An OB/GYN writes to George Will about college rape

Dear Mr. Will,

I read your recent column on the “supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. sexual assault” and am somewhat taken aback by your claim that forcing colleges to take a tougher stand on sexual assault somehow translates into a modern version of The Crucible that replaces witchcraft with rape hysteria.

I was specifically moved to write to you because the rape scenario that you describe somewhat incredulously is not unfamiliar to me. Not because I’ve heard it in many different iterations (I have sadly done many rape kits), but because it was not unlike my own rape. The lead up was slightly different, but I too was raped by someone I knew and did not emerge with any obvious physical evidence that a crime had been committed. I tried to push him away, I said “No!” and “Get off” multiple times,” but he was much stronger and suddenly I found my hands pinned behind my back and a forearm crushing my neck and for a few minutes I found it hard to breathe. I was 22, far from home, scared, and shocked and so at some point I just stopped kicking and let him finish. Sound familiar? For several weeks I didn’t even think about it as a rape because that was easier than admitting the truth. Again, sound familiar?

When a man who is much stronger than you holds you down (Hey baby don’t fight, you know you want it) and forces your legs open the violence and power of those movements is horrifically violating and utterly disempowering. You think you screamed NO! at the top of your lungs but you were so scared and so shocked that when you went from yelling no! to pleading no to silently weeping no is hard to remember. Implied violence Mr. Will is a terrifying thing indeed.

You labor under the fear (as some men do) that there is an epidemic of false rape. That good young men will go to jail for consent withdrawn after the fact. And while false accusations likely do happen (the Duke Lacrosse case is a recent, well-known example) these are the exception and not the rule and each time a male with a platform spouts off about a false epidemic of rape it only makes it harder for women who have been violated to come forward.

And your confusion about the under reporting statistics? First a woman has to get over her fear of her assailant and the shame imparted by society and then she has to deal with the police. There are no Special Victims Units like you see on T.V. protectively shepherding women through the process of facing assailants. And if fear and shame and being disbelieved by law enforcement were not enough of a deterrent think about having your pubic hair combed for your rapist’s DNA while you are dripping with his ejaculate. And you have the gall to wonder why some women might not immediately (if ever) report a rape? I am a 47 year-old financially and professionally secure woman in a stable, loving relationship and it took 25 years and your jackass column to get me to speak up about my rape. How easy do you think it is for a scared 20 year-old to call 911 or walk into a police station and say, “I was just raped?”

This weekend I was out dancing and experienced what I think you referred to as “micro-aggressions.” I had my buttocks pinched three times and my breasts groped twice. I was called a “bitch” and a “50-year-hag” when I politely declined hopeful suitors. Whether it is a cat call or a grope these actions represent sexual aggression and Mr. Will they have little to do with sex and everything to do with aggression. I wish someone taught those 40-something-year-old men in college that verbal assaults are not the appropriate response to “no thank you” and that pinching a women’s behind is not a mating ritual.

There is no woman who I have ever met personally or as an OB/GYN who thinks that surviving a rape confers some sort of privilege. I am genuinely curious if you interviewed a few young women hoping to earn their college rape badge or is that just a conclusion you reached looking at the issue of sexual assault through the myopic lens of misogyny?

Come spend a day in my clinic Mr. Will. Come see how the scars of rape linger even decades later.

There is no survivor privilege, just survivors.


Jennifer Gunter MD, FRCSC, FACOG, DABPM

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  1. Thank you. As the mother of a survivor, I applaud your bravery. Because that’s what it takes to repair the souls of survivors. God bless and God speed. May you continue to make a difference in the world of survivors.

  2. Thank you Dr. Gunter for having the courage to share your experience and your voice. You are surely helping so many who cannot yet share their own stories. I also appreciate those comments which are supportive and constructive suggestions for changing things for the better.

    1. Please don’t use phrases such as “I was taken aback.”

      That’s exactly what bullies like Will want you to be.

  3. Thank you for speaking your truth in such a public way.

    I was molested multiple times by a cousin during the holidays and we visited my aunt’s house when I was a small child. After 30+ years of interalizing this, I spoke my truth a little over a year ago. I was and continued to be blamed by most of the family for making this up to destroy my cousin’s life. Really?! This is all to common the response sexual assault victims get from their own families not to mention privileged white males who are writing out of complete ignorance as someone in the know. Males are also the victims of sexual assault — even privileged ones at Ivy League institutions. Is that part of your simple arithmetic or is that different?

    The coveted victims live a lifetime of pervasive consequences as a result of such acts. As you probably know Dr. Gunther but of course Mr. Will does not, most offenders are serial offenders. The good bloke from the Ivy League campus or any campus is likely committing the same act countless times to countless victims during his four years in college — not to mention before college and after college. What a privilege to be sexually assaulted by such a predator. It is about aggression and complete disregard for victims as human beings — which undoubtedly carries into other areas of their lives … such as writing and publishing such arrogant, ignorant, factless commentaries. Wonder what your maker will think of this valuable contribution to humanity George?

    1. Erin’s victim, you are more right than you know. Certainly, rapists tend to be serial aggressors. But so do conservatives and that is what drives George Will.

      It’s obvious from his column that he approaches very issue by (1) asking himself what the conservative sheepmind take on this would be, then (2) distorting facts and evidence as needed to fit.

      He obviously cares little about rape or any other issue. Promoting the conservative sheepmind, regardless of reality, is A to Z in his book.

  4. Thank you as well for this post. I too am a successful woman, happily married, but I too have struggled. As a 3 + survivor. The details are still too difficult to discuss. 2 relatives, and an exboyfriend (with a child to share – yes there’s no laws to prevent this in my state).

    I will never let it happen to me again. We are fighting bills to be passed to protect women. Every win small or large is a step in the right direction.

    Thank you for your voice. I say “No More!”…

  5. Thank you for speaking out. I, like the majority of victims, still find it difficult to do so – even 57 years after the fact.

  6. Dr. Gunter- I am not whatsoever insensitive to what happened to you, but I think your article is an ad hominem attack on Mr. Will that belies his point. He made no claims that rapes don’t happen nor that they are acceptable. The very statistics he cites acknowledge that a large percentage of actual rapes go unreported. The tone of your post implies otherwise. You imply that he thinks rape is no big deal. His point on the subject of rape, right or wrong, is that he thinks the frequency is exaggerated to the status of epidemic when reality is that it is less frequent, and that extreme measures enacted to prevent it run the very real risk of creating more victims on the other side.

    I don’t doubt that actual rape happens much more frequently than false rape accusations, but there is also no doubt that false accusation do indeed happen, and they can be tremendously destructive to the accused. Should these victims be ignored as collateral damage in the interest of the greater good, and is it not worth considering how certain anti-rape measures will likely increase the frequency of this category of victim?

    Will’s broad point is not about rape. It is about the ever increasing instincts of progressives to protect people’s feelings at the expense of freedom and preparedness to deal with the harsh realities of human existence, and on that, I think he makes a very fair point…

    1. I think your opinion is in the minority. Comments like “privilege” and “victimhood” in this context are misogynistic. As for false accusations, I touched on that because it is actually a common tactic of rape apologists. No one brings up false accusations when we talk about robbery, although it likely happens.

      Studies tell us that 7.5-11.9% of women between the ages of 18-24 are raped and 19% are assaulted sexually. To call this a supposed epidemic is obscene.

      1. It is not apparent that he is using privilege and victimhood within the context of sexual assault. He makes those statements within the context of microaggression which is the crux of his argument. I don’t disagree that those are terrible percentages, and perhaps he is wrong on the frequency, but I don’t see his article as a misogynistic scandal if placed into proper context of what he is really getting at… Again, I am saddened to hear your story, but your post is being distributed for political purposes as a proof positive of Will’s misogyny and that of conservatives by extension, and I think a distortion of his message is required to arrive at that conclusion…

    2. >I am not whatsoever insensitive to what happened to you, but…

      And that “but” erases the false claim that precedes it.

