.
      Down here where civilization is so rare it’s usually misspelled, the attitude is “Pussy never runs out or wears out, why are you whining?”. The fact that women’s bodies are private property is overlooked in tge same way that Native property rights were: only white males are presumed to have this right, unless the victim presses charges.

  3. EG
    EG June 13, 2014 at 7:39 am |

    I’d like him to find some evidence or shut up. You know, evidence: some actual people who actually covet this “status.”

  4. AMM
    AMM June 13, 2014 at 8:21 am |

    when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privilege, victims proliferate.

    Let me rephrase that:

    when they make sexual assault denying a coveted status that confers privilege, sexual assault deniers proliferate

    Mr. Will is IMHO certainly doing this just to get status points from his neo-con buddies, so is he doing it for the sexual assault denial privilege?

    (Caveat: I don’t have the stomach to read the original article — having read Mr. Will’s columns in the past, I assume the original is even worse than Caperton represents it.)

  5. Angel H.
    Angel H. June 13, 2014 at 5:33 pm |

    Slightly related OT comment in spillover.

  6. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh June 13, 2014 at 7:32 pm |

    I was utterly disgusted by how clueless and vile George Will is. The *only* positive I have ever experienced as a result of having survivor status is that I found communities of other survivors (like the Pandora’s Aquarium message board) that were there for me and gave me a chance to be there for others. And yet having these communities is tempered with the knowledge that others have had to suffer to make it possible. I can’t count the times someone has said something like “I’m really sorry this happened to you, but I’m also relieved that I’m not alone.”

  7. a lawyer
    a lawyer June 17, 2014 at 2:27 pm |

    George Will is a straightforward sexist. He opposes women’s advancement because (a) they’re women, (b) advancing.

    But in this very limited field of college treatment of sexual assault, Will and his ilk are gaining traction. Since folks like Will have been around from the get-go, it seems like the change is due to mutual interests overlapping between groups.

    IOW, Will’s group opposes any changes because they benefit women. But there is a much larger group of “process” folks who are opposing some of these changes on different grounds. They have different arguments, and–unlike Will–are often motivated by things other than simple sexism.

    The reason he’s more prominent is that the Wills of the world are attempting–successfully!–to ride on the coattails of the more neutral “process” folks. I don’t know what the solution is. I suspect it will require more writers to distinguish between the two groups and try to set the “process” folks against the Will folks.

  8. a lawyer
    a lawyer June 20, 2014 at 12:11 pm |

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