No More Distractions

The Georgetown University College Republicans hosted Christina Hoff Sommers, an author and philosophy professor known for her criticism of contemporary feminism and her disavowal of a so-called “rape myth,” last week.

By giving Sommers a platform, GUCR has knowingly endorsed a harmful conversation on the serious topic of sexual assault.

Giving voice to someone who argues that statistics on sexual assault exaggerate the problem and condemns reputable studies for engaging in “statistical hijinks” serves only to trigger obstructive dialogue and impede the progress of the university’s commitment to providing increased resources to survivors.

It is necessary and valuable to promote the free expression of a plurality of views, but this back-and-forth about whether or not certain statistics are valid is not the conversation that students should be having. Students should engage in a dialogue that focuses on establishing a safe space for survivors while at the same time tackling the root causes of sexual assault.

Inevitably, the discussion initiated by Sommers distracts from a focus on solutions. At its worst, such discourse encourages rape denialism.

This ploy to divert attention and resources from solutions and survivors has no place anywhere — especially not at Georgetown, where students are fortunate enough to participate in a community that emphasizes care for the whole person. Denying the lived experiences of survivors stands in sharp contradiction to this value.

Conversations that focus on whether or not the problem is “overstated,” rather than on how the problem can be solved, are an insult to Georgetown’s survivors and a recipe for inaction.

Rape culture is a system that thrives on silence. Students cannot allow Georgetown’s sexual assault discourse to be subdued by those who would downplay the problem at hand.

Instead, implement consent education, promote bystander intervention, criticize casual sexism, encourage reporting and agitate for prosecution —protect students and change the campus climate for the better.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

79 Comments

  1. What a pointless article from a group of people that are trying very hard to take the crown from The Voice’s editorial board as the most useless and reactionary group on campus.

    If anyone on the board had actually bothered to listen to Sommers or read any of her works instead of listening to the braying and chants of the numerous always offended crowd at this university, they would have seen no one was engaging in rape denialism and that centering solutions to sexual assault in a foundation of truth is far better than propagating clear falsehoods that encourage useless “solutions”

  2. When it comes to making decisions, smart people know they need to be evidenced-based. That means looking at the data and using reason to determine where the limited resources an organization has should be funneled so that it is used in the most optimal way.

    What this editorial shows is that the writer in particular, and the editorial board in general, have not learned anything important at Georgetown and are poorly suited for any position above coffee shop barista (though writing for Jezebel, Buzzfeed, Gawker, or one of the other online liberal click-bait rags might be an option).

    Despite what the writer thinks, discussions don’t distract from solutions. Rather, they clarify them and make sure they are the right ones. What the Hoya is actually advocating is not discussing controversial issues and just blindly accepting the liberal, (in this case, liberal feminist), position and spending money, time, and energy on doing what it is they want, the facts be damned.

    What sad is they think they’re helping. Like those who cry wolf on race issues, crying wolf on rape causes people to take actual rape less seriously because they’ve been lied to in the past.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: rape culture doesn’t exist. The only people who seriously endorse, support, or excuse rape are either the mentally ill, morally disgusting, or actual rapists, and they are a tiny, tiny minority in this country. One just has to look at all the discussion against rape, all the money spent trying to stop it, and all the resources available for those who claim to be victims, not to mention the often reflexive condemnation of the accused. And even when allegations turn out to be hoaxes, the real criminals who slandered and libeled innocent are protected by the media and their own institutions (neither the media or UVA reported the name of the girl behind the Rolling Stone article).

    My guess is a lot of Hoya staff and students are embarrassed by what was published in the paper today.

  3. Yo, the talk was about feminism, not sexual assault. Pretty poor journalism.

  4. I simply wonder whether or not the author of this piece actually attended the event in question? Dr. Sommers focused her talk on a new brand of feminism, one that she believes will be even more empowering to women than the rhetoric that is in place now. She offered several solutions as to how we as a community can support our men and women so that we create a collectively educated, empowered humanity.

    It saddens me to see my fellow Hoyas so opposed to hearing a conflicting viewpoint that they dismiss its validity before considering its value.

  5. another student says:

    I’m not going to say much because all of these comments are pretty spot on. What the author(s) basically stated above is that they are dedicated to the existence of rape culture and refuse to hear any evidence that contradicts it. I honestly agree with The Dude, rape culture does not exist for the reasons he listed. However, it’s not use arguing because my denial will simply be used as additional ‘evidence’ for its purported existence.

