Scroll To Top

My Rant Against George Will's Ridiculous Rape-Victim Blaming!

My Rant Against George Will's Ridiculous Rape-Victim Blaming!

My Rant Against George Will's Ridiculous Rape-Victim Blaming!

No amount of verbal trickery can mask fundamental idiocy

If you study formal logic, there's a principle you learn about called the fallacy of correlation versus causation.  In regular English, it means that just because two events occur one after the other, this does not prove that the first one caused the second one to happen.  For example, it's raining and I burned my toast.  Did the rain cause the toast to burn?  Clearly not.  But you'd be amazed at how often political-minded folk conflate the two when attempting to make their points.  Sure, if you were to say, "it's raining and therefore my car got wet," it is likely that the rain caused this to happen.  But if you break it apart and just say "My car is wet," this does not prove that rain was the culprit.  You can never, ever make a foolproof argument that correlation equals causation. See what I mean? 

Apparently George Will forgot this rather essential rule of logic when he wrote a piece for the Washington Post that argues that the government's recent effort to build more awareness and crack down harder on college sexual assault has somehow caused the nation's colleges to become shallow and stupid victims of Obama's insidious plan to destroy our country:

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 privileges, victims proliferate. And academia’s progressivism has rendered it intellectually defenseless now that progressivism’s achievement, the regulatory state, has decided it is academia’s turn to be broken to government’s saddle.

I'm just going to note right now that Will's entire piece reads like some of the clunky, jargon-infused tomes of literary criticism that I had to pore over in college—it has no business being in a nationally syndicated newspaper.  George, there is a way to analyze something in which you do not bash your audience over the head with pretentious vocabulary and indecipherable sentences written in a language that no one who hasn't obsessively studied Harold Bloom can understand.  All that this style of writing achieves is to make yourself look like a raging narcissist and confuse your readers to the point where they give up and say, "Okay I think this guy/girl is smart, but I have no fucking clue what I just read."  Isn't the point of writing to educate your audience? To teach us something we didn't know or think about before?  I thought it was, but in the world of political spin, it's also a tool to manipulate facts to conform to your argument or agenda, and confuse the masses into agreeing with you.  George Will—if you're so concerned about the state of academia, why are you such a shit teacher?

In regular English, George Will is trying to say this:

"Because victims get so much attention from Washington/Obama/liberal idiot sympathizers, more victims are being invented every day, and it's ruining academia."

At this point in the article, I read the word "victims" and thought to myself, "Oh man, is he really going there?"  And then I was sadly proven right. 

Consider the supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. “sexual assault.”

Yes, George Will is talking about victims of rape, or "sexual assault" as he calls it.  Ah, yes, the classic scare quotes that are used to undermine the validity of the thing being described.  I once read a piece so laden with references to "homosexuality" and "lesbians" that I almost threw my computer out the window.  Sexual assault is a real thing, asshole! So are lesbians, for that matter.  But that's a topic for another day…

But then Will really goes for it.  After describing an incident in which a woman tried to rebuff a guy several times before finally giving up and "letting him finish," he writes what happened next in the following way:

Six weeks later, the woman reported that she had been raped. 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.

I don't even know where to begin with this.  Clearly, the woman was raped if she did not want to have sex or consent and yet the man did it anyway.  It doesn't matter if he didn't pull a gun or pin her to the ground.  He apparently pestered her to the point that she became exhausted and relinquished the control of her body to him, at which point he proceeded to have his way.  That is the textbook definition of rape.  Rape is not just violent street crimes from strangers—in fact most rape and sexual assault is committed by friends and acquaintances of the victims. 

But instead of, you know, just admitting that this was an instance of rape, Will shrugs the whole thing off as a testament to the ambiguous "hookup culture" of those irresponsible, privileged college kids of today with their pesky hormones and alcohol!  Is he seriously arguing that because college guys feel entitled to make gallons of jungle juice (a.k.a. "roofie-colada") and get a bunch of girls wasted on the hopes that they'll be too incoherent to notice a dick going inside them, that all of us responsible adults of the world should just turn a collective blind eye to this absurdity?  And since when are all college students privileged assholes?  What about the kids who work two jobs and pay their way through school and would never even have time to attend one of these Bacchanal-style parties where all the assault occurs?

It wasn't that long ago that I was in college and saw firsthand just how ubiquitous—not to mention accepted—that this mindset and behavior truly is.  I don't mean to depress you, but I cannot think of a single woman I know, including myself, who did not at some point in college do something with a guy that she did not feel comfortable with on the mild end of the spectrum, and flat-out refused to do it yet was forced into in on the extreme end.  I personally knew of one particular guy who assaulted three different women who were friends of mine, none of whom reported him.  As far as I know, dude is off in the world somewhere, unpunished, and who can say what he's up to now?  I tried to get them to speak up, but they were scared that doing so would get his entire frat riled up and they would be slut-shamed. In the wake of the brutal Santa Barbara shootings in which a college guy felt that he had the right to murder a bunch of people because girls wouldn't fuck him and the #yesallwomen campaign that ensued, it's pretty clear that we are in need of a massive, nationwide wake up call on the issues of male entitlement to women's bodies, and the inevitable slew of rapes that follow.

After completely undermining that this girl was, in fact, raped, Will goes on to play a tired numbers game by citing two different stats, one that says that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted in college, and the other that says that 12% of sexual assault is reported.  He tries to do some arithmetic bamboozling to claim that it's impossible that 20% of women are sexually assaulted because the number of women reporting sexual assault at one college was far less than what 12% of the 20% of women at that particular college would have been. 

