NRO Contributor Downplays Effect Of Sexual Assault On Homeless Veterans

NRO National Review Online contributor Heather Mac Donald attacked female veterans who have struggled as a result of sexual abuse by fellow service members, speculating that any hardships they experience is more likely a  result of “bad decision-making” than the lingering effects of their “alleged sexual assault.”

Responding to a New York Times article that profiled female veterans who had been victims of sexual abuse and fell into homelessness, Mac Donald offered the “tentative alternative hypothesis” that some of these women, regardless of whether they were victims of sexual assault, were predisposed to become homeless because of the environments they came from. Mac Donald went on to imply that the women should blame poor decisions they had made for their condition, instead of “alleged sexual assault”:

Now here is a tentative alternative hypothesis: Some of these women come from environments that made their descent into street life overdetermined, whether or not they experienced alleged sexual assault in the military. To blame alleged sexual assault for their fate rather than their own bad decision-making is ideologically satisfying, but mystifying. Having children out of wedlock, as a huge proportion of them do, also does not help in avoiding poverty and homelessness.


Feminists claim (speciously) that a whopping one-quarter of college co-eds are sexually assaulted by their fellow students in college; I am not aware of comparable claims that huge numbers of female college graduates are as a result ending up on the street. (The difference between the outcomes for college graduates and vets does not lie in the relative availability of services: College rape crisis centers and hotlines are barely used.) I am not even aware of claims that victims of stranger rape are more likely to end up dealing drugs and homeless, but that evidence may in fact be out there. (I recently wrote about a tough-as-nails, pro-police building superintendent in the Bronx who was raped three times, including by her mother's boyfriend as a child; she is only one case, obviously, but she was not on disability benefits or on the streets.)  

Mac Donald concluded by suggesting that if “it really was their sexual experiences in the military that caused their downward spiral,” feminists should oppose allowing women to serve in combat roles because "[a]rguably, coming under enemy fire or falling into enemy hands is as traumatic as the behavior one may experience while binge-drinking with one's fellow soldiers or as scarring as being 'bullied and ostracized' by a female superior."