A recent article from the Washington Post had a suggestion for women to help them avoid sexual assault: just get married. Of course the problem isn’t men assaulting you or a patriarchal society that paints women’s bodies as things for them to possess and use. No, the problem is you, ladies, and your selfish desire to choose how you live your life.
The article, which apparently had it’s title revised to better sync-up with Father’s Day, mentions the recent twitter storm #YesAllWomen.
The hashtag started as an outcry against the misogynistic violence of the UC-Santa Barbara shooter, encouraging women to speak up about their own stories of abuse and push for awareness and change. If you followed the conversation, you may have also noticed a good deal of men desperately defending themselves as if the movement was some sort of attack. #NotAllMen and similar tags quickly popped up, drowning out some of the conversation as many refused to actually listen but instead took egotistical defensive maneuvers.
The WaPo article continues this misguided campaign of ignorance, utterly missing the point:
This social media outpouring makes it clear that some men pose a real threat to the physical and psychic welfare of women and girls. But obscured in the public conversation about the violence against women is the fact that some other men are more likely to protect women, directly and indirectly, from the threat of male violence: married biological fathers.
The piece, by Bradford Wilcox and Robin Wilson, goes on to cite statistical data showing that married women are less likely to report being assaulted, as well as girls that live in married households. However it seems the authors misused the data rather badly, making the amateur mistake of confusing correlation with causation. Shannon Catalano of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, where much of the data was pulled from, said of the WaPo’s conclusion:
The trends may change when other factors are taken into consideration. There are various other factors besides marriage that may account for differential victimization rates.
Perhaps more at issue is the fact that what Wilcox and Wilson are doing is just victim-blaming disguised as research. Instead of addressing the real problem of men who think it’s ok to assault women and the rape culture that supports them, Wilcox and Wilson blame women for not finding one of the good ones to protect them.
The problem of violence against women is not the fault of the female victims anymore than gun violence in schools is the fault of children not being bulletproof enough. The #YesAllWomen movement exists, and is so important, because of the exact sort of ignorance shown by the Washington Post.