A former George Washington University president drew criticism Wednesday for doling out tired advice to college women: drink less in order to avoid sexual assault.
“Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave,” Dr. Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said on The Diane Rehm Show during a discussion on fraternities and sororities.
Jezebel first noted Trachtenberg’s remarks on Wednesday afternoon, calling his rape prevention solution “jaw-droppingly stupid.”
Trachtenberg graciously forgave Jezebel for criticizing his comments in a Thursday statement to Mother Jones.
“Jezebel has a world view that informs their prose. They are an advocate for an important cause and they take every opportunity to make their case. Sometimes in their enthusiasm they may get a little overheated,” he said. “It’s hard to resist an apparent opportunity when you believe you are on the side of the angels.”
He also defended his comment about drinking and campus sexual assault in general.
“I am an educator. I believe in the power of education. I think that education about drinking and its effects on an individual can help protect that person from vulnerability. Knowledge makes one stronger. I also believe that having skills gives one power,” he said. “These two ideas are not meant to solve all problems. They are not blame shifters. They are what they are. Better to know things then not.”
He added that colleges also need to educate men about date rape and “change the culture of the campus so that men and women protect and nurture each other as a family would.”
Trachtenberg also said he perhaps shouldn’t have used the word “misbehave” to allude to date rape.
“I chose that word because I was thinking and speaking quickly under time constraints on a radio show. Under different circumstances I might have used another perhaps stronger word,” he told Mother Jones in his statement.