Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich suggested that sexual assaults benefit feminists and school administrators politically, and said that “lots of the time” women “make a decision about whether you are going to stop a sexual assault or not,” during a campus appearance to discuss how guns can be the “best defense” against sexual assault.
And in an exchange that prompted an audible reaction from the audience, Pavlich offered a sarcastic apology while disagreeing with a woman who shared that she was sexually assaulted as a child.
On March 10, Pavlich delivered a speech called “Sexual Assault on Campus: A Conservative Perspective” at an event organized by Iowa State University's College Republicans chapter, the conservative group Young America's Foundation, and ISU's Committee on Lectures.
During her remarks, Pavlich advanced the evidence-free notion that allowing students to carry concealed guns on college campuses will reduce sexual assault and also argued that the incidence of sexual assaults on college campuses has been exaggerated. (According to academic research, students who carried guns while at college were more likely to report “being victims and perpetrators of physical and sexual violence at college” compared to students who did not.)
Iowa State Daily reported that “Pavlich was met with resistance from multiple ISU students, including a large group of purple-clad students attending the lecture as part of an organized effort called 'Standing up to Katie Pavlich and Rape Culture.'”
After her speech, several survivors of sexual assault challenged Pavlich on her notion that guns will prevent future assaults. An ISU women's studies lecturer later told the student paper that Pavlich's remarks were “incredibly irresponsible” because "[i]t was a 'conservative take on sexual assault,' but it was clear her intent was to advocate for concealed carry laws."
In audio obtained by Media Matters, Pavlich is heard suggesting that the actions of feminists and colleges end up permitting assaults to occur because victims help them push a feminist and “anti-gun” agenda. She also said that “lots of the time” women “make a decision” about whether or not they will be sexually assaulted in the seconds before an attack occurs.
Pavlich makes frequent appearances on Fox News, often as a panelist on daytime show Outnumbered.
Here are four lowlights from Pavlich's Iowa State appearance:
Pavlich: “Modern Feminism Can't Survive Without Victims, So Naturally Preventing Victimhood Through Self-Defense Is Unacceptable”
Pavlich claimed that “modern feminism can't survive without victims, so naturally preventing victimhood through self-defense is unacceptable.” She then added, “Telling women they don't need self-defense to prevent rape is exactly what moves real rape culture forward because violent criminals can operate without resistance.”
Pavlich: Administrators' “Anti-Gun” Agenda Is Partially Responsible For Sexual Assaults
Pavlich also argued that school administrators are partially responsible for assaults because they “uphold an anti-gun political philosophy” (emphasis added):
PAVLICH: Let's keep teaching everyone that rape is barbaric, while also teaching women about self-defense, and allowing them the tools, all of the tools they need to defend themselves, should they find themselves in a dangerous or violent situation. Because they could, and many of them will. We can, and should, do both of these things.
But while women on college campuses may have access to self-defense classes or less than lethal force to defend themselves, there are instances where it isn't enough because of anti-gun policies on campuses. And because of these policies, women are being turned into victims in order to uphold an anti-gun political philosophy held by administrators.
What can be a woman's best defense against a sexual assault? A gun. Nearly 300,000 women use handguns every year to defend themselves against sexual assault, according to the FBI.
The FBI doesn't report data on the use of firearms to prevent sexual assaults, so it is unclear where Pavlich is getting this number from. The Bureau of Justice Statistics does, however, collect data on the use of firearms to prevent all violent crime. They found 235,700 incidents in total -- over a five year period -- for all violent crimes involving men and women acting in self-defense.
Pavlich: “Lots Of The Time” Women “Make A Decision” About Whether Or Not They Will Be Assaulted By Their Attacker
Pavlich suggested that women have to act quickly “to make a decision about whether you are going to stop a sexual assault or not or have the ability to.” From the appearance:
PAVLICH: The question that isn't being answered here is what if a stalker becomes violent in real time. How should a woman react to a violent stalker? What if the police don't show up on time? The average response time in big cities for sexual assault now is an hour. And lots of the time you have 20 seconds to make a decision about whether you are going to stop a sexual assault or not or have the ability to.
Pavlich Offers Sarcastic Apology While Disagreeing With Audience Member Who Was Sexually Assaulted As A Child
During a question-and-answer session following Pavlich's speech, a woman used her own experience of being sexually assaulted as a child to make a point about how Pavlich's pro-gun argument would not realistically prevent sexual assaults. Pavlich said that an adult in the room should have stopped the woman's assault. When the woman responded, “There were no adults in the room,” Pavlich said, “Well they should have been” and then sarcastically added, “Sorry,” causing some members of the audience to react. Pavlich went on to ask the woman a question and then abruptly cut her off before she could finish.
A full transcript and audio of the exchange:
QUESTIONER: Hi. So I was just wondering -- I have two minor points. First, your discussion about this question about if you are 21 and you can't -- laws vary in different states about wielding a firearm. What about children that are raped and abused? How are you gonna -- in talking about this in a way that is more applicable to someone, I was sexually assaulted when I was six. How do I control that?
PAVLICH: You can't. Adults in the room have a responsibility to protect you.
QUESTIONER: There were no adults in the room.
PAVLICH: Well they should have been. Sorry.
QUESTIONER: How do you do that when your parents are working and you're with a baby sitter?
PAVLICH: Here is the bottom line, I am not suggesting that children have firearms and for you to pull that out of the speech, it was nowhere in there. So it's --
QUESTIONER: I never made that claim either, don't make claims about -- I'm not making claims about you.
PAVLICH: What are you suggesting children should do?
QUESTIONER: I'm suggesting that not -- we need another solution and your solution --
PAVLICH: What's the solution? That we haven't already had. What's the solution?
QUESTIONER: I would say to educate -- to get rid of this male dominance in society. And the way to do that is not firing or allowing everyone to have guns.
PAVLICH: Which I never said, I just said that two seconds ago.
QUESTIONER: Ok. And then my other question is about you saying that not everybody should have guns, your whole, like the thesis of your discussion was that in order to prevent rapes from happening you should allow concealed and carry.
QUESTIONER: People -- I choose not to carry a gun. How am I just supposed to sit there and let this happen? How am I supposed to counter someone, like what are your other solutions --
PAVLICH: Why don't you want. Why are you -- what about a female in particular having a firearm to defend herself against rape -- what threat does that have to you?
QUESTIONER: There's a lot of other complex issues about --
PAVLICH: Right, next question.
QUESTIONER: -- my personal freedom about --