Petitioning Washington Post

Fire Columnist George Will and Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt


On June 6, the Washington Post published a column by George Will (trigger warning) that was an outrageous defense of rape culture. And then, after editorial page editor Fred Hiatt defended Will, the Post's editorial page published a second survivor-blaming article on June 10. While it should be clear that George Will should be dismissed from his position as a Post columnist (and there's a much larger petition calling for him to be fired), editorial page editor Fred Hiatt has also demonstrated a lack of understanding of why rape can't be justified by one of the country's leading news sources, and he also needs to go.

In his June 6 article (trigger warning), Will mocks the idea of a "supposed campus epidemic of rape," and consistently blames survivors for sexual assault. He mockingly quotes a student's description of a sexual assault. He thinks that for us to categorize anything other than forced penetration as sexual assault is "capacious." And, most offensively, he states that sexual assault statistics are inflated because women lie about sexual assault, which they do because we have made "victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges." George Will is defending the idea that this process should be as difficult as possible, with the result that fewer survivors will report sexual assault and more perpetrators will get away with it.

Then, after editorial page editor Fred Hiatt defended George Will's article, another opinion piece by Brad Wilcox and Robin Wilson on June 10 told women that they protect themselves against violence by getting married, since violence against women is less common in marriages than it is in unmarried relationships (a point that they make by misusing data). The conclusion here is that it's women's responsibility to end male violence by getting married — rather than it being men's responsibility to end male violence by not doing it. And the article's earlier version had a byline that added racism to misogyny: "The data show that #yesallwomen would be safer hitched to their baby daddies."

The Washington Post should not be helping to promote defenses of rape culture and attacks on rape survivors. George Will and Fred Hiatt both need to go.

Letter to
Washington Post
In recent days, the Post has published two editorials in rapid succession — "Colleges become the victims of progressivism" by George Will on June 6, and "One way to end violence against women? Married dads" by Brad Wilcox and Robin Wilson on June 10 — that have both, in different ways, blamed survivors for their own sexual assaults.

The outrage against both of these articles should have made it clear that the views expressed in George Will's column have no place in the Post — and so, it's all the more galling that the Post chose to follow that piece with the June 10 article.

The Washington Post should not be helping to promote defenses of rape culture and attacks on rape survivors. George Will should be dismissed from his position as Post columnist, and Fred Hiatt from his position as editorial page editor.