The sexual assault survivor whose story George Will referenced in his controversial column about rape responded to his characterization of rape, criticizing him for making sexual assault “seem very small.”
In his column, Will said that the focus on sexual assault by colleges makes rape a “coveted status that confers privileges.” He used an anecdote from Lisa Sendrow, who described her sexual assault in an interview with Philadelphia Magazine, to discuss 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.”
“I absolutely have not received any privileges from sexual assault. [Will] has clearly never experienced the fear of sexual assault,” Sendrow said in an interview with Media Matters published Tuesday. “He clearly has no idea how hard it is to sleep, to walk around, thinking at any moment this person that you live down the hall from could come out.”
“No one gives a shit about you,” she added. “What benefit could we possibly get? Sometimes I feel like I can’t have a real relationship because someone might touch me in the wrong way. How is that okay?”
Sendrow said that the way Will dismissed her sexual assault was dangerous to survivors.
“No one wants to hear that you brought this on yourself,” she said. “No one wants to relive the experience or tell that story, when they haven’t really had a chance to reflect. You can’t really heal if people are telling you that it’s your fault. But that’s what Will did.”
She also criticized Will for making the issue of rape political.
“[H]e’s a conservative columnist, but why should sexual assault be political?” she asked.
Finally, Sendrow wondered how Will would have responded if her story had come from a member of his family.
“What if [Will’s] daughter — I don’t know if he has a daughter — but would he say to her, that this didn’t happen?” she asked. “If she came to him crying, or even not crying, but if she came to him and told him this story, would he just say it wasn’t real?”
George Will has one daughter.