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sexual abuse

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Some words @ #MeToo

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.

Sexual Harassment is About Power, Not Sex

L.L. Lewis has written about her experience as a 17 year old college freshman, My surreal experience reporting staff sexual molestation to my college administration,” published in today’s American Thinker website.

How many will blame this woman for writing her story now and claim that she’s exploiting Herman Cain’s “troubles” or the Penn State sexual molestation cases? She’s just asking for it, right?

Ms. Lewis did the right thing, even as a 17 year old, and was treated as though she was the perpetrator, not the victim. “Blame the victim” is common in sexual harassment and that is one reason why the perpetrators get by with it.

What’s often overlooked when we discuss sexual harassment is that the abuse is not due to sexual needs or attraction.  At its base is the power and control that the abuser believes he has. He does it because he can, because he’s smarter than the rest of us, and – because of the sexual element introduced by his actions – he can get his thrills (even without actual sexual acts) and she will be intimidated, limited and/or humiliated  – even more than she already is – if she objects.

The abusers are usually in positions of some power, but not always. They like to take advantage of hourly wage earners and students, but even professional women are not immune. The common thread is that there is some element of “deniability.” — because who would believe them? “He said/she said” is a powerful accusation as well as a comment on the circumstances.

Like this doctor: it’s just part of his job, he was just being friendly and helpful, making a joke, or it was just a compliment, etc. She misinterpreted, needs a sense of humor, or is fantasizing or is just plain ol’ crazy. And  – wait for it – she hates men or is prejudiced for some reason against the man.

There is also an underlying theme among those who should react and protect that “There but for the Grace of God go I,”  and the very real liability that lawsuits could bring. That’s why the Dean of Students in this story made such a point about the doctor being a good husband and family man: part defense, part inoculation against similar accusations.  Who among us has not had some moment when we were tempted or inadvertently found ourselves in a near-compromising position? And everyone has heard the stories about the litigious, gold-digger, the temptress who becomes the scorned woman and exploits laws against sexual harassment for money, advancement or out of meanness.

One of the best things my parents did was to teach me to speak up for myself and to protect myself. I remember Daddy teaching us girls “where to kick” when we probably were too short to kick “there.”  We certainly didn’t have any idea *why.*

I’m not saying that every act of sexual harassment is really threatening or requires a response. I would be willing to bet that every woman and most men remember some episode when they knew that they were made uncomfortable because of their gender, whether in a sexual way or professionally. Most of us let it slide, ignored it and learned to deal with it. I’m proud of similar times in my life. But my cheeks still burn at the memory of others and a couple are just confusing. I am also proud of times when I stood up to harassers and of the couple of times when I defended others.

There are certainly times – as with Mr. Cain’s troubles – when we must judge who is the victim and when “He said/She said” is all we have to go on. My wish is that we who call ourselves Conservatives will attempt to lay aside our own prejudices and emotions to defend the true victims.

 

 

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