OPINION: The politicization of sexual assault

Sexual assault is indefinite.

Rape doesn’t end the second the monster walks away. Left in its wake is unparalleled doubt, relentless self-blame, and immense challenges. The nightmare is inescapable.

For the past year, a series of stories about sexual assault—specifically campus sexual assault—have reverberated throughout the media. And these stories, ranging from a college senior carrying her mattress around New York City to a tale of a horrific gang rape in the heart of Virginia have also been indefinite.

Emma Sulkowicz can’t be credited as the first person to capture the media’s ravenous appetite when it comes to sexual assault, but oh did she charm and arouse the world with her senior thesis art project. As Sulkowicz publicly berated her school—Columbia University—and her alleged rapist, she refused to press charges against the man she says violently raped her as it would be “too draining.”

Instead, she protectively lugged around a dorm room mattress for the entirety of her senior year and starred in a hardcore porn video depicting her alleged rape.

From the beginning, feminists have viciously attacked the issue of campus sexual assault—and rightly so. But in their eagerness to eradicate it, liberals have only uplifted and romanticized a heinous crime.

In the middle of November, shocks reverberated across the University of Virginia’s campus as Rolling Stone released a report that described a horrific and grotesque gang rape of a college freshman.

The story of “Jackie,” whoever she may be, was spread throughout the country like wildfire. Unfortunately for Rolling Stone and writer Sabrina Rubin Erdley, the story was nothing more than fiction and dubbed a “journalistic failure.”

Erdley’s “journalist failure” did more than just fail the publication and her readers; it failed rape victims—past, present, and future.

By charging full steam ahead on a story that had no evidence, Erdley cemented a new stigma around campus sexual assault. No, she cannot be accused of victim-blaming or forgoing the all-supreme religion that is radical feminism, but she can be fully blamed for making it even more difficult for men and women to come forward with their own stories without unprecedented scrutiny and disbelief—especially from those across the aisle—whether individuals choose to report to the police, to the media, or to a friend.

The left’s fixation on campus sexual assault has only proven that the real sexism prevalent in today’s society is actually carried out by liberals as, to them, women are too weak to defend themselves, too triggered to listen to a conservative feminist speak on a college campus, and too powerless to make advancements to end a problem all on their own.

As demonstrated so clearly by the criticism Reason’s Robby Soave received merely for questioning an unbelievable report, the left’s crusade isn’t centralized around an attempt to eradicate rape, but to silence those who could propose ways to combat it. Leftists label it “victim-blaming,” “sexist,” or, even worse, “perpetuating rape culture.”

When a group of college men designed special nail polish that could detect date rape drugs slipped into drinks, feminists demonized the students instead of praising their innovation. For liberals, the idea that women could take self-defense classes is misguided as it somehow places the “responsibility” on women.

For the left, the idea of placing adjudication of rapes back into the criminal justice system instead of hiding sexual assaults within campus kangaroo courts is more harmful to women than terrifying future female college students into falsely believing that a they have a 20 percent chance of being violently assaulted while in school.

One of the greatest mantras anti-sexual assault advocates proclaim is that we “need to believe women more.” And they’re right. When someone comes forward to report such a horrific violation of her own body, our first instinct shouldn’t be skepticism. But the more the left force-feeds the public false stories and statistics, the more doubt will surround victims, both real and imagined.

Unfortunately, while Sulkowicz’s story has an abundance of red flags, her story is still murky and full of unknowns. Maybe the right would be more apt to believe her if the left didn’t perpetuate false statistics and promote false stories.

The image of Sulkowicz graduating last month, her mattress and a few friends in tow, went viral on social media. For Sulkowicz, her project is completed, her undergraduate career is finished. But much like sexual assault—the very despicable act she is apparently protesting—the left’s misrepresentation of campus sexual assault isn’t over.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn