For once I agree with Matt Walsh. Like him, I am heartbroken for the family in Florida whose child was pulled away from them by an alligator; and I know it just as easily could have happened to us. Any of us. His post about this family came up in my news feed today because a few of my friends liked it on Facebook. And I whole-heartedly agree with his words and outrage for those who would blame the parents for a mistake not unlike the ones most of us make on a regular basis. Aren’t they suffering enough?
Maybe Matt Walsh isn’t the victim-blamer I thought he was.
And you know what? I don’t think he means to be. But I wish he could translate that compassion which he clearly possesses on to women and victims of rape. I wish he could understand how his well-intentioned advice causes damage.
If you don’t know what I am talking about, start with a post he wrote back in December. Then last week, in response to the Stanford Rape, he took to Twitter once again claiming rape culture does not exist and that women participating in “hook up” culture is the real problem. I actually get what he is saying. I just don’t think he is able to see his mistake in choosing this road of conversation.
In a surprising burst of empathy, he seems to now understand how reacting to someone’s pain with criticism and accusations could be hurtful. Here is what he wrote on his Facebook wall today about those parents in Florida:
It’s funny, but you can replace “parents” with almost anything and it is still good advice. For example:
This is not the kind of thing I usually post about, but I felt compelled to write it because I was really moved and distressed by the story of the Stanford Rape victim. I couldn’t stop thinking about it today, for some reason. And then when I saw social media– particularly Twitter– once again flooded with people offering their criticisms and “helpful” suggestions to women who have been raped, I couldn’t help but give a response.
I’ve always felt that we are too harsh and unforgiving with women who are raped in this country. And it makes it worse that usually the harshest and most unforgiving people are men. They have no clue what they’re talking about. I don’t care if it sounds snobby or whatever– it’s the truth. If you are not a woman, you should, as a general rule, keep your “how to avoid rape as a woman” tips to yourself. You have no idea. And you should have the humility to admit that and shut up.
But men or otherwise, it is very troubling that some people have an instinct to immediately and publicly blast women when they are raped. Never mind the fact, that in this case, the woman truly did nothing wrong at all. But even if she did make some kind of mistake, why is it that our society rushes so quickly and even gleefully to condemn the very person who is already suffering the most because of it? It’s depraved, I think. It’s like some of us have lost all humanity. All capacity for compassion and mercy.
I’m sure Matt would laugh and say one has nothing to do with the other. But compassion is compassion. And sometimes we must hold our tongues and show mercy.
Women know they need to be careful on a level Matt Walsh will never understand. It has been drilled into us from a young age, and in case we forget– there will always be a reminder waiting around the next corner. And still, sometimes we are capable of feeling a sense of security. Sometimes we are human and don’t make all the safest decisions. Our failings in this department are inevitable, but they are not a crime.
If a woman is raped, and there is some choice she could have made differently which might have prevented it, I assure you– she already knows. She doesn’t need anyone to point it out. Matt Walsh cannot possibly grasp the gravity of what it feels like to know another choice could have saved him the grief of being raped. He also cannot grasp the ways in which a woman who is raped will see her “mistakes” as meaning the rape was her fault.
She knows the world will point its finger at her, too. Thanks for your help with that, Matt. But you know what? She already heard your words in her head before you even said them.
He has plenty of advice for all the women who have been raped after drinking (which he actually thinks is how almost all campus rapes happen). And he brings up some excellent points for us to consider. Women shouldn’t drink until they blackout? We had no idea that might be a problem, Captain Obvious. It really is a stupid thing to do, isn’t it? Now imagine having to admit you did that, and then ended up being raped. You might feel incredibly ashamed about being so stupid. You might not tell anyone at all, huh?
(Maybe that’s why your rapist chose you.)
Matt Walsh can sit from his extremely limited point of view and assume women understand that ultimately rape is always the rapist’s fault; but he would be wrong about that assumption. His post about rape culture and what really happens on campus prove he simply has no idea what’s going on. And how could he know?
His “empathetic” response to someone’s rape was to declare “hook-up culture” as the official problem to be solved— a response which accomplishes little more than kicking victims while they are down. Victims need to pull their minds away from the distraction of self-blame. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. When people accuse Matt Walsh of victim-blaming, it is because the only conversation he shows up with is about what mistakes women should stop making. If there is compassion and mercy, I do not see it.
Victims need people who won’t lecture, but who will reinforce the truth that rapists are abusive personalities who possess an unnatural need for control. Abusers get away with their behavior specifically because they are able to convince their victims that they have brought it upon themselves.
Which means you, Matt Walsh, are on the wrong side of this conversation.
But somewhere in your heart, beyond that thick force field of ego and political passion— I like to think a part of you must still possess the ability to see that you might be hurting more than you are helping. Consider a new conversation, Matt. And remember, every day is a new day to find your humanity.