In her new book, Bristol Palin writes that she has no recollection of losing her virginity because Levi Johnston got her drunk on wine coolers. “Levi wasn’t even there to help me process—or even confirm—my greatly feared suspicions,” she writes of waking up alone in their tent the next morning. Nowhere in the book does Bristol use the word rape, but "what she describes seems to be just that," writes Jessica Valenti in the Washington Post. In Bristol's telling, it was a "nonconsensual—and likely illegal—assault."
Not naming it as such—"and blaming herself, as she does in the book—sends a dangerous message to young women who may have similar experiences," writes Valenti. Her point isn't to bash Bristol—she "deserves the same respect as any woman speaking out about her experience, no matter what she calls it"—but she wonders whether some good could come of it. "If Palin were to speak out unequivocally about her experience, she could make a tremendous difference in the lives of assault victims by making it clear that rape is rape, whether it happens in a hotel room, in an alley or in a tent in Alaska."