Tammy Bruce: Washington Post turns to victim shaming in Virginia high school rape case

High school students stage walkout in response to sexual assault in Loudoun County

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In an absolutely vile turn of events, if you were to read the Washington Post’ coverage of a Virginia high school girl’s rape, you would think you had been dragged by your hair back to the 1950s.  

On October 25, the news outlet published an article with this headline:  “In case at center of political firestorm, judge finds teen committed sexual assault in Virginia school bathroom.” 

In a Washington Post report about a judge who ruled that a teenage boy sexually assaulted a teenage girl in a bathroom in a Loudoun County, Virginia high school, author Justin Jouvenal, who describes himself as a “Justice Reporter” on Twitter, decided that including the victim’s sexual history as “new details” in his report was somehow appropriate. Providing the reader with elements of the victim’s sexual history is meant to imply she can’t be trusted, she wanted it, she’s a tramp who provoked it. It wasn’t rape—it was a bad bathroom date!  

For over 50 years now, we have worked to make sure society understood the fact that no woman wants to be raped or ‘asks for it.’ We are not responsible or at fault because a violent freak decides we are to be used like a piece of meat and attacks. 

Rape has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with humiliation and control. And yet, the Washington Post decides to re-animate the misogyny of smearing a rape victim with exactly the implication that the girl may have been the problem.  

 Jouvenal’s piece had to be seen and approved by at least one other person in that newsroom. Did multiple people at the Washington Post approve the smearing of the victim because of Democratic political concerns?  

And this in a story about the judge having found the attacker the equivalent of ‘guilty’ in juvenile court. We also know that young man had transferred to the victim’s school as other sexual assault charges against him are pending at his previous high school.  

Lending credence to the sexual assault history of the victim being the point of Jouvenal’s ‘report’ is revealed in his promotion of the story with a dramatic tweet announcing “new details” in this “firestorm” of a case. He wrote, “A teen testified she met a classmate for consensual sex in the girls’ bathroom of a Loudoun County high school before, but in a May encounter she was sexually assaulted. New details in the case at the center of a firestorm.”

And why would this story cause, in the words of the headline, a “firestorm?” The perpetrator had access to the girl’s bathroom where he assaulted the victim because he self-identifies as a “gender-fluid.” Suddenly, the issue is a problem for the left with discussions and debate in the community having the potential of undermining ‘woke’ policies being implemented in schools around the country.  

This repulsive Washington Post/Jouvenal “blame the victim” spin did not go unnoticed in the New Media realm. The article has received extraordinary backlash on social media and elsewhere. Critics were clear that the only reason to include a sexual history of any woman or girl while discussing an assault is to cast doubt on their credibility, resurrecting the monster of victim-shaming.  

What’s also of concern is that Jouvenal’s piece had to be seen and approved by at least one other person in that newsroom. Did multiple people at the Washington Post approve the smearing of the victim because of Democratic political concerns?  

Americans have spent over a half a century working to educate society and the justice system about how no woman deserves to be raped, asks to be raped, or wants to be raped. We know this, Jouvenal knows this, and so do the editors at the Washington Post. We then must conclude that they didn’t care about the implications because something more important to them than a teenaged victim of rape was at stake.  

They needed a distraction, but they also needed to issue a warning that there would be a price to pay if one dares to challenge the Democratic leftist agenda in schools. As so many Harvey Weinstein victims were advised, shut up and take it! For the cause!

The political fallout in the Virginia governor‘s race has done real damage to the Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, who had previously been governor and is running again. McAuliffe caused alarm when asked about growing outrage at woke policies in schools and the teaching of critical race theory. He noted “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” To say that didn’t go over very well would be an understatement. 

Moreover, at a rally for the McAuliffe campaign and as this Louden County high school rape was making national news, former president Barack Obama dismissed parents’ concerns about that situation and other school controversies saying, “We don’t have time to be wasting on these phony, trumped-up culture wars…” 

Democrats are happy with themselves for figuring out how to use Trump in little puns while American parents are getting arrested for demanding accountability about rape in schools. That’s not exactly a strategy that’s going to win people over.  

The Washington Post’s decision to target a rape victim illustrates, in part, why American trust in media is near an all-time low. 

Gallup reported earlier this month: “Americans’ trust in the media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly has edged down four percentage points since last year to 36%, making this year’s reading the second lowest in Gallup’s trend. 

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