It has not been a great couple of days for the Washington Post in terms of their contributions to the ongoing culture-wide discussion about violence against women and sexual violence in particular. First came human turtle head (both kinds) George Will’s piece in which he attempted to downplay the statistics about the number of women who are victims of sexual assault—sorry, “sexual assault” as he calls it—and essentially referred to rape victims as attention whores.
You see, having survived a rape makes you cool these days. When “victimhood [is] a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate,” he wrote.
Where do I sign up for some of that rape attention! I want a piece of that good shit.
In other words, the women aren’t only asking for it (rape), they’re also now asking for special status for having asked for it in the first place. And today we have what is already one of the most widely derided and mocked columns online I’ve seen in recent memory, the headline for which was almost instantly changed because it was so amazingly tone deaf.
“One way to end violence against women?” the original read. “Stop taking lovers and get married.”
“The data show that #yesallwomen would be safer hitched to their baby daddies” the subhed originally read. It now reads “with fewer boyfriends around their kids.”
Setting aside the tenuous statistics presented, which almost completely ignore the fact that, as Will glossed over, a lot of domestic abuse isn’t reported, not to mention the dog whistle at work in the “baby daddies” line, the general argument of the piece is so colossally disastrous I can barely even distill it without falling out of my chair.
In short: women who don’t want to get raped should get married, because children from two parents homes are less likely to be abused, and married men are less likely to “resort to” violence. The only thing that stops a bad man who wants to hit a woman is a good man who is legally bound to protect that woman. Or something.
As if that weren’t enough, the authors go on to blame women for making the bad choices in partnering with men more likely to harm them:
For women, part of the story is about what social scientists call a “selection effect,” namely, women in healthy, safe relationships are more likely to select into marriage, and women in unhealthy, unsafe relationships often lack the power to demand marriage or the desire to marry. Of course, women in high conflict marriages are more likely to select into divorce.
That’s nice for the women in stable situations, but what about the many, many others who don’t have as much of a choice, particularly from the lower end of the economic scale? And what about the women who stay in abusive relationships specifically because they fear further retributive abuse? Or the ones who didn’t get married in the first place because of it?
W. Bradford Wilcox, who wrote the piece along with Robert Fretwell Wilson (amazing name for a concern troll with a really bad take), happens to be the director of the The National Marriage Project, which the piece does not mention.