Naomi Wolf has revealed that she was raped by a babysitter when she was seven years old, an ordeal she said made her feel like she “might have been about to die”.
The feminist activist, writing in the Sunday Times, said the #MeToo movement had inspired her to break her silence, 48 years after she was attacked.
“I am a survivor of rape as a child by a male babysitter,” Wolf wrote.
“Every woman I know who has been raped, including myself, thought she might have been about to die. What is damaging is the experience of being absolutely nothing in the presence of another human being.”
In recalling the trauma, the 55-year-old former adviser to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, criticised feminist academic Germaine Greer’s controversial essay, On Rape, which is due to be published this week.
Wolf, famed for her 1990 feminist polemic The Beauty Myth, accused Greer of writing an “offensive” book that seals her reputation as someone who “knows and understands nothing whatsoever about rape”.
Wolf, who has worked in a rape crisis centre, writes: “One watches with regret as one of the best minds of her generation seems to wake from a 40-year sleep and blunder, again and again, into long-discredited errors from the distant past.”
In her article for the Times’ Books section, Wolf recalled comments Greer, a survivor of rape herself, made at the Hay Festival in May.
Greer said “most rape is just lazy, just careless, just insensitive” and argued rape without injury is not violent.
Wolf questioned the remarks which she said would be “painful” for “any even half-aware reader” and rebutted Greer’s definition of rape as only the non- consensual penetration of the vagina by the “penis of a human male”.
“I was orally raped on the first night and vaginally raped the following day,” Wolf said of her own ordeal.
“Does the first night somehow not count? I can assure Greer that the first night was no less traumatic than the next day.”
Wolf further accused Greer of trying to “re-situate rape in the blurry spaces of miscommunication”.
Useful websites and helplines:
Rape Crisis services for women and girls who have been raped or have experienced sexual violence - 0808 802 9999 Survivors UK offers support for men and boys - 0203 598 3898
Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 UK and Ireland (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
You can call Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Monday-Friday 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41.
Maytree is a sanctuary for the suicidal in north London in a non-medical setting. For help or to enquire about a stay, call 020 7263 7070.