Former GWU Pres Tells Women Stop Drinking to Avoid Rape | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Former GWU Pres Tells Women Stop Drinking to Avoid Rape

Dr. Trachtenberg was roundly criticized from all corners for his obtuse remarks.


Photo via

By Paul Gaita


| Share

The former president of George Washington University has come under fire for comments he made on the issue of sexual assault against women on college campuses.

Dr. Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, who retired in 2007 after 19 years as GWU president, was a guest on the August 26 edition of NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show” on WAMU 88.5 FM. The show, which initially concerned fraternities and sororities, addressed the topic of sexual assault on campus, which prompted Trachtenberg to weigh in on the subject.

“Without making the victims…responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women,” he said. “They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave. And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much. And there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children…in that regard.”

Another panelist on the program, Caitlin Flanagan who writes for the Atlantic, took a “real exception” to Trachtenberg’s comments by noting that his suggestions were “not a realistic strategy for protecting ourselves from rape.” Her sentiments were echoed in the days that followed, particularly by students from GWU’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, who emailed the president emeritus to express their disappointment.

A petition on requested that Trachtenberg apologize for his comments, something he stopped short of doing in a statement issued on the 29th. “Apologizing isn’t exactly the word I would use,” he said. “I’m explaining.”

“I was trying to say only that people need to know their limits," Trachtenberg wrote in his response to the GWU students’ emails. "That sober is safer. That someone who is drunk is more vulnerable to attack. I also think that being educated about what to do if attacked is empowering."

Dr. Trachtenberg’s statements are the latest in a string of similar admonishments to women by authority figures and pundits., which broke the news about Trachtenberg’s comments, posted a startling gallery of PSA advertisements by law and government officials in the UK and United States which essentially pinned women’s dress and behavior as the reason for rape, while Slate’s Emily Yoffe was widely criticized for an essay which told women that by getting drunk, they were inviting sexual assault.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv