The NRA Is Trying To Reach Out To Women, But This Is How It Talks About Campus Sexual Assault
Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON
Amidst the National Rifle Association's ongoing outreach effort recruiting women, the gun group's radio show ran a segment that dismissed "so many" campus sexual assault cases as "two people being drunk at a party hooking up and then somebody, usually the girl, regretting it the next morning."
Since the re-launch of the NRA Women's Network in 2013, the NRA has greatly increased its outreach to women, a demographic that is far less likely to own guns than men and more likely to support firearm regulations the NRA opposes. Women are also disproportionately targeted by men with gun violence, often in the domestic violence context.
The September 5 edition of the NRA's radio show, Cam & Company, featured a discussion of campus sexual assault that misled on campus sexual assault statistics and suggested women bore some responsibility for being assaulted if they were drinking.
NRA News host Cam Edwards hosted the Washington Examiner's Ashe Schow to discuss a National Public Radio story about men accused of sexual assault on campus who say they did not receive adequate due process during disciplinary proceedings.
Citing the issue of campus sexual assaults and the existence of "campus speech codes," Edwards said, "it seems like these universities are -- I don't want to say encouraging victimhood but" are encouraging students "to see their fellow students, their faculty as people to fear":
EDWARDS: The more you look at the codes by which universities are run these days, I mean you run across some really weird stuff even beyond this issue [campus sexual assault], you know the campus speech codes. There is a story going around today about Wake Forest has a new campus-wide discrimination initiative. It's known as the Bias Incident Report system, it's an online form that anybody can fill out to anonymously file reports on any occurrences that they deem to be biased or hateful. Citizenship, an incident that can be perceived as biased based on citizenship, gender identity, national origin, pregnancy, religion, sexual orientation, economic background, you can even upload a video, photo, or audio. You know, Ashe, it seems like these universities are -- I don't want to say encouraging victimhood but --
SCHOW: Encouraging people to just rat on each other. That's what it sounds like.
EDWARDS: Well, or to see their fellow students, their faculty as people to fear, to you know, to be afraid of. It's just mind boggling to me.
Schow responded by suggesting that "hysteria" over campus sexual assault is harmful to women and that it is being driven by "the one in five myth" -- a reference to the widely cited figure that one in five women will experience sexual assault during college.
According to Schow, women exposed to data about campus sexual assaults prior to attending school are "going to be thinking at every turn that anyone who talks to me is just trying to rape me, and what does that do for incident reporting, what does that do for women wanting to enter college, to feel safe at college at all?" Edwards agreed, adding, "you're better off not talking to people because you can either be accused of, you know, saying something insensitive or doing something insensitive."
(The claim that education about sexual assault is scaring women from attaining higher education is a red herring; according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention women face a substantial likelihood of sexual assault both on and off campus.)
Schow also suggested sexual assault was the result of women drinking too much, garnering the agreement of Edwards.
Positing that you have to tell men and women attending college different reasons for "why they shouldn't drink so much that they black out at parties," Schow said, "You remind girls that this might happen, you might regret it, and you might be thrown into this ordeal, and then you tell your sons that you could get expelled for doing this. So, you know, I mean a lot of this really has to do with alcohol consumption because so many of these cases come down to two people being drunk at a party hooking up and then somebody, usually the girl, regretting it the next morning." Edwards responded, "Yup. Absolutely."
The NRA amped up its appeal for women supporters during its 2014 annual meetings -- although attendance still came in at 81 percent male -- and has recently debuted several female "NRA News commentators" and featured women prominently in its new ad campaign.
At the same time, the NRA's media arm continues to insult women, with the NRA's premiere publication America's 1st Freedom recently depicting prominent gun safety activist Shannon Watts as a 1950s style housewife, and through its recently launched NRA Freestyle online network that has objectified women by reducing them to descriptions of assault weapons.
The entire discussion of campus sexual assault on NRA News: