Bow tie enthusiast George Will's latest Sunday column made the Washington Post's click rate explode when he wrote that women who accuse men of rape, "...make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate." He sounds eerily similar to my Amex Rewards promotional emails that try to get me to upgrade my card.
Looking at Will's personal background, it's easy to see why he takes more outrage and offense at the accusation of sexual assault than the perpetrators themselves. Born in 1941, Will lived in a time where white men could do whatever they wanted free from most obstacles — get a proper education (including college and graduate school); aspire to politics, law, medicine; rape; abuse; bribe; make lots of money; drink and drive; harass; and intimidate. The son of an academic, Will went to Trinity College and Princeton in the 1960s when women were banned from attending both of those institutions. (No wonder he's genuinely shocked that campus sexual assault is a problem.) After that, he worked his way through the DC political journalism scene, writing a couple of books and even earning a Pulitzer Prize along the way.
For the last 40 years, whenever Will has opened his mouth, he has a willing television or print audience to listen. He's truly the epitome of white, male privilege.
Will's cushy background, privilege, and questionable success aren't at issue here. It's his views calcified around the LBJ administration yet he's still producing the same keyboard vomit 50+ years later. He doesn't understand feminist issues, such as campus sexual assault, because he does't want to. It doesn't fit the world he grew up in, and it certainly doesn't fit into the world he wants to see now — a one where he and other powerful white men are in control.
No wonder Will is reluctant to let go of the past and live in the very different present. If he were born 30 or 40 years later, he would be competing with a much, much larger pool of individuals — women, minorities, and the poor. I wonder if a lot of his personal disgust against women is because he might not be able to compete in today's world. The only reason he's still around is because he was already in power before the playing field started evening out. (Kind of like trying to get out a 20 year old red wine stain before OxiClean was invented.) His latest Sunday column is certainly evidence of that.
There is no solution to the Will problem. Old white men aren't exactly known for being progressive, especially when people who don't look like them also begin slowly access wealth and power. We don't need a solution anyway. If anything, outdated, misogynist views like this only serve women to cite this moron as a shining example of everything that's wrong with the status quo. I hope that women, when they read columns like this, continue to self-advocate and speak out on issues such as equal pay or sexual assault even more.
As long as assholes like this have a large megaphone, we have to.