      >ever increasing instincts of progressives to protect people’s feelings…

      It’s not my FEELINGS, buster, it’s my BODY. Get it?

      I love how the rape apologists show up here hiding behind their pseudonyms.

    3. That is a strained interpretation to argue that Will was trying to react to “…the ever increasing instincts of progressives to protect people’s feelings…” and, more important, that making an issue of rape is about “feelings”. I am more conservative than liberal as the words are commonly used in our polarized society – although I do accept a lot of liberal viewpoints – and I was taught by my parents to respect other peoples feelings; but rape is not about feelings. Rape is about right and wrong. Rape is wrong. Rape steals from the victim, and to espouse a conservative value, rape steals from our national resources by leaving scars on women. Some women overcome these scars, but many, perhaps the majority, do not. [There are even worse statistics on recovery from rape than for rape itself.] Speaking about the women who do not recover, as a country we are deprived of the contributions these women would have made if they were not abused. Mr Will was at best careless in his choice of words, and more likely inadvertently self-disclosing of his real attitudes.

      1. Actual rapes????? WTF is an a ‘inactual rape’ ? (Sic) Drunken male SOB’s don’t differentiate so definitively. Recognize the issue, college men are out of control and feeling entitled to alcohol abuse and degradation of a college woman. It has become a bizarre, inhuman, cruel, life-bending event for the victims. I was a campus security director. I’ve seen the lack of a sense of wrong-doing. It is despicable and worthy of life in prison. Mad as hell, can you tell?

  7. Reblogged this on freshfaced and commented:
    Men and women’s thinking about sexual assault needs to be changed to create a safer place for both sexes. No one wants to get raped and no one wants to be accused falsely. If you want to change “rape culture”, you need to change the over “sexualization” of our culture.

  8. Fabulous article! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I, too, am a victim of rape, though I didn’t get a ‘badge.’ No, when I tried to report my brutal rape (at knifepoint) to police I was threatened by the police to not report it because my rapist was a star on the University’s basketball team and they “didn’t need another scandal.” You see, another star player had just recently been convicted and received a lengthy prison term for a rape. I was 19 and very frightened. The rape kit had been done and I was given medical attention for my ruptured cervix and other injuries. The police asked the medical team to leave and they worked on me for a long time, until scared and exhausted I said I just wanted to go home. Several years later I sought rape counseling and befriended a very nice cop. I told him what had happened. He was furious. He started trying to track down the reports. They were nowhere to be found. No city police department report. No university police report. He went to the hospital. No rape kit or medical report. He took it to his superiors. The next day he was told to drop it.
    Thank you for telling your story. How did George Will, a beyond middle-aged MAN, become an expert on rape victims. He is despicable. You handled him brilliantly.

    1. Thank you for courage in sharing this, but look out–there are a couple of trolls posting above who would assert that since the police and prosecutors did not pursue your complaint you were only allegedly raped and you have no right identifying yourself as a rape victim because your rape was never “proven.”

      Your story emphasizes that there are several gradations of male privilege, and some men are definitely more privileged than others. Your rapist enjoyed the most coveted of all, jock privilege. It is an exquisitely American idea (though here in Canada we have our version of it) that talented male athletes should get away with just about anything, and as such they are given a free pass to use and abuse women and less privileged men. Americans have seen it at the high school level in Steubenville, in university at Penn State, and in amongst the pros in countless NFL and NBA scandals. I have offended a lot of hardcore basketball fans by asserting that the homophobic and misogynist Kobe Bryant almost certainly assaulted that hotel worker in Colorado, since innocent men don’t have to pay hush money to accusers. The fact that Bryant can dribble a ball and win championships is all that many people, male and female, seem to care about, so all is forgiven and forgotten.

      I do believe, perhaps too optimistically, that there are a few safe places in the world insulated by such rampant misogyny, patriarchy, and toxic masculinity. Unfortunately, I can imagine nothing more dangerous to the safety and well-being of young woman than a university better known for its sports teams than its academic reputation, colluding with a backward small town police force and an incestuous and patriarchal medical community to oppress and silence victims and to protect and exalt the privileged ball dribblers and kickers no matter what.

      I am so sorry that such a horrid thing happened to you. It sounds like you didn’t stand a chance. I hope you are angry. I sure am.

      1. Your observation that academics / athletics risk is a succinct summation of the problem of entitlement in college athletics. Thank you.

      2. I would note that from historical perspective as a campus security director, there is also a definite link between college athletes and alcohol abuse, in conjunction with sexual assaults. Not to be redundant, but we must address the alcohol problem concurrently or I believe the assaults, student to student, will continue.

      3. I have worked in university student health and certainly agree that binge drinking among young people is a longstanding and ubiquitous worry. Curiously, i don’t think it is any worse on Canadian campuses than American ones, despite our drinking age of 18 or 19 (depending on the province) vs. 21 across the US. People of all ages have pursued alterations of consciousness throughout human history, and I for one would far prefer to odour marijuana pervading dorms, residence halls, and frat houses than stale beer and vomit. If there was a paradigm shift amongst young people and marijuana were legal and, even more important, destigmatized, campus security and residence dons would have fewer fires to put out. A college freshman seeking intoxication through alcohol knows he faces at the worst a underage drinking citation. But that same person caught with a joint or a tiny ziploc bag of oregano-like leaf faces a criminal conviction that could ruin his life. The only reason I didn’t use cannabis in university yet drank like a fish was fear of getting caught for the former–I was in the naval reserve and then the Canadian military took a zero tolerance approach to illicit drug use, yet tolerated alcohol use–even amongst underaged recruits and officer candidates such as me. Given the mess alcohol created for me in short order, cannabis would’ve been a less catastrophic option.

        That said, I can tell you as a long-abstinent alcoholic (with personal experience) and a doctor with some clinical experience with addictions that the inclination of some to demonize alcohol as the premier and even sole contributor to male sexual and physical aggression is perilously naive. I speculate that a lot of adolescent and young adult impulsiveness and and general idiocy would be reduced if alcohol didn’t have such a toxic hold on student life. But that doesn’t address the systemic issue of rape culture entitlement that enables by no means all but still far too many privileged young men to seek and get what they want from girls and women, no matter what. Reduced use of alcohol on campus might mean fewer young women rendered vulnerable to act (though I still think that the onus for reducing rape always falls on the potential perpetrators and never the potential victims), but as one who has met a few sex offenders in a clinical and correctional context I can assure you that these guys (and I anticipate MRA objections by insisting the “guys” is completely appropriate here) are Einsteins when it comes to identifying, grooming, and dominating their victims. The athlete-rapist culture is ingrained in complex dynamics of power and entitlement that likely began when these guys were pre-teens and showing talent and thus receiving attention and privilege and continual reinforcement that they were important. I doubt that Ms. Ketroser’s rape was a simple case of a nice guy gone bad due to a little too much at a kegger. Lots of young men drink too much and hit on girls, too often to the point of harassment. Raping someone at knife point is a special kind of nasty altogether.

  9. Brilliant, thoughtful, passioned, well-informed response Dr Gunter. I hope you’ve pierced that bubble he lives in and reached others too.

  10. His Pulitzer should be revoked. What a piece of crap – both he and his “well-researched” article.

  11. I constantly see “victim” “victim” “victim” on here. That’s part of Will’s point – that the assumption of victim status comes before any proof of the same. You can’t call it blaming the victim before you know if it’s even true the person is a victim.