    • “However, it’s not use arguing because my denial will simply be used as additional ‘evidence’ for its purported existence.”

      It’s a classic Kafkatrap.

  6. “By giving Sommers a platform, GUCR has knowingly endorsed a harmful conversation on the serious topic of sexual assault”

    Too bad the title of the lecture was, “What’s Right (and Badly Wrong) with Feminism?”

  7. So, “rape culture is a system that thrives on silence”, but we should not be “giving voice to someone who argues that statistics on sexual assault exaggerate the problem ” You can’t have it both ways.

    • Yes this comment touches perfectly on the main grievance of this article. It is unfortunate that the those with radical opinions only wish to open dialogue with those that agree with them. There is in fact nothing more cowardly than to wish for your enemy to be silenced.

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  9. Wow! To paraphrase the fourth and fifth paragraphs: “Don’t consider those facts that undermine the premise of your view; just carry on to your foregone conclusion.” This is the kind of elite undergraduate education that parents spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for? Incredible!

  10. “… whether or not certain statistics are valid is not the conversation that students should be having.” So, students shouldn’t take the time and make sure information they are coming across is factual? Wow.

    It is very possible to have a discussion on sexual assault, the reasons why statistics are inaccurate and cause more harm than good, and be sensitive/supportive to survivors at the same time. You can’t address the causes of sexual assault on misinformation.

    I get the impression that those who oppose Sommers outright aren’t concerned about a safe-space for survivors. Those who oppose Sommers seems to be wanting to have a “safe-space” for their ideals. They don’t want to question what they’ve been told and they don’t want to do the actual research to stay informed.

  11. I mostly have come here to laugh at you.

    “Giving voice to someone who argues that statistics on sexual assault exaggerate the problem” isn’t productive… really? Even if those statistics *are* exaggerated? Oh yes, a dissenting viewpoint is completely counterproductive. What we need are MORE libelous and exaggerated articles a-la Rolling Stone to *really* address the problem. This is such an unfortunate attitude. Battling ghosts while actual methods of preventing rape go ignored for years in the interest of click-bait nonsense perpetuates the problem. Getting the word out there should not trump making sure “the word” isn’t made up of lies and mis-information.

    An argument barely needs to be made here. This is ridiculous on it’s face.

  12. someone is failing or failed journalism, right along with the editor! this article looks just like some Nazi propaganda.

  13. Did “The Editorial Board” really write this?
    The Editorial Board needs a good editor. Maybe some lessons in how to write well.
    Less gender studies theorism and academic stylings.

    If you believed any of this, you would probably be able to write it so a high school student could follow it, understand it, believe it too.

  14. Here’s your sign.

  15. optiongeek says:

    This article is the very archetype of banality that passes for literacy in today’s college curriculum. Congrats.

  16. All involved in this nonsense editorial have had their names added to those never to hire at any professional organization.

    School that turns out this type of graduate should also be suspect

  17. “Students should engage in a dialogue that focuses on establishing a safe space for survivors while at the same time tackling the root causes of sexual assault.”

    It might be helpful towards making Georgetown students safe from the unbearable anguish of hearing thoughts that the editors disagree with if the they provided a extensive lists of approved and verboten thoughts.

    My heart goes out to anybody who was injured by Hoff’s talk. I’m going to donate a case of pacifiers and two dozen Teddy bears to help stock the Safe Spaces.

  18. Durkin Teasdale says:

    “Giving voice to someone who argues that statistics on sexual assault exaggerate the problem and condemns reputable studies for engaging in “statistical hijinks” … ”

    But what if she is correct? If, as is clearly the case here, a widely repeated statistic about college rape is grossly exaggerated, are you saying that those with access to the correct data should shut up about it?

    That’s not a harmful debate, it is the very opposite of a harmful debate. Campus feminists should be overjoyed to learn that rape is not as prevalent as a poorly-designed study misled everyone into believing. Evidence and facts should always be welcome. The truth is never “triggering” or “unsafe.” The lies of activists seeking remedies that are out of proportion to the problem — that’s what’s dangerous, and that’s what a journalistic institution should be fighting to correct.

    This is a shameful essay.

  19. Whelp, America is clearly done here.

  20. Joe Taylor says:

    It would appear the editorial board does not consist of any fraternity members who have faced the blanket accusation of being a potential rapist, nor do they care about the career, social and psychological ramifications of such accusations.

  21. This is utterly horrifying. No exaggeration to see that this is the beginning of fascism.

  22. Your editorial on the Sommers talk is an embarrasment. Such events are meant open minds which you seem to oppose. Glad I went to GU before all the pussy footing.

    • Careful Tom, you’re subjecting yourself to possible Thought Crimes Prosecution at the hands of the Outrage Generation you begat by using the term “pussy footing”.

  23. We just laughed so hard. Ill never send my child to this loony bin. All of you should demand a tuition refund

  24. H. Schmitt says:

    “endorsed a harmful conversation”

    This is probably the saddest thing I’ve read this year. There are no harmful conversations in academia and free speech is not limited to voices that agree with you.

    Does the quality of statistics even matter to you? Don’t you want to know if your views are based on reality?

    This “the ends justify the means” mentality casts a very poor light on the entire mainstream feminist movement.

  25. Does it bother you that you sound like blossoming fascists? Are you even aware that’s how you sound?

  26. Are you actually student journalists? Or have you been studying philosophy or sociology for four years and just suddenly realized you will be unemployable when you graduate, so you should maybe do something to help you get a job? I’m absolutely horrified that journalism education has reached such depths in such a short time. Journalists should be suggesting more speech, not less. Sunshine, not “safe spaces.”

    Pointing out that a problem is overstated HELPS to get to the right solution. It’s the citations of woefully inaccurate statistics that get us “solutions” like the kangaroo courts that are currently harming both victims and those who are falsely accused.

  27. Natalie Boyd says:

    Serious translation – Our editorial mind is made up. We LIKE the rape myth. It is counterproductive for anyone to bring up any uncomfortable facts to which we might have to apply analytical thought, persuasive skills, or empathy for the victims who have been proven to be falsely accused.

  28. Emma Sulkowicz says:

    Thank you for being brave enough to defy the patriarchy and publish this wonderful, logical, truthful article!

  29. “‘Shut up,’ he explained.”

    That’s your argument, and it’s pathetic.

    As a Gtown alumnus (MSB, ’09) I’m embarrassed to be associated with the same institution that produced this mushy drivel.

    When you grow up (if?) you’ll realize that shutting down the opinions of others doesn’t do your own any good.

    ‘When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.’

  30. The only “rape culture” that exists is feminism.

  31. The article is a parody. It’s funny, you were meant to laugh ;)

    • That was my first thought as well. The author does go into boring detail on easily refutable statistics, though, leading me to think she may actually be serious.

      If it’s really serious I worry about their programs. Certainly I will think less of their degrees when I’m looking at candidates.

  32. This is perhaps the most astoundingly anti-intellectual statement I have ever read. I cannot believe that it was joined by the entire Editorial Board. I have no doubt that this travesty of journalism is what inspired yesterday’s (nearly indistinguishable) Onion article http://www.theonion.com/articles/college-encourages-lively-exchange-of-idea,38496/.

    Protecting potential victims of sexual assault requires understanding the problem, and careful statistics are indispensable tools for doing so. They can shed light on root causes and inform where and how the university should direct its resources.

    And if you think the existing studies on campus sexual assault are so accurate that they are beyond rebuke, then you obviously have not read them critically. For example, the oft-cited CDC survey finding that 1 in 5 women reported being sexually assaulted while in college also found that men reported being raped at virtually the same rate as women did. (The study described these men as having been “forced to penetrate,” but what exactly would you call that if not rape?) If these studies are as reputable as you claim, then the university ought to be diverting nearly half its sexual assault prevention resources to address the purported scourge of sexual assault committed by women against men.

    Does the notion that colleges are overrun with hoards of female rapists strike you as implausible? If so, then maybe you ought to take a second look at the CDC study and its methodology.

  33. It’s really sad that the stupidity of the editorial board is going to reflect poorly on all G’town grads.

  34. Let’s not bicker and argue about the rates of sexual assault on campus; haggling over a number interferes with our crisis-fueled evisceration of due process for male college students – hopefully the straight white kind.

  35. Black Trident says:

    It amazes me that the comments section contains more sense and intelligence than the article itself. A stark contrast of how these things normally go.

  36. Was this meant as parody? Because it does a pretty good job showing how void of content modern feminist argument is. Sad really. But only if it is serious. And I have a hard time believing it is. I have to think the author’s tongue is firmly in her cheek.

