There are lots of visions of hell in the world. Some imagine an everlasting fire. Some horrific torture. Some revisiting their own worst memories, fears, and anxieties.
Me? I just imagine George Will whispering the word “panties” into my ear over and over again.
Washington Post readers were treated to that very hell recently when Will used the word in the graphic depiction of a sexual assault. Worst of all, Will’s description was his attempt to dismiss the woman’s story. He used the fact that she didn’t physically resist (after saying she didn’t want sex) and delayed reporting the assault as evidence that she was never raped.
It’s common for women who are assaulted not to resist. It’s common for them to delay reporting, or even not report at all, as they know reporting their assault is likely to lead to questions about their own behavior and habits, and judgment and shame from small-minded men like George Will.
But Will uses this one story, a story he tells but does not understand at all, to declare that there is no problem of sexual assault at college campuses, an epidemic that he generously calls “supposed.”
He also claims that assault victims have been conferred special status and “privilege,” as though rape is a gift that women should welcome. It isn’t quite clear what benefits Will is talking about. Perhaps he’s referring to having every detail of the most traumatic experience of your life constantly questioned by people like George Will.
What a horrible impulse for George Will to have. He’s a wealthy white American man — literally the most privileged human being this world has ever known — and he has a powerful voice that few others have. And he uses it to attack a woman for reporting her sexual assault, and indeed all women who live through that trauma only to deal with shame and disbelief. Will’s column and thousands upon thousands of similar sentiments expressed every day hurt women and help rapists rationalize their crimes.
Will should be deeply ashamed of what he wrote. The Washington Post’s opinion editors should be deeply ashamed of publishing it. And Will should have his column taken from him for grossly abusing his position of power.