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.