In a weekend editorial that ran in the Washington Post and New York Post, columnist George Will caused outrage for writing that being a rape survivor on college campuses is now a “coveted status that confers privileges.”
Will’s column sparked an outcry on Twitter, and feminist writer and activist Wagatwe Wanjuki started the hashtag #SurvivorPrivilege, with tweeters recounting their own stories of sexual assault and violence. BuzzFeed spoke with Wanjuki about Will’s article and what inspired her to start the hashtag.
What was your initial reaction to George Will’s article?
Wagatwe Wanjuki: My initial reaction was that of incredulity. I could not understand how someone could ever begin to think that going through the trauma of sexual violence has benefits in any way, shape, or form.
What inspired you to begin the hashtag, and what do you hope will come from it?
WW: I honestly started the hashtag as a way to share my frustration with the notion that survivors have privilege. It’s one of those situations where I felt like I should laugh so I don’t cry, so I used my sarcasm to start a conversation about how difficult it is to be a survivor. I hope the hashtag will help highlight the absurdity of George Will’s column and that survivors are struggling in the aftermath of sexual violence. No one wants to be the victim of a violent crime.
How do you feel when you see people share their deeply personal stories using the hashtag you began?
WW: I am saddened that so many people have such heartbreaking stories. However, I am happy that people are finding community in something so terrible and showing publicly just how wrong George Will is. It is particularly deplorable that his piece was allowed to be printed considering how many horror stories about the very real, devastating effects of sexual violence have been prominent in the media lately.