Dear George Will — A Few Words On My #SurvivorPrivilege

Huzzah! The Huffington Post picked up this piece! So, please share from their link — “Dear George Will — A Few Words on My #SurvivorPrivilege” as a thank you for getting it in front of more eyes than I could on my own. They posted it as-is and have invited me back; let’s make sure they’ll be excited to have me!

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Trigger Warning: rape, sexual assault, violence, misogyny

UPDATE: Please sign the petition: “Fire Columnist and Rape Apologist George Will”

Audio version:

It took me fourteen years to call myself a survivor of sexual assault.

The first time it happened to me, I was a junior in college.

I knew him. He walked me back to my room after the party at my request. We had a history. I was most definitely flirting with him. I invited him in. I kissed him back. I was into it until he pinned my arms to the bed.

When I couldn’t move, I did all the things I had been taught by the “no means no” consent education my generation went through growing up. The consent education that only really applies to stranger rape — a
rarity in sexual assault. Most of us know our attackers. Most of us started in perceived consensual situations. Most of us were assaulted by men who did not understand that what they were doing was rape.

The second through countless next times I was raped, I didn’t realize it was happening. We were dating. I was in his bed of my own free will. Well, considering my life circumstances “free will” is rather subjective. And he knew it. There wasn’t a way for me to make my life work if I left. So if he came home five hours after a bartending shift which ended with (no exaggeration) 25 shots of Jaegermeister and 20-30 Bud Lights and wanted to have sex, my giving in because it was easier than trying to explain I didn’t want to — THAT’S RAPE. As it turns out. And I didn’t realize it. Until about three weeks ago during the #YesAllWomen discussion about male aggression.

There are a number of reasons why survivors don’t report. With the Obama administration’s new Title IX task force to address sexual assault on campus, there is even some reporting being done on the topic. What we don’t talk about much is why so many of us didn’t realize we were assaulted or raped or that what happened to us was “bad enough” to be reported and prosecuted.

So, why don’t we know? I’d have to insert multiple dissertations on patriarchy, male power, rape culture, abstinence-only sex ed and it’s lack of consent discussion, purity expectations and statistics on how long it took to make “marital rape” a prosecutable crime. Oh, and don’t get me started on the “no is a temporary obstacle to be overcome” romantic comedy epidemic.

I’m not surprised when crap is written that perpetuates rape culture. That doesn’t make it less important to call out and it certainly doesn’t make the discussions that crop up around the idiocy less valid. Which brings us to George Will.

George Will — columnist for the Washington Post and “well respected” conservative talking head — published a piece yesterday full of victim blaming and a skepticism (aka a denial) that our country’s elite universities have a consent problem. He claims that progressivism has invade our educational spaces and caused unnecessary uproar over a non-problem. Here’s the Do Not Link version; Trigger Warnings apply. Like big ones. George Will Should Be Fired For This.

Here’s the kicker: Will’s column wasn’t even the first of the weekend. This atrocity from The Daily Beast published thousands of words from the rapist of a public Title IX activist. She went public when Brown University suspended him for a year, meaning she would have been on campus with him as she attempted to graduate. I believe her because I believe survivors. The way this piece of trash was written is an abomination filled with rape apology and victim blaming. That a woman wrote it further enrages me as it should enrage you.

I will not turn away from Will’s words. I will not write them off as an aberration or the ramblings of a conservative jerk. He is mostly definitely a conservative jerk, but his position on sexual assault and how survivors are alarmists with a desire to be admired is pervasive in our culture. The courage it took my friend Wagatwe Wajunki to create the sarcastic and powerful #SurvivorPrivilege hashtag is immeasurable. The conversation is happening there right now. I’m writing this through tear-streaked glasses from participating in the thread.

Ask The Washington Post to give equal column space to a survivor by RTing this —

— and pen/post your own request that they, at the very least, suspend Will for his victim blaming and perpetuation of rape culture. In a society where 20% of women are assaulted on their college and university campuses, high profile platforms like Will’s MUST NOT be used to further stigmatize an already underreported crime.

The conversation will continue via #SurvivorPrivilege and on Wednesday in my Tawkers live chat with the badass Title IX activist, Wagatwe Wajunki. Join us for FREE here: ”Campus Sexual Assault: It’s Personal; if you’re new to Tawkers or have questions about the chat, visit our Facebook event and leave a post. Also, check out Wagatwe’s GoFundMe, where she’s utilizing all her survivor privilege to finally graduate from college — six years past her expected graduation date: “Help me FINALLY finish college!”

I’ll end with a selection of some of the first posts on the hashtag which I encourage everyone who can do so safely to go and read as well as a list of outlets publishing pieces on it that I’ll keep updating. Be safe; be well.

Outlets posting about #SurvivorPrivilege:

“On #SurvivorPrivilege and Losing My Virginity to Rape” by Anonymous at The Frisky

“Want to End Violence Against Women? Don’t Read The Washington Post” by Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check

“Accused Rapists Have Plenty of Champions, Media Need Not Be One of Them” by Alana Massey at Truthout — an important piece on the less publicized rape apology piece at The Daily Beast

“The only ‘privilege’ afforded to campus rape victims is actually surviving” by Jessica Valenti at The Guardian, US

“Washington Post Columnist Claims Being A College Rape Victim Is Now A ‘Coveted Status’” via Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress

“#SurvivorPrivilege Trends On Twitter After Columnist Says Rape Survivors Lie To Get “Privileges”” by Rossalyn Warren at Buzzfeed

“#SurvivorPrivilege shows George Will just how fun it is to be a rape survivor” by Feministing

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Categories: Speaking Up, Thoughts

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9 replies

  1. I just… well need to ask… your very personal and brave sharing of your story is something to be admired… because I live in fear of sharing mine… recent events… keep hitting me that perhaps I need to… perhaps there is someone else out there being effected by this like me… being made to feel even more alone because they are not allowed a voice, do not have allies… everyone is against… do not resent that. In fact, I beyond understand it. I completely see how the patriarchal, masculinity obsessed culture we live in is such a huge part of this…

    The story you tell… the not even realizing what it was… mirrors so exactly simply one of the stories of my life. One of the moments where through different means I was told I must have wanted it… when I knew I didn’t, where all I wanted to do was run… but all the reasons I couldn’t…

    I read stories like yours and flash back to my own… again and again… but i sit quietly… a coward… because when I have said anything… I am still just seen as the enemy…. and seen as taking away from someone else… heck even most states the law doesn’t cover me…

    So… I honestly would like the opinion of someone who I honestly read the story and see my own… me being a male, and it being women who did the acts to me… I am not even sure how to word this question… i just… I want someone to tell me… am i allowed to speak yet? Am I allowed to join the conversation and fight alongside all the other victims, even if it is not based around what is in me or the person who did it to me’s pants? Am I allowed to have been born into this body, and have people who are born the opposite… do I have to give in to what i have been told… Do I have to just give in to them telling me “a woman cannot do that to a guy”? “Oh come on guys always want it” “It is a fantasy for every guy”… do I have to fight back the tears and accept that?

    I am crying now… this is not anger, ANYWHERE in here… it is honest fear and pain… and totally understanding what you have been through… and wanting to be able to not feel alone… and scared of ever talking anymore…

    This is not a place to do this I guess… is it? sorry… sorry if this bothers or offends… honestly, please forgive if it does…

    sorry if i wasted your time or offended…

  2. The conversation that’s going on here is good. For all the effort and emotion being put forth for women’s rights (human rights) it is alarming to me that freedom of speech is being overlooked here. Thoughts should be able to be put on the table for discussion without the person representing the opinion risking being attacked and villainized. By asking for George to be punished over his article is to ask for censorship, and it instills a fear of expression unless your opinion is the “right” one. Let him speak, let everyone speak because if we don’t, we are only suppressing viewpoints that need to be discussed for any true progress to be made.

    • From Cornell’s law school, “FIRST AMENDMENT: AN OVERVIEW”:
      “The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference.”
      Government. Government interference. I am not the government; the Washington Post is not the government. Calling for accountability is not an infringement on free speech — I don’t have that power. Will said a thing. I reacted to that thing. Thousands of people have reacted to that thing. That is ALL of it free speech.
      Additionally: we have restricted speech to what’s appropriate since the founding of the country. It turns out, words matter. Especially violent words. Words that erase violent felony behavior are themselves violent.

      I suggest taking a moment to reflect that your response to an honest, emotional, true story of repeated rape and survival was to tell the person recounting their experiences that they were being inappropriate. Your distinct and blatant lack of empathy are the very reason Will’s words matter so much and why — at the very least — an apology and a retraction should be issued by the editor. You, sir (I’ll have to assume your gender as you’re using a pseudonym to lecture a rape survivor), are requesting that I suppress my point of view while simultaneously suggesting Will should get to express his. Simply considering the size of each of our platforms, that is almost laughable.

    • Speech may be free, but no one said it shouldn’t/can’t have consequences. You don’t have the ‘freedom’ to say any asinine thing without getting called on it and paying the social and private industry price. Ask the Dixie Chicks about how far the free speech argument got them commercially. If a columnist says reprehensible things that offend a lot of people, they can lose their job. It’s called the free market. He can always go work for some right wing rag, Fox ‘News’, or MRA organization.

    • He is being allowed to speak, as are those who out of anger, frustration, and flat out pain, allowed to ask for him to be fired.

      Then the employer is allowed to decide, are those asking for him to be fired possible costumers? Coule they make more money by firing him? Or should they just continue on? Heck, they are allowed to decide that as he drums up controversy, he will keep getting them hits to their website, so ad dollars, so they could chose to keep him just because he is getting them press. Then even if they do let him go, someone else is then allowed to hire him because he will bring his infamy with him, thus bringing them money.

      The idea that this will somehow make anyone feel afraid to speak up when they are at that level… is kind of a small view point…

      If you really want to have at least a leg to stand on with your argument, the only real place is the people suggesting violence against him for his words. But instead you choose to tall someone to be quiet for only using words, against words, and at most suggesting that perhaps a company should go for good PR over bad that would cause him a change in job… this isn’t some guy who is at the edge of winding up being hopeless eating at a soup kitchen you are defending the job of.

      He will be fine. sadly…

  3. Reblogged this on jonesyokstate and commented:
    We should organize to get George Will fired.


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