The conservative Independent Women’s Forum held a conference last week called “Rape Culture and Sexual Assault.”
I’m going to go through the press release, beginning with the opening:
The White House has embraced the statistic that 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted while in college…
Embraced is not the verb I would use. Do you know how hard it’s been and how many years we have been working to get the U.S. government to acknowledge that violence against women is epidemic is the USA?
The White House has released its “first ever report” on the issue and are using it to push their policy agenda…
Think the IWF put “first ever report” in scare quotes because it’s such a silly concept or because it’s so shocking that its taken until 2014 for the U.S. government to take note that its most honored educational institutions are not protecting female students?
“Push their policy agenda”? Which is…um… human rights for women?
But many question the validity of the White House’s one-in-five statistic, even as those who challenge this figure are silenced as being uncaring about women…
Would that “silencing” be referring to George Will who questioned the stat in the Washington Post in his syndicated column that runs in newspapers all over this country, where he also called rape survivors “a coveted status that confers privilege”? About the stat, Will wrote:
The statistics are: One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, and only 12 percent of assaults are reported. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that if the 12 percent reporting rate is correct, the 20 percent assault rate is preposterous. Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute notes, for example, that in the four years 2009 to 2012 there were 98 reported sexual assaults at Ohio State. That would be 12 percent of 817 total out of a female student population of approximately 28,000, for a sexual assault rate of approximately 2.9 percent — too high but nowhere near 20 percent.
To which Jezebel responded:
Rape is underreported, here is how many women reported being raped, therefore rape is overreported. These reports are flawed! Can’t you tell by these flawed reports? Your honor, I rest my case.
Who reads Jezebel by the way? Same influential, power-playing crowd who reads Reel Girl? Unlike Will, Jezebel hasn’t won a Pulitzer yet, but I’m sure it’ll receive that international honored any day now. Continuing with this theme of “silencing,” a feminist responded to Will’s column, writing in the Huffington Post:
At its most basic level, as a scholar who has studied violence against women for 20 years, I’m struck that neither I nor any of my colleagues who have devoted decades to producing the best research on these issues has ever had the opportunity to tell the story in this way in such a prestigious outlet as The Washington Post. Instead we are relegated to the back pages of online outlets like The Huffington Post and Slate.com. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly grateful that my voice can be heard in these outlets, but I’m also painfully aware that millions more people, and especially people (men) with privilege, read The Washington Post than The Huffington Post blog pages…
But back to the IWF press release. Next line:
The IWF takes any accusation of sexual assault very seriously. But we are concerned that there is a potentially harmful hysteria developing about this issue. Where does this come from? Where is it going? And who will be harmed?
In 2014, we are still using the word hysteria around women’s issues? Hysteria, in case you don’t know, comes from the Greek word “hyster” for womb, the “ancient” belief being that women are crazy because they have wombs. A better word for America’s response to rape might be apathy.
So who is on the IWF panel? If you watch news channels or read news media, you know these “experts” and the prestigious think tanks they’re affiliated with: Christina Hoff Summers is an author and Fellow of the America Enterprise Institute; Stuart Taylor is an author and a Fellow at the Brookings Institute; Cathy Young is a columnist for Newsday; Andrea Bottner is a lawyer and a former director of the Office of International Women’s Issues for the Bush Administration. It’s great to know that Bush put someone in the USA in charge of international women’s issues who believes in rape hysteria.
Oh, lord. Yeah, brilliant job, guys, using the word “hysteria.” So transparent. Just putting aside, the arguments about statistics (nice attempt at distraction) the fact that there are any sexual assaults is a problem. What the hell? Is there an acceptable percentage of sexual assaults?
As for the idiotic open-ended questions, what are you concerned about, guys? “Where is it going? And who will be harmed?” Challenging a status quo that doesn’t keep women safe and then doesn’t take care of them after they’ve been assaulted. Um, no one will be harmed. Except maybe criminals. Who do you think is going to be harmed? You can’t just ask vague fear-mongering questions. At least bother to articulate what you’re supposedly “concerned” about.