“I have not. Because I would never put myself in that position.”
That was the response Harvey Weinstein’s lead lawyer Donna Rotunno offered to New York Times reporter Megan Twohey when she asked if Rotunno has ever been assaulted herself.
“I never drank too much I never when home with someone that I didn’t know. I just never put myself in any vulnerable circumstance. Ever.” Rotunno continued.
Although one would think that at this point the world, let alone a defense lawyer, would be a smidge more educated about the antecedents of sexual assault, Rotunno reminds us all that’s not the case. Setting aside literally everything else wrong with her reasoning, women aren’t responsible for the actions of someone else. That’s it. That’s the tweet.
Circling back to the details of her terrible rationale, Rotunno perpetuates perhaps one of the most obviously incorrect notions about sexual violence – in the words of Kimmy Schmidt, Stranger Danger! 67% of sexual assault occurs at or near the home of the person assaulted or at the home of someone they know, and 70% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, including the nearly 10% of women who are raped by their partners. These statistics are even more dismal for Black women, 20% of whom will experience sexual violence in their lifetime, and American Indian & Alaska Native women who report prevalence rates of rape at 34%. Nearly half of Transgender folks are sexually assaulted at some point in their life.
Outside of their home, women are also likely to be sexually harassed or assaulted by someone they know at work – a place where 57% of women in the United States go. It is estimated that anywhere between a quarter and 8 in 10 women experience sexual harassment or assault in the workplace in their lifetime. Women in certain types of jobs, including working for tips (e.g., the service industry; working in isolated spaces (e.g., janitors, hotel workers); and working in male-dominated industries (e.g., the legal profession) are even more likely to experience harassment and assault at work.
So, dear reader, the facts are clear here. This “I’m not that kind of girl” schtick that Rotunno is pushing is not only insulting, it’s stupid. I’m afraid that her statement is incorrect on basically every level. Please pay close attention. People do not “put [themselves in the] position” to be raped or assaulted. Not to belabor the very obvious point here, but there isn’t some magical thing you can do (or not do) to make yourself invincible. Unless you can live in the ether. Because that’s totally a thing that people can do.
We must come to grips with the reality that harassment and assault are about power, and that simply by having less power, people have “put themselves in that situation.” If that doesn’t sound okay to you (it sure as hell doesn’t to us), then it’s time to change the conversation and join the coalition.