George Will on Friday became the latest conservative pundit to attempt to debunk sexual assault statistics, arguing that universities’ efforts to address campus rape have made “victimhood a coveted status.”
In a column for the Washington Post, Will argues that universities are basing their definition of sexual assault on a “Washington” education, which is leading to inflated statistics.
“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 privileges, victims proliferate,” he wrote.
Will offers an anecdote from a student at Swarthmore College, in which a woman reported a rape after a former sexual partner wouldn’t take no for an answer. Will implies that because the incident occurred “with a guy with whom she’d been hooking up for three months,” she wasn’t sexually assaulted.
“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. I pulled my panties back on and went to sleep,” the woman wrote about the encounter.
“Six weeks later, the woman reported that she had been raped,” Will wrote about the Swarthmore student. “Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of ‘sexual assault’ victims. It vows to excavate equities from 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.”
The conservative columnist then disputed certain aspects of the definition of sexual assault.
“Combine this with capacious definitions of sexual assault that can include not only forcible sexual penetration but also nonconsensual touching. Then add the doctrine that the consent of a female who has been drinking might not protect a male from being found guilty of rape,” he wrote. “Then comes costly litigation against institutions that have denied due process to males they accuse of what society considers serious felonies.”
Will then links sexual assault to other attempts to “create victim-free campuses.”
“Meanwhile, the newest campus idea for preventing victimizations — an idea certain to multiply claims of them — is ‘trigger warnings.’ They would be placed on assigned readings or announced before lectures. Otherwise, traumas could be triggered in students whose tender sensibilities would be lacerated by unexpected encounters with racism, sexism, violence (dammit, Hamlet, put down that sword!) or any other facet of reality that might violate a student’s entitlement to serenity,” he wrote. “This entitlement has already bred campus speech codes that punish unpopular speech.”
George Will’s column is just the latest in a string of attempts by conservatives to convince America that statistics on sexual assault cited by the Obama administration are misleading.
Glenn Beck’s “The Blaze” put together “RAPE!” skits to mock a federal study on sexual assault and sexual coercion cited by President Obama.
Conservative writer A.J. Delgado argued in a piece for National Review that liberals “brainwash” women and that high rates of reported sexual assaults are merely due to women “crying rape.”