College, Rape, and Guns
This past Tuesday, during a Fox News Panel discussion about gun laws on college campuses, co-host Bob Beckel gave a shocking reminder that it is not only right-wingers who are out of touch with the prevalence of sexual assault in American society.
When the discussion turned to the possibility of a woman defending herself in the case of rape, Beckel made a comment that made jaws drop all around the table: “When’s the last time you heard about rape on a college campus?”
First, a fact check: according to the Department of Justice, about 25 percent of college women “will be the victims of rape or attempted rape” before graduation from a four-year institution.
Now, Beckel’s comment is so extraordinarily ignorant that I am going to just back away from it for now and let my contemporaries out there in cyberspace take care of him. I want to take a moment to address a comment made by Fox News contributor, Kimberly Guilfoyle, immediately after Beckel’s remark.
The conversation rapidly turned to the specific topic of date rape. “Yes, date rape, that’s one problem,” Beckel said, “but you gonna take a gun out and shoot your date?”
Guilfoyle snapped, “If your date is a rapist, you shoot them.”
I was happy to see the female contributors get angry at Beckel, and equally happy to see the other male in the discussion, Eric Bolling, also outraged. But Guilfoyle’s comment also displays a misunderstanding and oversimplification of rape, especially in a college campus setting. Furthermore, her curt reply of “you shoot them,” is a shameless attempt at justifying the pro-gun political agenda.
First off, “date rape” is commonly drug-facilitated, most typically by alcohol or other CNS depressants. In this case, the expectation that a victim could properly operate a gun is outrageous.
More importantly, however, is that date rape is often committed by a friend or acquaintance. On a college campus, survivors of rape and assault are often forced to see their attacker’s friends repeatedly after the instance of assault. There is often backlash, and as is the case in society at large, there is a powerful victim blaming complex. Society is perfectly happy to blame a woman for her assault if she is wearing a short skirt. Put a gun into her hands at the scene, and suddenly the doubt of her innocence is even greater. Guns are not a solution to the plight of would-be, could-be, or have-been rape victims.
Guilfoyle’s seemingly heroic pro-women’s rights comment was nothing more than a thinly veiled pro-gun comment. But, if the conversation had not been abruptly ended, perhaps the logical end of her argument would have shined through: if the would-be victim is armed, it is just as likely that the assaulter is as well.
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