Bristol clarified on Good Morning America that she wasn’t accusing Levi of rape or calling him a rapist, but instead that she was looking at the situation “with adult eyes” and realizing that it was “foolish.” She went on to say that she “shouldn’t have been drinking and I shouldn’t have let myself get into a situation like that.” Some people are taking this to mean that what happened wasn’t rape, but that’s not what it means at all…Bristol has been raised in a culture that constantly and consistently blames women for their own assaults and is internalizing the blame, just like countless other victims of assault.
This isn’t surprising and it isn’t new. My heart broke when I saw this interview because I’ve been there. I’ve said to myself, “Well if I hadn’t done x y and z…” I would still believe that if I didn’t have the open, heartfelt, necessary support that I did. Bristol is obviously not going to get this support from her conservative family or from a culture that constantly seeks to minimize rape. And now at a time when prominent feminists have a chance to reach out and extend that support to her, they’re either remaining silent or playing directly into sexist, misogynist cultural narratives that insist women lie about assault to get ahead.
I question whether she was using intentionally murky language because she is a very prominent, extremely well-paid abstinence speaker and not having willingly had sex could bolster her position and reduce criticisms from those who consider her a hypocrite…. But it could also be that a young woman from a very conservative family that traffics in circles that regularly deny that date rape exists would have a hard time naming it. We don’t know. It could be that she doesn’t even know.
Tricky, tricky issue, but strikes us as too important to ignore.
20 year-old Bristol Palin has undergone jaw surgery, and while she says it was “necessary for medical reasons” she is also thrilled to have gotten rid of her “chubby little baby face.” Is this contradictory to her platform as a role model for young girls, or is it unfair to judge?