I know, there’s been lots of words already. However, a recent comment about the #MeToo crowd trading “sex for profit” points out a basic misunderstanding about sexual exploitation and abuse: the victims are victims.
Child actor Todd Bridges gives the most common reason for keeping quiet: “[T]hey say you’re lying.”
Oh, I do want to know where the “Women’s March” was before January 20, 2017! And I’d like to ask Ashley Judd and Madonna, two of the “nasty women” who claim victimhood while wearing pink “pussy hats,” reciting obscene poetry, and cussing from the podium on the National Mall why they blame Conservatives and the current US Administration – for the culture that exploits girls and women (and boys) sexually. In response, it’s easy to point to the fact that Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey are anything but “Conservative.” Even if we skip right over the abusive history of Democrats Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner, you would think that the Grammy Awards would have included some condemnation against politicians like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for accepting financial support from Weinstein, rather than show casing Hillary to take a shot at President Trump. (Or concern that Obama allowed one of his daughters to work for Weinstein’s company as an intern)
Yes, there’s a long list of women who are now making claims about past sexual abuse and harassment in Hollywood. It’s easy to simply say that they remained silent to protect their careers or in exchange for money after lawsuits. However, read a few histories and you’ll see that some of the victims were children, others reported crimes but prosecutors failed to press charges, and for many young men and women that it’s much more complicated than that.
First, sexual abuse is furtive and involves manipulation, lies and even force. Child victims are innocent and don’t understand the grooming and abuse until older unless they are hurt. More mature victims are trapped, tricked or physically forced into vulnerable situations. Loved ones may be threatened.
Second, there’s guilt. By the time the children realize that the abuse is wrong, they feel guilty and blame themselves. I’m sure that even more mature victims feel some guilt for their vulnerability.
Then, as Mr. Bridges said, “When you realise it’s wrong, they say you’re lying.” Ashley Judd also reports that no one believed her outcry when she was a child. And the comment that spurred me to write this essay is very common: the victim profited somehow, but now claims to be a victim.
Finally, there’s lots of reasons to cover up, drop charges or settle legal procedings and lots of people have something to lose if the perpetrator is prosecuted or even reported. Perhaps the environment is one of “everybody knew” what was going on, so everybody who knew was complicit. Family members and victims may not want to risk the humiliation and victim-blaming/shaming that always seems to accompany sexual abuse and the resultant accusations of “it’s just about sex,” and “he/she was complicit.” All of the above, as well as the police and prosecutors, might not want to risk counter suits.
Often, the victims are ignored and the abuser(s) suffer little or no consequences and successfully block the victim’s story from being told. See the story of Corey Feldman or the documentary, “An Open Secret.” Then, there are the threats,as Harvey Weinstein has shown.
I hope that we’re seeing a change in our response to sexual assault and harassment. I hope that the demand for transparency like “street artist,” Sabo’s billboards will be heeded.I hope I don’t blame the victim myself and never hear unsubstantiated claims that sexual assault are simply prostitutes, in the past and present.