  37. Clearly, empirical evidence is not conducive to critical thinking. College is about listening and believing, not about weighing evidence and coming to conclusions yourself.

  38. hahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  39. It amazes me that with the apparent hotbed of rape and assault that are most college campuses that anyone even goes or that they are still standing.

  40. 1. Spread false information about the number of sexual assaults

    2. Receive rebuttals telling you why your information is false

    2. “This isn’t about that information, jeez”

  41. Ad Nausica says:

    If the statistics of campus rape are not important and are a distraction, then you should have no problem telling everybody to stop claiming the “1 in 5″ stat. The reality is that this erroneous statistic is used as the very basis for claiming the danger that women on campus face, the OCT Title IX actions, the creating of kangaroo courts on campus, and even the President making this issue a priority. It is entirely disingenuous to fits use the “1 in 5″ claim to raise fear and interest and, when exposed as a fraud, claim that the true statistic (1 in 53) is irrelevant. The fact is that women on campus are safer than those off campus, and the rate of sexual assault, attempted assault, or threat of assault has been dropping steadily, half what it was even 15 years ago. Women have never been safer on campus.

    Second, you make a claim that Dr. Sommers denies rape and/or experience of rape victims. Please cite even once that she has done this, either in her talk or otherwise. The issue she brings up is not the experience of actual victims, but the erroneous claims as to the *number* of victims and the use of that erroneous number to do a lot of bad things, including creating an unwarranted atmosphere of fear and justification for the mistreatment of people and groups.

    Your article is one large strawman argument, and in complete denial of the actual activities, pressure, and politicization of these issues and resulting policies. The standard fallback is to refer to addressing rape itself, which nobody has denied, everybody agrees on, and Dr. Sommers as repeatedly said deserves addressing and *is* being addressed.

    Being disingenuous and defamatory does nothing for your cause, and anybody viewing Dr. Sommers’ talk and many other talks and books can readily see what she actually says. Please stop being a bad person and act with some integrity instead. If you can’t be honest about these issues then you have no business writing about them.

  42. “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” (Voltaire)

  43. “It is necessary and valuable to promote the free expression of a plurality of views”

    ” but this back-and-forth about whether or not certain statistics are valid is not the conversation that students should be having. ”

    So in other words, it’s only ok to promote “free expression” when said expression is good with the cult. Nice hypocrisy you got going on there.

  44. When trying to deprive people of their constitutionally guaranteed due process rights on the idea that a problem is so big that your only choice to stem the tide is to rely on such illegal practices, statistics DO matter. But as we can see in the last paragraph, making sure you do not falsely accuse someone is purposefully left out.

  45. Gresham's Law says:

    If this essay is an example of what passes for “critical thinking” at Georgetown, then students are owed a tuition refund. You’ve been overcharged.

  46. This editorial is an embarrassment to Georgetown University.

  47. George Orwell says:

    Is this a parody!? If not, this is the worst piece of drivel I have ever read in the Hoya, which I loved as a student at Georgetown, and this editorial board is an embarrassment to a long and distinguished history of scholarship and liberal education on the Hilltop. The doublespeak is ridiculous and as bad as Orwell’s “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.” I weep for for today’s mollycoddled youth and our collective future.

  48. David Someone says:

    G. Orwell identifies this article as “rightthink” or maybe “goodthink”. I get so confused about how to think these days. Maybe just call it “universitythink”.

  49. We can not hope to get to the truth of any matter without a rigorous and skeptical examination of the facts.

    But perhaps that’s my mistake. Perhaps the recent concern over “rape culture” was never about getting to the truth.

  50. You should have posted a trigger warning with this. People with basic critical thinking skills are likely to be profoundly disturbed. Heck, they may even need a safe space after reading this.

  51. This article is an admission — or as close to one as the editors can manage — that the “one in five” statistic does stand up to scrutiny.

    Baby steps, I guess.

  52. “It is necessary and valuable to promote the free expression of a plurality of views, but this back-and-forth about whether or not certain statistics are valid is not the conversation that students should be having.”

    Translation: Free expression of a plurality of views are necessary and valuable, unless it’s something we say students shouldn’t be having a conversation about.

    To give The Editorial Board credit, that must have set some sort of record, bringing up a point and then completely contradicting and undermining it within the same sentence.

  53. This is embarrassing on a lot of levels. I encourage a retraction/clarification.

  54. I thank any gods responsible that I made it through university before the entire system became infested with the lunatics that have taken over the zoo. Yes, yes, of course that includes the faculty.

