I’ve got nothing but love for my fellow feminists out there in the trenches, working to raise money and fund programs and bring meaningful change. But when one of those feminists spits on and stomps all over our core values IN PUBLIC–I absolutely flame up like the Hindenberg. And my righteous feminist fury has been burning bright since last week, when I read this statement in the Los Angeles Times about the prosecution of sexual predator Roman Polanski:
“My personal thoughts are let the guy go,” said Peg Yorkin, founder of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “It’s bad a person was raped. But that was so many years ago. The guy has been through so much in his life. It’s crazy to arrest him now. Let it go. The government could spend its money on other things.”
Of all the things I’ve heard about Roman Polanski, this is the most infuriating. There’s the use of passive tense that dehumanizes the victim–”it’s bad someone was raped”–and symapthizing with the attacker rather than the victim–“The guy has been through so much in his life.”–to the ultimate “rape is no big deal” kiss-off: “Let it go.” (For a line-by-line breakdown of all the WRONGNESS in that statement, you can read my “Open Letter to Peg Yorkin”). It’s douche-y in a way I’d expect from Fox News. Or Rush Limbaugh. But no, this time the douchery comes from within our own ranks, which makes it all the more disgusting.
Feminists disagree on many things, but the importance of prosecuting rapists and fighting rape culture is not one of them. If the founder and chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation–which funds and refers victims to sexual assault hotlines and survivor resources–makes a public statement like that, she must resign. The FMF later issued a press release, protesting that the comment was Peg Yorkin’s “personal opinion” and that Yorkin “wants to make clear she condemns rape.”
Yorkin has still not apologized, or repudiated her comments. And, frankly, the mere fact that the chair of the FMF has to clarify her position on rape makes it painfully obvious why Peg Yorkin should not be chair of the FMF. I’m not the only one who was furious at Peg Yorkin’s douche-y betrayal–check out what our sisters at Shakesville, Jezebel and Feministe had to say.