    1. And you and Will are both wrong. It isn’t my main area of clinical focus, but I have some experience doing psychotherapy with victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault. No one has ever dared ask me, “Doctor, how can you be so sure that Ms. X was really raped?” but if one did my retort would be simply, “Because she told me so.” Will’s thesis is that rape victim status is so privileged and so coveted that young university women will be clamouring to embrace it with a floodgate of vexatious allegations. Those of us in the trenches who have actually met these people, men and women alike, know bloody well that, barring the occasional false complainants that are not nearly as rampant as rape culture misogynists and rape apologists claim, no genuine victim of rape or sexual abuse comfortably admits to him- or herself, never mind others, that one has been so egregiously violated. The shame, fear, self-doubt, self-reproach, and irrational guilt is profound for many and for some victims never dissipates, no thanks in part to rape culture messages that victims somehow bring it on themselves. No victim has to PROVE that he or she is a victim. What you and Will don’t get it is that it is a gargantuan task to even ACKNOWLEDGE it. So, I repeat, how do I know that a rape victim is a rape victim? Whenever she (or occasionally he) tells me that someone raped her (or him). Almost all of the time, that is good enough for me.

  12. False allegations do happen, are not as rare as they should be, and when they do proceed to aggressive investigation (as in the Duke lacrosse case) or wrongful conviction (as with the Brian Banks fiasco) they are terrible injustices that should be denounced. But for the most part false allegations get weeded out fairly early, and in practical terms it is vanishingly unlikely that any man–particularly a white man with the means to attend university–will be wrongly convicted of sexual assault especially when you appreciate that most genuine sexual assaults never even get reported, never mind referred for prosecution. And even then the conviction rates are low.

    Women who make false allegations do so for a number of sad reasons, including fear of retaliation from a father, spouse, or boyfriend. Many are very damaged and disturbed people who have known genuine trauma before and believe MISTAKENLY that lodging a complaint will provide them with desired attention, care and compassion. (They often find out the opposite is true.) On the other hand, genuine victims usually suspect all too well that reporting will unleash a massive clusterfuck of recrimination and is anything but empowering. I have encountered a few abused and assaulted women in my work, including one who went all the way to trial (the attackers were acquitted, which is the usual result in acquaintance rape cases in Canada), and I haven’t met one yet who thinks that as a victim she wields such enviable power. On the contrary, these women often lose male friends who don’t know how to relate to them, women friends who can’t cope with reminders of their own vulnerability, and even close family members who get exasperated and cut ties when the victim just won’t put the past behind her and move along already.

    Though I do agree that something needs to be done to simmer down the more frantic presentation of rape culture as a world in which all men are potential aggressors and all women need live in amorphous fear of all men, I have enough personal and professional experience to know that George Will is dangerously out to lunch. The fact that anyone in such a position of power–an opinion columnist at one of the most influential newspapers in the world–can speak with such authority about sinister motivations among young women when it is obvious he has likely never ever met an actual university student rape victim is so professionally irresponsible I think it constitutes irredeemable journalistic misconduct. First Amendment considerations aside, this is hate speech and hate speakers in the mainstream press need to be shut down.

    Leslie Wright, MD, MEd, FRCPC
    Adult General Psychiatry & Psychotherapy
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada

  13. If being raped is a privilege then why the hell am I still suffering from when my biological father raped me when I was 3 years old? Fuck you and every filthy pig that ever violated any woman. If being raped confers privilege then mabie you pigs need some privilege to.

  14. Dr. Gunter, your response to George Will’s pro-rape column is a must-read. I find it disgusting that the mainstream news media in this country is aiding and abetting the far too pervasive rape culture in this country by allowing people like George Will to spout lies about rape.

  15. Thank you for your bravery in writing this. I am deeply moved by your poise and grace, and disgusted by the behavior of some who share my gender.
    Thank you too for not hating the entire lot of us. I doubt I could be so magnanimous in your shoes.
    Zeb Norris.

  16. Excellent letter! Saw it on TalkingPointsMemo. Such a perfect thrashing for George Will, the village imbecile. The misogynists are not even bothering to conceal it anymore. I sent it to my therapist colleagues who specialize in treating domestic violence.

  17. I cannot praise this enough. So well written and in a way that even those less educated would be able to understand and relate. Extremely impressed with everything about it and unfortunately this is an all too real account for so many women. There are such a huge number of us who have battled this our entire lives and sometimes do not have voice loud enough, or maybe a voice in the right place to expose this horrendous victim blaming rape culture for what it is. Thank you. Might I add, that even if you are lucky enough to not let being a victim of rape define you in your own view, others may not be so forgiving- for lack of a better term.

  18. Thank you for your article, Dr. Gunter. George Will is an annoying little may who really, REALLY deserved that.

  19. Thank you, Jen Gunter, for being a strong woman and a voice for many, many women.

  20. Reblogged this on Top of JC's Mind and commented:
    Dr. Jennifer Gunter wrote this powerful response to the recent George Will column about rape on college campuses. It’s easy to tell who is the wise voice of wisdom through personal experience and who is the voice of ignorance.

  21. Dr. Gunter,
    Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m so sorry that you were raped.
    I was very happy to read your criticism of George Will. The lies and misinformation he spread will be read by far too many people, making it that much harder for women to speak up about sexual assault. I hate that he’s got such a big platform to spew his BS from.

  22. I think when a male responds to a female’s ‘no’ with ‘you must a lesbian,’ his penis should fall off.

  23. Really, DOUGLAIN? You’re comparing the “borrowing” of a human body to the borrowing of a car? A woman can be made pregnant, sick, and traumatized by unwanted sex. One “no” was enough.

  24. Very excellent letter – clear, concise, and true! I sure hope you printed it and mailed it to the WashingtonPost and also emailed it directly to Georgie.

    Unfortunately, men like Will cannot allow themselves to ever admit that they are wrong, apologize and then work to do something positive to correct the evil they condone.

  25. You think that thoughtful reply has any effect on the George Willsof the world? Now freed from his ABC contract he has free reign to be what he has always been. A smug, overprivileged douche who came from privilege and cares not a whit for the common man and even less for women. Never mind that Will is been proven to be wrong on all of his prognostications and opinions, as long as he is willing to dance like the monkey for the right wing, his paycheck is secure. I’ve never liked the man. I’ve always thought of him as an arrogant blowhard with a touche of that pet the little woman and and go get a cup of coffee for me, little woman type. Be a dear, will you? Blech. How anyone pays this old fart for opinions on anything is beyond me. But there he sits, on Fox News every Sunday opining with certitude on every matter under the sun, collecting a fat paycheck for spouting drivel.

  26. I thank you for standing up. As the father of a little beautiful girl, I have never felt more scared, knowing how women are treated around the world and the profound male denial that dominates our society.

  27. My only issue with her letter is the reference to the Duke case in which a black woman was sodomized with a broom by a lacrosse team and the used condoms, thus no physical evidence. She was vilified because of her consensual sex prior to dancing for these boys. Her assault did happen but “justified” because of race and class, how dare she tell them no with her black low class self. All women deserve justice and all boys should be taught and held accountable, even those women we think of as less than and “asking for it” and those boys whose famines can buy them ” justice”. That is why I am not a feminist, rather a womanist.

      1. Thanks, Jen. The Duke case is very well established as a false allegation case.The irony in the Duke case is that the police and prosecutors did what all investigators and prosecutors should do in all sexual assault cases–they believed the victim, and in this case they did so to a fault well after the case was falling apart. It is as though they were so concerned with the optics of appearing to go too easy on a group of privileged mostly white college men that they went into some sort of fanatical overcompensation mode. The Duke case is, fortunately, an egregious exception, and I know quite a few feminists who are concerned by false allegations that go too far because misogynists love to jump on these errors as “proof” of an epidemic that isn’t. As you well know in your work, and I know in mine, it is the inclination of law enforcement and the courts to under-investigate and under-prosecute GENUINE cases. The Duke fiasco was distressing outlier, but it was hardly the harbinger of any false allegation witch hunt to come. It is unlikely that the typical rapist will ever face prosecution. And despite fear-mongering, the probability is vanishingly minuscule that any man who does not harass or assault women will ever be faced with a false allegation, never mind prosecution and conviction. I think the best way for any man to avoid being accused of rape is simple not to rape anyone, and to know very clearly what is consent and what is not. These days the public information is all over the place. There is no excuse.

  28. This is a very eloquent and poignant response, Dr. Gunter, which is adding to the chorus of distaste for Will’s remarks. Thanks for your courage in speaking about it publicly.

    For those who have had enough of Mr. Will’s neverending 1950’s sensibilities on so many issues – not to mention his incessant denial of climate science – please understand that as long as Fred Hiatt (a chief cheerleader for the Iraq invasion that has now claimed about a million lives over there) remains in charge of the Washington Post editorial page, Will will keep spouting his offensively ignorant stances.

    Please tell Post owner Jeff Bezos that it’s time for a change at the Post. Washingtonians – and the country – deserve much better. Please check out this new petition and consider signing. Thanks!

  29. Let me be one of the many who thank you profusely for this article and your forthright personal story. There appears to be a pattern within the current GOP mind wherein they confuse David and Goliath. They consistently make bullies, the cruel, the powerful, the destructive and the wealthy into martyrs and vilify victims as well as those who need help aid and empathy. It’s truly disturbing.

  30. “Come spend a day in my clinic Mr. Will. Come see how the scars of rape linger even decades later.” is a good and generous offer of a free education, but Doctor, you are asking a conservative to admit he doesn’t know everything.

  31. Perfect response. I’ve been raped twice…once by my live-in boyfriend. (He used a hot electric curling iron). And once by my boyfriend’s room mate. He told my boyfriend I came on to him and my BF broke up with me. I never reported either rape. Its been over 30 years, but I still remember them vividly.

    So where’s my privilege?

  32. Thank you so much for writing about/ to George Will. I did too. I also wrote the Post and the NYTImes. I used “myopic” and “mysogynistic” too. I also encouraged him to talk to the women in his own family and ask them about this topic and their experiences with agressive or innapropriate men. I am glad to see other women paying attention.
    Thank you !

  33. As a male, a father, a grandfather, and a Christian, I cannot tolerate the stupidity and uncaring of any individual who makes light of or excuses for rape or assault.

  34. This letter should be mandatory reading for any judge who ever sits on even one rape trial.

  35. On what basis do you suppose Will to have been confused by the statistics? Rape statistics, like abortion statistics, and second-hand smoke statistics, and HIV transmission statistics (less so, in the last decade), and a dozen other issues for which political interest group funding vastly outstrips legitimate academic inquiry, are largely absurd. I suspect you actually agree with this, as you address the statistics only in the context of explaining the nature of the sampling error. I think Will’s tone invites his readers’ bad faith, but it does not excuse it; George Will did not offer an argument on the rate at which rape is unreported.

    This we’ll disagree on: “There is no woman who I have ever met personally or as an OB/GYN who thinks that surviving a rape confers some sort of privilege.” What is the purpose of introducing your personal stories of assault unless you believe they give your position on the subject more weight than it would be owed absent them?

    1. I can only assume that you are here to troll or you are incredibly obtuse. Or both. Provide evidence based facts to back up your myriad of claims on sexual assault, second hand smoke, etc or post elsewhere.

      Failing to understand the point of a personal anecdote in conveying a message or the point of speaking up when so many women are afraid to? Well, I guess I’d begin with not understanding the point of a blog and end somewhere around rape apologist and misogynist.

      1. It is widely accepted that women are vulnerable in matters sexual in a way that men are not. Unfortunately, this vulnerability is all-too-frequently used as a trump card. We very often hear that a man’s view on a matter is fallacious and even should not be expressed because he “cannot understand” the experiences that women have. (The reverse i.e. that a woman cannot understand a man’s experience, is never conceded). This, to me, is an example of the privilege that is conferred by women’s greater vulnerability.

        A female teacher who has a sexual relationship with her 15-year-old student will not face anything close to the censure that awaits a male teacher having a sexual relationship with his 15-year-old student. When a man experiments with casual sex, such behavior is criticized for exploiting his female sex partners. In contrast, a woman engaging in casual sex is not subject to that criticism. (and it’s not true that women always have deeper feelings for their sex partners than the reverse – I’ve had unhappy experience with that).

        The freedom to act without censure in these situations is a privilege. It is a source of power, and it would be surprising if this were not coveted.

    2. Courts ignoring or trivializing rape cases simply heap humiliation on people who were, by the definition of rape, humiliated in the act. This is the extra dollop of shame and pain that frequently tips the victim into suicide.

  36. This opinion piece had the ring of personal experience. The late-night wrestling match in college, successful or not, may not have been that rare for George. Come on, ladies, let’s dish.

  37. I have never EVER replied to an article or commentary, thinking them to be too trite, but I feel compelled say, simply, thank you, from one woman to another. I think I can also speak for hundreds of survivors who I know personally and/or have worked with.

  38. Thank you for replying to his stupid column. I too was appalled; and not brave enough to share my experience as you have. You are particularly correct about the problems with most police departments… there is a program here in State College, PA (a university town) which has been shared with other departments around the country which does provide support to victims. Nothing makes this easy, and idiot articles like Wills’ make survival harder for us all. Again Thank You for speaking up so well for all of us.

  39. Great article. Disappointed that it was immediately followed by ads that objectify women.

  40. Powerful piece and I hope Will sees it – If it does not turn him around then he is most definitely a lost case and a waste of a human being. Thank you for sharing your story and giving a voice to all the silent survivors who have endured the violent act of rape ~ you are a true warrior!

  41. How many fathers/mothers have discussions with their sons about why they shouldn’t rape women–not just with their daughters as to how to (try to) prevent being raped.

  42. George Will would never understand unless he had to live his life being groped and insulted by other men trying to do him.

  43. Thank you. You are my sister of experience, silence and outrage. Thank you for putting this into such an honest and clear voice.

  44. Will’s column made me angrier than anything has for quite a while. I happen to know for a fact that one of my classes (and my university as a whole) lost a talented student this semester because she was raped by someone she considered a friend. She never reported it, but she was unable to finish the semester and will be somewhere else next year. Other students in the class lost the benefit of her insights. And of course she lost a semester of her education (at least), her peace of mind, and much more.

    Victimhood is not a position to which any sane person aspires. But the right’s ongoing narrative is that anyone at a disadvantage due to gender, race, or economics deserves not help but scorn. This is part and parcel of that sick and twisted inversion of reality.

    That someone who has a reputation as a national columnist could write something so egregious is hard to imagine and impossible to stomach. I’ve often thought that Will was a dime-store version of William F. Buckley (whom I never admired, but whom I positively long for as a voice on the right these days). Now it turns out he’s actually Rush Limbaugh with a bow-tie.

    He deserves all the blow-back he gets, and more.

  45. Thank you for the bravery it took to share this well written and polite response to such insensitivity and ignorance. I am so sorry for what you have gone through.

  46. I have tears in my eyes and have never wanted to hug someone like I want to hug you right now. Thank you. Thank you for your bravery, for your story, and for speaking up for those who don’t.

  47. Washington Post is the new, what a disgrace, soon MRA so-called mens rights is gonna have to have it’s own section. One column won’t be enough. These cool MRA guys like to keep going all day.

  48. “This weekend I was out dancing and experienced what I think you referred to as “micro-aggressions.” I had my buttocks pinched three times and my breasts groped twice. I was called a “bitch” and a “50-year-hag” when I politely declined hopeful suitors. Whether it is a cat call or a grope these actions represent sexual aggression and Mr. Will they have little to do with sex and everything to do with aggression. I wish someone taught those 40-something-year-old men in college that verbal assaults are not the appropriate response to “no thank you” and that pinching a women’s behind is not a mating ritual.”

    And I wish that 47 year old alleged former rape victims who claim that we should care about it had enough social responsibility to actually do something about it when (they claim) they are getting groped and pinched multiple times over 25 years later. Rather than rather melodramatic, unverifiable whining in the media about all of this.

    Seriously…you were being groped and assaulted and pinched and you did…absolutely nothing about it???? You didn’t even go over to the bouncer in whatever meat market club you were trying to get picked up at, and complained about all of this??? You didn’t tell any of your friends you were with??? You didn’t even give these pinchers/gropers/harassers a piece of your mind?

    Excuse me if I don’t believe a word of this. Hope that doesn’t make me a mysoginist.

      1. Considering that’s not what’s meant by “micro-aggressions”, the whole story was irrelevant. You show a remarkable ability to refrain from addressing what George Will is actually saying.

    1. Yes, Atilla, it makes you a “misogynist”. Do you have any idea what happens to women who speak up, who tell a man to stop doing whatever they’re doing and that their attentions are unwelcome? Of course you don’t. I’ll bet you’ve never faced an enraged, possibly drunk male that may outweigh you by 100 pounds at the least and might wait for you to leave the club so he can exact his revenge.

      Why do you think women on the street don’t look an oncoming male in the eye or engage him?

      I also wonder why you think the author would be in a “meat market club”. So in other words, a woman who’d like to dance or visit with friends in the evening is automatically trolling for a date/open season. Is that what you just said? Did you mean it?

      Rape culture is alive and well. It’s also aided and abetted by guys like you.

      1. Having been in (too) many bars, and having worked as a bar bouncer, I’ve never seen a bouncer who wouldn’t take action for something like this. The jerk would probably get one warning and if he apologized, be allowed to stay. I’ve thrown out men for this, and it didn’t take a complaint from the woman involved in most cases – either I saw it, or someone else did and told me. Threw out what turned out to be a cop for pinching a woman, and when his friends pulled out their badges, threatened to call their department. I think any bouncer would do the same.
        Please, if you have this happen to you, or you see it happen to someone else, speak up and have the idiot ejected. Bouncers are usually guys who find protecting people from aggressive drunks and other jerks the only redeeming feature of the job, and are glad to do what they can to keep you safe. Apart from being the right thing, it’s good for business and most club owners will fire a bouncer too dumb to realize that.

      2. “A woman who’d like to dance or visit with friends in the evening is automatically trolling for a date/open season?”

        Well, it certainly is presumed that any man in a dancing establishment is trolling. And if he talks to a woman in such establishment, it is presumed automatically that he is hitting on her.

        Actually, women tend to presume that a man in pretty-much any situation is trying to get into her pants.

    2. You can certainly believe it happens… and mostly isn’t reported, because (at least until recently), nothing would have been done ninety percent of the time (you might be told to stay away from those guys on the floor).

      I have found that spinning around, glaring, and bellowing “What the *F*** do you think you’re doing!?!” works better than reporting it, for the most part. But that’s not the sort of thing that makes lists of statistics (and it helps to be known and liked in the bar or club you’re in).

    3. Oh, Jesus. Yeah, she was either “asking for it” by going out dancing with friends (say what?!?) or making it up to make her post more hyperbolic (say what?!?).

      Dude, you have no idea.

      That sort of stuff stopped happening to me somewhere around the time I got together with my husband and got a big fat old wedding ring on my finger. But I can tell you that before that it happened so regularly that I DIDN’T BOTHER REPORTING IT. It was just “stuff that happens”. I had learned the bellowing mentioned above, and had guys tell me plaintively (after rubbing my ass while I was talking with/dancing with friends), “I was just trying to be FRIENDLY!!”

      Rubbing someone’s ass, or grabbing their boobs, or catcalling–these are not “trying to be friendly”. And they happen to women in public spaces All. The. Damned. Time. No woman I know has to “make up” stories about unwanted touching, ever.

      It’s just because it’s SO common that we don’t talk about it–it’s like a “dog bites man” story to women.

    4. Yes ‘Atilla’ you’re definitely a misogynist. Women should be able to participate in life as much as everyone else, and that includes going to a club and enjoying themselves without a man groping them or pinching their butt. That’s sexual assault and yet men like them, and you don’t think it’s a big deal, bc as Ms Gunter said, sexual aggression is normalized. It isn’t cool to sexually assault a woman, and it isn’t cool for you to engage in rape apologetics.

    5. Times have changed towards rape victims & young women who report being groped. The bouncer probably would have asked her “What do you want me to do about it?” in a very sarcastic way.

  49. Thank you for this powerful response. I can’t believe that a human being would be capable of writing the piece he did. So little compassion, so much hate. Thanks for the antidote to reading his words.

  50. As a retired director of campus security, I fully concur with Dr. Günter, and would add that a major contributing factor is alcohol use. Not only are colleges and universities promulgating a rape culture on campuses via denial, they are also refusing to deal with any effectiveness their thundering alcohol problems. From an inside perspective, rape on campus and inhibition lowering substances go hand in hand. Rape is by far the most devastating of the two, but to eliminate the first, you must also address the other. At this point it appears to me that no institution in the USA has a thorough understanding of the issues and no one is doing anything about it with any effectiveness or acceptance.

    1. I have to agree- alcohol is a huge contributing factor in colleges. As a 43 year old happily married mother of 3, I am still upset when I remember an “incident” that I have never called rape but others have. I was 20, in college at a party off campus, recently dumped by a boyfriend, and another young man I knew made sure my glass was never empty and then offered to drive me home. When I realized he wasn’t taking me to my dorm but his apartment (he was 25), I was confused and protested weakly. When he brought me in and laid me on the couch and got on top of me and started kissing me and asked me if I wanted to have sex, my first answer was no. When he continued asking I said I didn’t know. I don’t believe there was ever a yes. I was so drunk that I didn’t stop him or even protest once he started, but it felt wrong to me. I believe the beer was as much to blame as the young man, and I still blame myself for putting myself in that situation.

      1. The fault in this story is with the boy who planned what happened – and he did plan it! Men don’t do this impulsively. They set things up so that they can manipulate young women. That guy knew exactly what he intended, what he planned, and what he was going to do if he could get you to a location he could control. He misled you, beginning with the “friendly” offer of more beer, and then by offering a ride “home.” Details in the story that support this. He kept your glass full, and he drove you to his apartment. He stayed sober enough to drive. He had a plan. It is impossible for any young woman to foresee every person who will lie to her. So, it is equally difficult to believe that you should blame yourself. His actions have the word deceit written all over them. From the moment he drove in a direction away from your dormitory, he did not have your consent, and he knew it. Yes, beer helped him, but he was the one providing the beer.

      2. Only you are entitled to ultimately decide whether you were or were not raped, but you deserve to know (and I will not to be to indelicate about it) that it seems you gave nothing remotely close to competent consent for sex. Players, pick-up artists, misogynists, and rape apologists will insist that lack of enduring no is as good as a yes, and that ceasing to resist or protest is as good as a yes. This is just not true, either in law, or according to basic human decency and common sense. I was on a university campus 23 years ago as a medical student, and I can assure you that sexual assault awareness programs were all over the place and the elements of sexual consent were actively discussed, even then, so there is no way that your attacker could claim ignorance of the then ubiquitously known, if oft protested, legal and ethical principle that a woman as impaired as you were was by definition incapable of giving proper consent for sex.

        As for your regret at “putting [yourself] in that situation,” allow me an analogy. I do agree that it is generally imprudent and unsafe to be so intoxicated as to undermine one’s ability to look out for oneself, and as a long-abstinent alcoholic I appreciate this very well from painful experience. That said, no one deserves to get assaulted or otherwise victimized just for being drunk. If I walk through a certain downtown park in my city I will stumble across homeless men dozing in various vulnerable locations and positions, perhaps some sleeping off some intoxicant. Do I or anyone else have the right, out of righteous indignation, to physically attack such defenceless people simply because I can, rationalizing my behaviour with, “Well, he shouldn’t have put himself in that situation”? Of course not. Same with you. Same with any intoxicated rape victim, whether her intoxication was entirely self-induced, brought about by some powerful sedative like rohypnol or GHB, or, in your case, through the grooming of a predator.

        I think there are cases where intoxicated horny young people have sloppy drunken sex where the sex is dubious and there is shame and regret after but at the time the mutuality of the encounter implied consent even if it wasn’t as explicit as desired. These are the cases that George Will “fears” will ruin “good” young men through post-coital regrets turning into rape complaints, though in my experience (and I suspect Dr. Gunter’s) no one in their right mind wants to see complaints and prosecutions in such cases, only heightened awareness and improved mutual respect between young men and women. Your own case isn’t anywhere near such a messy grey area. Indeed, it is so far over the line of any ambiguity it’s quite daunting. Many have told you over the years you were raped because, according to any credible criteria, you were. And I am so sorry that happened to you.

        I am by no means a white knight male feminist. I am very concerned about numerous core concerns regarding men’s health and well-being, and though I don’t deny male privilege exists I don’t think that such privilege benefits all men equally. Many men are legitimate victims of much injustice–some of it based on gender–and I am distressed that men are so poor at organizing ourselves and nurturing ourselves in a way that doesn’t damage women or other oppressed people. I suspect many of the contributors to this discussion would vigourously disagree with me on several points regarding gender issues. But this is one point on which everyone, whether one calls oneself a feminist, equalist, humanist–whatever–must unite: Decent men don’t have sex with drunk girls and call it consensual. Decent men don’t touch women’s bodies without consent. Decent men DO approach women in friendship as part of a respectful courtship ritual, but when they are rebuffed (usually politely) they move along without rancour and DON’T excoriate a woman for exercising her basic right to decide to whom she wishes to give her time and attention. Now I had a pretty backward upbringing around such things, but even my crazy family never implied to me that women owed me their time and attention just because they were pretty and I was “nice.”

        I am deeply sorry for what you experienced all those years ago, and I wish you the very best however you choose to process it. No matter what you decide, remember one thing–it wasn’t your fault. This is all on him.

      3. Les wrote, “I think there are cases where intoxicated horny young people have sloppy drunken sex where the sex is dubious and there is shame and regret after but at the time the mutuality of the encounter implied consent even if it wasn’t as explicit as desired. These are the cases that George Will “fears” will ruin “good” young men through post-coital regrets turning into rape complaints, though in my experience (and I suspect Dr. Gunter’s) no one in their right mind wants to see complaints and prosecutions in such cases, only heightened awareness and improved mutual respect between young men and women.”

        It occurred to me while reading this that the solution here is simple. We unfairly teach young women to protect themselves from rape, why is it more of a burden to expect that young men should know how to protect themselves from false rape charges or from charges stemming from these kinds of messy situations? To protect himself from a rape charge, all a young man has to do is not have sex with a woman unless she has clearly and soberly consented. If he’s not sure, the answer is “no.” And maybe this also means that *he* stays sober enough that he can tell clearly how the woman feels. Then there’s no messy, confusing situations to sort out the next day.

      4. Thank you to Bill and Les for your replies. I am just finding these (apparently I never confirmed my desire to be notified of replies.) even 25 years later, there is still hurt and guilt. Your words helped me release some guilt. I actually have mutual friends with this man on Facebook, and I still have bad feelings when I see his picture. I try to take solace in the fact that he is a small man (both in stature and in “size”) and this might have been the only way he could “get laid.” I have been happily married for 22 years to the boyfriend who had “dumped” me right before the incident occurred. (We started dating again a few months later.) At the time, I told my now-husband, and he really wanted to go beat the crap out of this guy, who had been his friend, but I stopped him, feeling I was partly to blame. (they were never friends again after that.) As this guy was driving me home after it was all over and I was starting to sober up, I told him I didn’t want him to mention this to my ex-boyfriend as I would rather tell him myself (I was still friends with my ex). This guy immediately got very nervous and said he would rather that neither of us told him. This was my first real hint that he knew what he had done was wrong.
        Again, thanks for your “third person perspective.” Your words help more than you might know.

  51. Thanks for the article Dr. Gunter. As a man, I can only relate to being held down as a pre teen and not allowed to get off the ground while an older neighbor slapped by face and taunted me, …in addition to verbal and physical bullying on many occasions. It all left me very disempowered, physically and psychologically. I was angry for years and turned to substance abuse. – I also remember sleeping on the bedroom floor of a female friend in Germany because we knew that a bed together was not the place for us. We both chose to avoid being too physically close, period. Old fashioned but it worked. – Men should not force themselves on a woman, nor a child, nor another man. It’s rape. Women as well should neither do the same. It is rape. – Some men AND women behave sexually aggressive towards each other and call it normal, both under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or totally sober. Young people are smoking marijuana, taking drugs and sexually flirting with each other as if it is normal, thus normalizing aggressive sexual advances. I was brought up that this too, is wrong. – The subject is difficult because young men and women are normalizing sexual aggression. They have abandoned any moral code at the expense of those who LIVE by a moral code. Trusting a person we THINK is “a friend” may be a person we should not trust. – All said and done, I think rape needs to be talked about and women and men need to be protected from it, including protecting ourselves by not using drugs and alcohol in possible or likely sexual environments. My parents taught me to avoid these situations, as a human being, religion aside. I have thought for many years that men and women are normalizing sexuality in too many ways. Provocative clothes including tight clothes and yoga pants do not help. We may be free to wear these clothes. But if they make us look “sexy”, then we, in my opinion, are wrong, in public. That is just my opinion. Of course we are free. Having grown up in a locker room of young men in Junior and High School, we cannot trust men, nor women in general. We have to choose who we spend time with. – Rape is completely unacceptable. Let’s use some written warnings on campus etc. As individuals, let us also avoid situations that encourage sex with people to whom we are not mutually emotionally committed, on THAT level. Thank you again for your article. It will help many people and enlighten the many who choose to be ignorant.

    1. The problem is, the more you talk about what victims have to do to protect themselves from rape, the more you portray rapists and men in general as mindless animals who can’t help themselves when faced with “temptation.” Saying that provocative clothes, the normalization of sexuality, and the fact that people in general can’t be trusted all contribute to the one of the real problems: victim-blaming. It plants the idea in young men’s heads that if the girl is hot enough, flirtatious enough, and everyone is drunk enough, then a man just can’t help himself. Imagine using that logic in another scenario. Let’s say there is a car-theft epidemic in a major city. Someone argues, “Car theft is a major problem, and part of the problem is that people are buying nicer cars. When a person buys a flashy red car, they are wrong to drive it around in public.” This assumes, at some level, that car theft happens because a normal, good person is walking around and suddenly sees a car that is too tempting to not steal. So quick, everyone, paint your cars an ugly brown and strew trash around inside! Once all the cars are ugly, we won’t have theft anymore! Absurd isn’t it?

      Here’s how we, as a society, should actually protect women from rapists: We can all work together to actually expose and convict rapists when rapes occur. One of the best ways to do this is to reduce as much as possible the shame rape victims feel: shame which in part comes from people thinking “Oh but look at what she was wearing. She shouldn’t have been drinking at a frat house anyway. Why was she flirting with all those guys?” Those silent or vocal accusations are a big part of why rapists are never exposed and victims never get justice.

      As a man, I feel it is demeaning when someone implies I am by my very nature too impulsive to be trusted around women. I believe I am, like all sane humans, a fundamentally rational being, fully capable of choosing to do right and abstain from wrong, regardless of what other people around me are doing. It should be the goal of all men to help end victim-blaming and rape culture.

      1. Thank you James for your rational argument and comments, as well as, taking responsibility as a human being and as a male. It is refreshing to hear from real men who know the difference between right and wrong. I know there are many out there like yourself, and I hope more speak up as you have. I taught both of my children, one boy and one girl, to respect others. I always stressed to my son to treat women with respect. He has always been a gentleman such as yourself. We ALL have to address this problem, but good men can especially be helpful in training other men what is appropriate and what is not. Thank you again.

  52. A terrific response. I don’t believe it will penetrate George Will’s sense of complacency, but with luck it will be read by some people who may have mistaken his claims for the truth.

  53. I want to echo the sentiments of so many others who have already commented. Thank you! Thank you for the courage, for what must have been both freeing and challenging. Your voice gives voice to so many.

  54. Dr. Gunter, you are awesome and brave. I doubt Mr. Will will ever read it but many rape victims will and will gain some measure of power. Truth is powerful. Thanks for laying yours out there.

  55. Thank you so much for writing your most welcomed rebuttal to the idiotic statements of George Wil. You are indeed a courageous woman who has helped rape victims by your example. Thank God that right will always undermine the wrong that’s been done. I have lost all respect for Mr. Wil and the likes of him. God bless you!

  56. Will is a pseudo intellectual who looks down upon the common woman/man. Being forced against your will, pun intended, to experience sexual violation is something that another person cannot truly understand because that experience is an individual moment in space and time. We are born alone, live alone and die alone, but life is to be shared with others and that interaction makes living worthwhile. Rape is a violent act against the physical body, the emotional being, and the spiritual connection to all other living, sentient beings. Rape is a crime and needs to be treated as such… the truth needs to be found without the victim being victimized again. Men need to teach male children that rape is not even an option to be considered, unless, of course you are a sociopath that cares for no one, not even yourself. Just my opinion at 0100 hundred hours.

  57. Reblogged this on The Cranky Giraffe and commented:
    Maybe after I have been an OB/GYN for a while, and I have seen what Dr. Gunter has seen… maybe I will have her level of courage to so speak out and speak back. What she has to say is all too familiar, but I’m glad she had the courage to say it.

  58. Your account seems a bit more clear-cut then the story presented in Will’s opinion piece.

    The woman’s account in Will’s piece describes spooning in bed with a guy, and then saying “no” when said guy tries to initiate sex. The man stops and the two go to sleep, and then later on in the night the man wakes the woman up and attempts to initiate sex again. At which point the woman allows him to have sex with her because she’s “tired and doesn’t want to argue.”

    That’s iffy, but it doesn’t scream “rape” to me. He should have stopped at the first “no” and left it alone for at least the rest of the night, but “no” now doesn’t mean you can never try again ever. I don’t know why she couldn’t have just said “no” again. The man stopped without argument the first time around. She also didn’t consent because she was scared for her safety, but only because she was tired and didn’t feel like arguing (according to her own words). I’ve done that before (in a relationship), and I don’t consider it rape. Calling that rape suggests that when presented with a choice between getting raped and arguing while tired, it’s rape that’s the lesser of those two evils. Talk about diminishing the seriousness of the crime.

    Your account is much more obviously rape. You said no repeatedly and the man physically forces you to comply until you finally just stop resisting because it obviously isn’t doing any good. That’s a bit different than going along with it because someone asked you for sex twice and you simply don’t want to argue.

    1. But George will wasn’t just refering to the example here, he was generalizing. And for that he should be called to account. Wrong, George, wrong, wrong, wrong!

    2. @Roberta – it would seem that you missed the “point” of Mister Wills story with such a profound lack of detail. No matter how hard a female fights back in his scenario it is trivial to the rapist. What Mister Will does not seem to know (or, maybe he does not care) is that he seems to speak from the first person perspective when he describes this in vague terms, he lets us know that the “wa, wa, wa” noise is all they hear, “She only said no once…” serves the teller to make excuses for the rapist and as a dismissal of the victim. It is with deep seated misogyny that “men” like him think about victims as merely a tissue on which to relieve themselves. What he really does with his demeaning tone is tell on himself.

    3. So if I ask to borrow your car, and you say no, and I ask again, and you say no again, it’s OK for me to just take it later? That’s not really stealing?

      1. @Douglain This would be more the equivalent of me asking to borrow your car, you saying no, me waiting until you’re asleep and asking again, to which you reply “Huh? Aslkjfdl;” and I then proceed to take your keys and say I had permission.

        …Except your car is your body so it is much more dreadful.

    4. Sorry, but the vignette provided by Will, albeit incomplete and out of context, meets the criteria of rape by any reasonable standard. There was “carnal knowledge” without consent. How many times do men have to be told that the only Yes is clearly articulated Yes from a cognitively lucid person? This is NOT new–indeed, I learned long ago that the only situation where one can safely really on consent that is not verbalized but implied by familiar behaviour and enthusiastic participation is with a well known intimate partner, and even THEN the wise person knows to check in during the process. Sleepy mumbling is not consent. Acquiescence to avoid conflict is not consent. “Yes” uttered two hours ago is not consent if it is “No” now. The young man in the vignette would most certainly not be criminally convicted, as the woman’s vagueness and eventually “going along” would raise reasonable doubt on the consent issue. But that doesn’t make it right. Young people have been told that consent needs to be competent (i.e., not drunken), clear, and sustained since I was in university–and I turn 50 next week. This is all ancient history and yet people–mostly young men and those charged with prepping them for adult life–just aren’t getting it. What the hell is going on? People are not that dense. I am quite certain that the young man in our story was quite aware at the time that sticking his penis into a non-participating warm body hardly constituted a vibrant and mutually consensual sexual encounter.

      We can blather that kids will be kids and have been hooking up in a haze of booze and hormones since they started admitting women to universities. But all never forget an Orientation Week slogan one year back in my day that I believe was related to binge drinking but could have easily applied to the dysfunctional mating dance that often turned in date rapes though people were loathe to name them: “Some Traditions Were Made to be Broken.” Will has appealed to tradition–a favourite logical fallacy of conservatives–by raising the evil spectre of regulated progressivism mandating a stress-free cocoon in which women work and study. Of course higher education will always have stresses, and being a young man or woman will be fraught with the usual developmental challenges. But it isn’t the least unreasonable for women to desire and expect a shift in the attitudes that define them as existing primarily to defend themselves from unwanted male attention, from insensitive sexist commentary stupidly considered “game” all the way to the most horrendous aggression we have read in these comments, all the while being scapegoated as the most blameworthy for their own victimization. And on top of that there are even writers in this discussion who don’t think victims deserve to name their victimhood unless it is “proven first!

      That, I think, is at the core of rape culture.

  59. Thank you for writing this column. I saw George Will’s column in my local paper recently and was appalled. As a male, as a father to three daughters, as a husband, and as a professional who also deals with the fallout from these types of assaults. I am hoping that maybe my local paper will also print your column in their Opinion section, as your words need to be heard.

  60. Thank you for your column. I doubt Will will even bother to challenge his male entitlement assumptions, but yours is the closest thing to a response I would have made. I was raped over 40 years ago, at gunpoint, and in my own bed by someone who broke in to my apartment. I still have issues with safety in my own house – I often can’t sleep for fear that I will be raped again – issues with guns and with a fear response when I am held too tightly by a man. It never goes away. I understood then that no woman was safe from that kind of violation, as long as men thought women were only there to service them. Will and so many out there fall into that group.

    1. You realize that your terrible experience has absolutely nothing to do with what Will was talking about, right?

    1. You’re dead on right right about that. I’ve read enough of George Will to know that there is no room in his head for dissenting voices, nor any compassion in his heart those who he chosen to scorn. The article is a good one, but it falls on deaf ears.

      1. Let’s hope that some family member or friend will kindly and gently*** tell Mr. Will how wrong he is. Maybe a college age niece or nephew, or a spouse or sister or brother. Maybe the “copy boy” or “coffee girl” who might fetch a beverage for him. Or the waitress at his secret lunch spot will have the courage to just mention how appalled she was by his column. Or, perhaps best of all his own priest/minister or doctor might “esplain” somethings to this sad man who thinks in such an inhumane way. *** kind and gentle as a strategy to possibly pierce his pathetic bubble. Not that he especially deserves it but as an example of some compassion and mercy. I hope some women who know him well (there must be a few) will tell him their stories. And plead with him to rethink his opinion.

      2. While Mr. Will’s ears may indeed be deaf, there is an incredible value to Dr. Gunter’s courage in penning this letter and posting it: likely millions of young women will read her letter and perhaps her kind, generous, and most compassionate voice will be the one inside their heads, rather than his…

      3. Agree, but there’s an additional point that should be made: Accuse Mr. Will of having no heart, and he will sneer at you. Point out that his brain is not operating on an adequate level, and you hit him where he lives.

        The fact is that his practice of filtering all facts through Marie Antoinette’s blinders prevents him from having an intellectually defensible position on anything.

    2. You could always mail him a hundred of physical copies so he has no choice but to open at least one.

  61. Thank you thank you thank you for kicking G Will in his ‘sensitive’ parts with your intelligence and wit. Your strength should be a beacon to other women…and men

  62. Thank you for sharing your personal story.

    I find this sort of apologism hard to understand at times: I can only guess that the concept has its origins in the Garden of Eden, where Eve—made from Adam’s rib, and thus secondary, and second-rate—tempts him with the “apple”. Eve is the “baddie”, tempting Adam, and his problems are because of her; and if she says “rape”, well she was really “asking for it”, but being woman, and therefore unreliable, she changes her story to suit her mood. But quite where Adam and his successors got the idea that they had the “right” to have sex with the woman is beyond my understanding. I know, it all sounds a bit far-fetched…but yet, so much of what we read today is how the perpetrator is a wholesome bloke (or group), and that the “perpetree” is unreliable, Eve-like.

    Likewise, I’ve always found Jung’s ideas of the “archetype” to be strange; but, here, perhaps he had a point, and we really are hearing ancient voices calling.

    1. Do you know what I say when Eve is blamed for the “fall”? Adam was told by God himself not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. When Eve offered it to him, ADAM COULD HAVE SAID “NO!” I am sick of the “She tempted him and therefore it’s all her fault!” crap, especially when “tempting” consists a pretty dress and a smile.

      1. The “ideals” of Christianity as it arose in the Roman Empire have to be seen against the prevailing sexual orthodoxy. Which was that masculinity was determined by being the “active” partner, no matter if the other was male or female. And even “partner” isn’t quite right; the Greek male, as head of the family, seems to have had the right to have had sex with any member of the household—except, I presume, his children. In those times, a wife was for procreation, for the continuation of the family line, a concubine was for daily servicing of the body, and the hetairai were for pleasure.

        Consider poor Tiresias; he was once a man, but transformed into a woman for seven years, before becoming a man again. He was asked to settle a dispute between Zeus and Hera (Mrs Zeus); which sex has the greater sexual pleasure. When Tiresias said it was woman, Hera struck him blind.

        I’d guess that stories or myths such as this were known to the early Christians, and it’s easy to see how the idea of the over-sexed female temptress arose. You can see the fulminations of the early doctors of the church against women as a reaction to this—and of course all the doctors were male. Some of their sayings are quite amazing/alarming. (There were female bishops etc in the early church, but they have been airbrushed out of history: history, after all, is “written by the victors”.)

        Jung was more than a bit of a mystic, and if I’ve understood his idea of archetypes correctly, he was suggesting that there are “primitive’ concepts embedded in us, perhaps beyond our consciousness. And this idea that men have the “right”, and that women are the temptresses might be one of them.

        Before you bite my head off—justifiably—I’m not condoning this; I’m just struggling to find an explanation.

      2. Brilliant! Thanks, Cathryn, for reminding us of “original sin” (I mean “original BLAME”!) And an enormous “Thank You!” to Dr. Gunter for her effort to set the record straight with truth rather than supposition.

      3. I believe there is a major misconception about Adam and Eve. As far as I understand, God commanded them to replenish the earth first. Then He commanded them to not eat the fruit. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were not yet truly mortal and were physically unable to have children. In order to keep the commandment to bear children, they had to break the commandment to not eat the fruit. It had to be that way. God values our ability to choose so highly that He would not force His children to come to earth without their consent. They gave their consent to be mortal by eating the fruit. Yes, the serpent Lucifer had a role to deceive Eve through his lie to her that she would not die if she ate the fruit. However, she also made a choice–in my opinion, a very courageous choice–to give up the peace of the Garden in order to obey God and bear children.

        Now, if more women understood this, that women are in NO way under, beneath, or less than men, I hope they would teach their sons and their daughters. With mothers and fathers teaching their children, the incidence of violence and rape would drop. We need more honorable men who stand for what is good. We need women who are clear in their understanding of who they are. We need to help each other protect what is good.

    2. This bible story is a social construct which developed as males usurped spiritual power in the church. Look at origin stories from around the globe and you will find many simular stories which do don’t blame women for original sin.

  63. Reblogged this on Not for Polite Company and commented:
    This is a very visceral description of one woman’s experience of rape that is hard to read, but an excellent response to the recent op-ed piece on the “privilege” of being a rape victim.

  64. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your voice on this. It takes great courage to write publicly about something so personal and painful. Thank you for calling out this disgusting garbage and helping other survivors feel less alone.

      1. I was raped at nine years old by a relative who was here for his father’s funeral. Two children were left in his company while other relatives went to a wake. I have lived with this all of my life (I am 72 now) and the thought of it disgusts me still. George Will’s opinions also disgust me. How dare he even voice such thoughts. Is his opinion about child rape the same???

    1. Jennifer,

      The woman you describe in your blog is me and countless others. After years of indescribable abuse as a child by my father, 2 uncles, and grandfather that my mother had to know about and allowed to happen, I was assaulted by a colleague in my motel room while on a business trip. There was an initial struggle by me and telling him no, I don’t want this but then the old behaviors kicked in and I just did what I had to do to get it to be over. He finally left after 4 hours of doing whatever he wanted. I can still see the clock when it started and ended. I totally disassociated for 2 days until I collapsed at a business meeting and was taken to the hospital where the assault was repeated yet again by medical personnel and the police. I am not a survivor. I am among the walking wounded, irrevocably broken with huge pieces of me taken by force. George Will and so many others will never understand what this kind of violence does to a person’s body and their spirit.

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