By Robert Windon -
As a Republican man, I have spent countless hours defending the GOP against claims that it is waging a war on women. I have argued that those who are pro-life are fighting for innocent lives and not trying to make decisions for women. I have argued that voting against government subsidized birth control is about watching government spending and not controlling what women do with their bodies.
The media has advanced this Democrat talking point by running with catch phrases like binders full of women during Governor Romney’s presidential campaign. But there are times when a GOP official or pundit does or says something that is indefensible. This was the case the first week of June, when conservative columnist George Will wrote in the Washington Post and New York Post about government’s involvement in colleges and sexual assault.
Will could have made some very good points about what happens when Washington gets involved in running public or private college campuses, but he did not. Will could have discussed the deficiency of research about sexual assault on college campuses or how difficult sexual assault is to research, but he did not. Will did question some of the statistics about sexual assault on college campuses. But he simply dismissed them as inflated instead of discussing why they are tough to nail down. He also could have discussed the need for further research, but he did not.
What Will did do was to allege that Washington has made victimhood a coveted status on college campuses, which will make “victims proliferate.” He also took time to belittle certain instances of sexual assault and seemed to question whether sexual assault is possible when there is a current or past sexual relationship between the parties. He further implied that a woman’s claim of sexual assault is less legitimate when it is made six weeks after an attack. And he discusses the “capacious definition of sexual assault” used on college campuses and grumbles that it includes “nonconsensual touching” as if groping a woman against her will is not sexual assault.
Without a doubt some places handle sexual assault allegations poorly. Some do not react quickly enough while some are too quick to convict the accused before all of the evidence comes to light. We need to look no further than the allegations against the Duke lacrosse team in 2006 to know that the latter is true. It is also true that some instances of sexual assault are more serious than others. Which is why all states have different classifications of criminal sexual assault. But this column does not address those issues. It is completely insensitive to victims of sexual assault, any and all kinds of sexual assault.
As a former prosecutor, I have had the opportunity to investigate and prosecute numerous cases and types of sexual assault. I can guarantee that not one of these victims enjoyed their status as a victim and none of them believed it gave them any positive fame or privileges. As a Republican, the fact that Will cloaks this disturbing article in conservative principles and GOP talking points is frustrating.
But more importantly, as a husband, brother and son of three amazing women and as a father of a little girl, this column appalls me. Recently the GOP has done a better job at distancing itself from these types of insensitive statements. The fact that George Will has long been a standard bearer for the GOP and conservative principles should not make him immune to criticism. This column did nothing to advance the discussion he set out to open and only exposes the GOP to more claims that it is waging a war on women.