  55. UV_Los Angeles says:

    “By giving Sommers a platform, GUCR has knowingly endorsed a harmful conversation on the serious topic of sexual assault.”

    God damnit. This is a university. Exposing yourself to different viewpoints and conversations you may not agree with is PART OF LEARNING. Censoring speech of others because you find it umcomfortable is contrary to the entire point of recieving higher education.

    If you don’t like her opinions, then you fight it with free speech of your own. Have a debate. Have the discussions. You don’t get to dictate what kind of speech is allowed on campus under the guide of “protecting others from triggers.”

  56. I commend most of the writers of the excellent comments on this article/editorial.

    I cringe at what passes for thoughtful writing by an editorial board in this modern day university.

  57. But Enough About Me says:

    What’s the opposite of diversity?

    University!

  58. Elliot1234 says:

    How do you folks ever hope to compete with smart high school graduates who are not handicapped by a Georgetown education?

  59. TopShelfPrivilege says:

    This is one of the most profoundly anti-intellectual editorials I have ever read.

  60. This editorial is promoting fascism, the elimination of due process, and the elimination of free speech and the free exchange of ideas. Truly shameful. Unlike the authors, however, I am not suggesting the authors should be forbidden from publishing this drivel, although I am suggesting that the denunciation if this drivel is sorely needed.

  61. The only harmful conversation going on here is the point of view defended in this editorial. The sheer intellectual cowardice of the authors is utterly astounding. The fact that they are blissfully ignorant of their own bigotry and fascism is testimony to the complete bankruptcy of a Georgetown education. However, it should be no surprise. Rather, it fits the larger pattern of leftist hatred and suppression of free speech that is ubiquitous now.

    Here’s a little lesson for you crybabies who need your mommies to hold her hands over your ears, lest you hear something you disagree with that, therefore, might hurt your widdle feewings. Poor babies. So let Uncle Xram enlighten you as the the meaning of free speech and tolerance, since you obviously are totally ignorant of their true meaning. Tolerance and free speech means that you defend to the death the right of others to engage in speech that you personally find insulting, repugnant, and offensive. The only speech that needs protecting is speech that is highly unpopular and offensive to the majority. Freedom of speech means that you protect speech that you find threatening and harmful. Tolerance means living in peace with those with whom you disagree. There is nothing noble about supporting freedom of speech for speech that you agree with and do not find threatening. In fact, attempting to protect yourself, or others, from speech you deem harmful is sheer cowardice. You people are pathetic. Not at all worthy of being taken seriously, except that you are, in fact, the real threat to freedom. And believe me, there are plenty of us around who are not going to sit still and let you impose your worthless fascism on the rest of us.

  62. if these replies were written by Georgetown students then I will acknowledge that a Hoya education is not a total waste. But for the writers of the editorial, not so much

  63. Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  64. As an alumni (class of ’78) I was appalled by what the editorial suggests about the results of a Georgetown education. Then I read the comments and my faith in GU was restored, at least a bit.

  65. Doubting Rich says:

    “It is necessary and valuable to promote the free expression of a plurality of views, but this back-and-forth about whether or not certain statistics are valid is not the conversation that students should be having”

    You are quite right – probably the one occasion in this article. Everyone should accept that the 1-in-5 statistic is utter garbage, and that a slightly smaller proportion of women on campus are raped than general population.

    “Rape culture is a system that thrives on silence”

    No it isn’t. It’s a lie. It doesn’t exist, at least in the USA and liberal democracies. It is made up by radical feminists who have found that now women actually are being given more rights and opportunities than men they have no way of claiming to be victims.

  66. J.C. Thomas says:

    I am so glad I didn´t waste tens of thousands of tuition dollars at this. What a bunch of wilting daisies. I hope you all have rich parents, because you won´t be able to deal with the real world when you get out of the nursery school Georgetown has created for you.

    Grow up.

  67. GU Student says:

    You should think for yourselves instead of letting the campus’s radical fringe sterilizers speak for you

  68. “It is necessary and valuable to promote the free expression of a plurality of views…”

    It’s a good thing the editorial board told us it felt that way. We never would figured that out based on every other sentence in the article–or even the rest of *that* sentence!

    What a disgrace.

  69. A Liberal says:

    It is comforting to see universal condemnation of this piece from the commentators. We need more true liberals on campus and less of these totalitarian pseudo-liberals.

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