Monday, June 16, 2014

George Will's False Rape Column

An OB/GYN physician responds to George Will on his statements about "false rape."

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.

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 That good young men will go to jail for consent withdrawn after the fact.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 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?”

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.


COTWA said...

My blog, Community of the Wrongly Accused, is among the few in America dedicated solely to giving voice to the wrongly accused. We have a strict policy of never maligning survivors of sexual violence. There is no room for hurtful comments at our blog. The wrongly accused and survivors of sexual violence are allied in their victimization, and they typically support one another.

Every civilized society must strive to eradicate heinous criminality by punishing offenders, but it also must insure that the innocent aren't punished with them. Unfortunately, the latter concern typically is absent from the public discourse, and we hope that advocates for survivors of sexual violence do not trivialize the problems to the innocent engendered by hostility to due process. Even NCHERM president Brett Sokolow, the leading authority on campus violence in America (and a feminist), says that there are serious problems for presumptively innocent men in the way many schools adjudicate these cases. You can read some of his warnings at NCHERM's website.

My blog advocates for wrongly accused women with the same zeal it advocates for men. I come here in a spirit of fellowship, and to acknowledge the unacceptable scars of sexual violence.

Ballard Burgher said...

Thanks for commenting. I hope we can all agree that the right of the accused to due process is a cornerstone of our legal system. That right must be protected regardless of how unpopular an alleged offense may be. Absent that right we become autocrats in a mob rule state.

That said, I thought Will took his argument several steps too far, as he often seems to. Dr. Gunter's reply was balanced (in acknowledging false accusations do happen) but on point in my opinion. As a mental health professional it has been my experience that unreported sexual assaults far outnumber false accusations.