Progressives have an essential message for young women: There is absolutely nothing you can do to avoid being sexually assaulted, and anyone who tells you different is evil. Does it sound too absurd to be true? If you’re following Neomi Rao’s confirmation process, it’s not hard to see that this is indeed the case.
President Donald Trump nominated Rao, an attorney who currently serves in the Office of Management and Budget, to replace Judge Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, now that he has been confirmed to the Supreme Court. But Senate Democrats and others on the left are attempting to derail Rao’s confirmation largely because of statements she made decades ago, regarding rape on college campuses.
The Left Blasts Rao
While studying at Yale University, Rao wrote an op-ed discussing date rape in which she pointed out that women could avoid becoming victims of sexual assault by refraining from excessive drinking. “A woman, like a man, decides when and how much to drink,” she wrote. “And if she drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice.” She added, “a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober.”
Senator and 2020 presidential hopeful Kamala Harris (D-CA) brought up Rao’s writing during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, asking the nominee if she believes that a victim of sexual assault is at fault for an attack that occurs while she is intoxicated. Rao explained that she does not blame the victim for the actions of her attacker, but that refraining from excessive alcohol consumption was advice given to her by her mother.
Rao indicated that she has regrets about the way she expressed her message. “Looking back at some of those writings and rereading them, I cringe at some of the language that I used,” she said. Nevertheless, it appears that Rao does not repudiate her intended argument. “I was young, it was over two decades ago now. I like to think I’ve matured as a thinker, a writer and indeed a person.”
Apparently, that wasn’t enough for Harris, who took to Twitter to misrepresent Rao’s opinion on the matter:
“Here’s the bottom line: survivors of sexual assault should not be blamed for the trauma they’ve experienced. Neomi Rao’s prior writings about sexual assault are completely unacceptable and her responses to my questions today were deeply troubling.”
Harris wasn’t the only one to condemn the nominee over the article. Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) tweeted, “Neomi Rao is a nominee with a record of weakening protections for sexual assault survivors and who once argued that women can avoid date rape by staying ‘reasonably sober.’ She is not fit to serve as a judge. #RejectRao”
Vanita Gupta, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, also tweeted her disapproval:
“Neomi Rao’s past is her prologue. Her controversial writings set the stage for the damage she has done as Trump’s administrator of OIRA [Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs] where she’s led the Trump administration’s aggressive regulatory agenda to undermine civil rights and public protections. #RejectRao”
On social media, progressives are promoting the “RejectRao” hashtag to prevent the attorney from being confirmed as a judge. But that’s not all. A group of 70 South Asian women from various fields penned a letter to the leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee urging them to reject Rao’s confirmation. Perhaps they believe that since Rao is of Indian heritage, their letter will carry more weight? This is intersectionality at work, folks.
In the document, the group complains about Rao’s op-ed and her involvement in reforming Title IX guidelines that deal with rape on college campuses. “These writings are not merely inflammatory or controversial,” the women wrote. “This is victim-blaming and rape apologist language, and it has no place in our society, let alone the federal judiciary.”
Why Shouldn’t Women Take Precautions?
The outcry against Rao is puzzling, considering the fact that progressive feminists so regularly claim their goal is to empower women. In this instance – as well as others – they are, in reality, putting forth the notion that women are helpless victims of men, who are mostly deplorable rapists. Any suggestion that women could take steps to decrease the chances of being sexually assaulted is written off as “victim blaming.”
Of course, their arguments are easily debunked with a modicum of common sense and at least half a brain. Are people who recommend installing security systems blaming unsecured homeowners who end up as victims of burglaries? If your friends advise you not to drive through dangerous neighborhoods, will they say it’s your fault if you happen to get robbed? Put simply, no. If we take the left’s argument to its logical conclusion, nobody would offer safety advice to anyone else, for fear of being labeled a victim blamer.
The notion that warning women to take precautions to ensure their own safety amounts to victim blaming is both demonstrably false and dangerous – according to Campus Safety, 43% of sexual assaults involve alcohol consumption. Moreover, it is doubtful that those who are currently attacking Rao for her suggestion would refrain from giving the same advice to their loved ones. If they are as concerned about rape as they claim, why wouldn’t they want women to do everything in their power to prevent such an incident? After all, aren’t they the ones who championed the #MeToo movement?
But for progressives, it’s not about rape. It’s about turning well-intentioned advice into a political attack. Perhaps Rao could have phrased her argument more effectively, but her point is valid, and it is clear she is not attempting to place the onus on women to keep predators from attacking them. In the end, the backlash against Rao demonstrates a willingness to use horrific incidents like rape and sexual assault to score cheap political points.