I AM SO SICK OF STATISTICS.  Seriously.  There is another logical fallacy called "percent versus number" which is abused constantly.  Advertisers say things like, "90% of dentists surveyed agree that Crest is the best" and neglect to mention that they only interviewed ten dentists and nine of them happened to like Crest.  Using one example of one population of women at one college and comparing it to only three years of data collection is not a thorough statistical survey.  The sample size is tiny.  The results are worthless.  The end.   

And frankly, I don't give a fuck about anyof the statistics.  Rape is one of those things (like the frequency of LGBT people in a population) that will always go underreported or mis-reported, or mis-labeled, etc. etc. because of the gigantic stigma associated with it and the huge backlash that you can expect to endure if you identify with a member of this particular group, in this case: rape survivors.  (By the way, Will puts the word "survivor" in scare quotes too, claiming that the word itself is a prejudgment against men.  What??  The word "survivor" means that the rapist didn't rape and then kill the victim.  You know?  She or he survived).

I may get some backlash of my own in saying that none of these statistics matter, since unfortunately citing numbers is the only way to make any institution, including the government, address a problem, but I can tell you colloquially—guarantee, even—that if you are not yourself a victim of sexual assault, you personally know someone who is, even if they haven't told you.  It's staggeringly common, and most victims stay silent for their entire lives rather than endure the response to coming out publicly, or even privately to friends or family, about what they've gone through. 

In the beginning of the piece, Will even refers to victimhood as a "coveted status" as if it's somehow really beneficial to be a rape victim.  Is this a reference to whatever support, if any, rallies around said victim?  Oh, yeah, she or he has it so great.  That's like saying that burn victims should feel lucky because people try to lend them emotional or medical support.  Who wouldn't?  And let's not forget all the girls who have killed themselves or sunk into unreachable depressions as a result of the public flogging that occurs when you dare accuse a guy, especially a well-liked athlete, for example, of hurting you. 

The problem of rape on college campuses goes far beyond statistics.  The problem of rape in the world goes back to the dawn of humanity.  So are we to just throw our hands up in the air and say, "boys will be boys" and call it a day?  Many Republicans of today's GOP spend all their time bashing science, yet insist on relying on animalistic gendered behavior when justifying what men do to women's (or other men's) bodies.  And of course not all men are rapists, not even close.  But some men do rape and we have got to accept this if we are to have any hope of affecting change.

And just in case you thought that Will's piece was all about undermining the problem or incidence of rape on college campuses, think again.  In fact, his entire article is devoted to somehow tying all of this in to the Obama administration's new rating system for colleges and the backlash against it. 

This has nothing to do with sexual assault in college!  Yet somehow, for Will, it's absolutely intertwined.  Why?  Because now, he goes on, colleges are implementing trigger warnings on certain reading materials that include references to rape, violence, etc.  Trigger warnings mean that reading or watching this material might surface traumatic memories for people who have been victims to that kind of crime or prejudice.  He says,

"Now the codes are begetting the soft censorship of trigger warnings to swaddle students in a 'safe,' 'supportive,' 'unthreatening' environment, intellectual comfort for the intellectually dormant."

So let me see if I'm following his "logic" (yes I used scare quotes, because logical you are not!)…I think he's saying this:

Since the government is now asking colleges to pay more attention to victims of sexual assault and rape, it has led to serious government overreach in the form of a  college ranking system and trigger warnings on sensitive materials. 

Look, George Will, if you want to make an argument that the government is getting too involved in colleges, be my guest.  I honestly do not know enough about educational politics to weigh one way or the other on this topic.  But to collectively throw thousands of rape victims under the bus in order to build your inane argument?  That's not only lazy and fallacious logic, it's dangerous.  It sweepingly disregards rape by trying to minimize it into a trivial issue that does not deserve our attention and adds to the already uphill battle that we are on in trying to get this problem the recognition it needs so that people take decisive action.  I say bravo to the President for being brave enough to take a stand when he knows full well how much shit he's going to get from people like you for daring to call rape a problem or trying to protect college students from becoming the next victims.

And for the record?  Putting trigger warnings on certain books or movies is not going to transform us into soma-popping drones from an Aldous Huxley dystopian novel.  My guess is that these trigger warnings precede graphic descriptions of hate crimes, rape, and genocide.  The one thing in this entire piece that I agree with is that we shouldn't collectively protect the masses from seeing or ingesting this information, because if we remain ignorant, no one will be spurned to furious action to prevent it from happening again.  (Holocaust deniers, anyone?).  But a warning is different from a ban on certain materials, and if someone has already been through a hate crime or sexual assault, chances are they don't need the same level of education on how horrible it is as the rest of us.  They may just not want to be forcibly reminded of what they experienced.  It would be like making war vets watch footage of Vietnam without warning them.  The trigger warning says "Hey, we know you've already been through this and it was horrible, and we don't want you to unknowingly relive it if you don't want to."     

Next time you try to make a point, Mr. Will, please do us all a favor and stop stomping all over logical principles in the process.  Aristotle is probably turning over in his grave (or angrily shaking his fist at you from the Elysian Fields, whichever). 

Or you could step down from your title as a Washington Post writer before this petition gets your antiquated ass fired. 

(drops the mic and walks offstage)







Banner Image OneOut Magazine - Fellow Travelers

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories