There is a good deal of talk these days about sexual misconduct in the world. Politicians are leaving their posts, Hollywood executives are being sued and leaving, and the US Women’s gymnastics team got justice.
Perhaps I need new friends and family on social media, or maybe my feed isn’t any different than yours, but some of the snippets I see are, “Why now?” “This is a witch hunt.” “Its been x number of years, if it really happened…” I’ve also seen, “If she didn’t take that role…” “Well, she shouldn’t have been at that party…” “What was she wearing?” “Was she drinking?”
I have some questions in response.
Why, when women come forward en masse to accuse a man of misconduct are they met with questions? When thousands of boys come forward to accuse the Catholic Church of misconduct or Penn State’s football program of the same, they are not met with questions. They are offered therapy. There isn’t immediate discussion of statute of limitations.
Why, when a woman comes forward, is she met with character questions, clothing and drink choice inquiries? Did her skirt say “yes” while she was busy saying “no?” Where do you buy clothing that has the ability to speak on your behalf? Since when did the 3 beers she had have the ability to come back up later in the night and prevent her from saying “no” loud enough for someone to put their hands on her? Why do we create drinks in bars called “angel shots” for women to have to order to get home safely? Why do we have to have nail polish that changes colors to indicate something has been put into her drink?
Why does her timing matter? There is psychology behind rape and sexual abuse that seems to be taken into consideration when the accuser is male but ignored when a woman comes forward. People ask, “why now?” Would YOU want to come forward after seeing what the media and the public does to a woman who is brave enough to come forward? People ask, “why so many, aren’t they jumping on the bandwagon?” Well first, that is a disgusting bandwagon to be on. I would not put myself on there if something hadn’t happened to me.
What we should understand is, there is no more vulnerable thing to say to another human being than “me to.” (Hence the name of the movement.) When you’re struggling as a mom, when you’ve dropped the ball at work, or when you are facing an uphill climb in any facet of your life, when someone looks you in the eyes and says, “That is also my story,” it makes you not feel so alone, so other. AND, in the case of rape or sexual misconduct, if it prevents a criminal from being a priest, football coach, producer, executive, Justice of the Supreme Court, or POTUS, then by all means, let the accuser speak.
What people seem to forget is that there are investigations that occur when a claim like that is made. So, if the man is innocent, he will be shown as such. If he is guilty, do you really want him representing/leading? As for the timing of some of these women, I know I would be given a shot of courage if I turned on the news and saw that the person who raped or touched me was about to be given a large amount of power. It may cause me to push aside my fear of being torn apart and labeled a whore or a puppet or whatever term we’re using now to vilify the women who step forward and speak out anyway.
Girls are taught very young never got to the bathroom by themselves, don’t walk alone at night, carry pepper spray, and on and on and on. My parents certainly said those things to me. I don’t recall my brother getting the same talk. He wasn’t told how to protect himself when he’s by himself or given a million things he shouldn’t do for fear of being abused. I see the double standard. He was just as at risk for being snatched and molested as I was as a child. As we got older, though, my parents didn’t have the same fear for him as for me.
Women are told what to wear so as not to attract “unwanted” attention. School and even corporate dress codes make sure shirts and shorts and dresses don’t expose too much so that they aren’t a “distraction.” Those dress codes never specify who is being distracted or why what they are wearing should be controlled to prevent someone else from losing control.
Just like everything else in the world that I see and read, I think about how I’m going to have to explain it to my boys. Just the other day someone posted something that said, “Every mother of boys should be terrified that at any time, any girl can fabricate any story without proof and ruin their lives.” I’ll tell you why I’m not terrified. There is no way to fabricate a story of rape or misconduct if you do not put yourself into a situation for one to be fabricated. Ty and I will teach our sons that you do not put yourself into a situation where there is any doubt about what sort of man you are.
If you ask a girl out and she says no, you don’t try harder, you move on. No is an answer. If you are at a party and the girl you brought is drunk, you make sure she gets home safely and you do not engage in anything sexual. If she wasn’t in a state to drive, she isn’t in a state to make a sexual decision. If, at any point in a sexual encounter, a girl says “no.” Then you’re done. No is an answer.
The one piece of learning I will pound into their heads is that they do not have rights to anyone’s body but their own. It doesn’t matter what she’s wearing, what she said, or what she did. Women are not property to be had, they are not “asking for it,” and their BAC has nothing to do with consent. They will be told to get permission every. single. time.
On the other side of that coin, those around them will be told they need consent to touch them. If they don’t want to hug someone or get a kiss, they don’t have to. They get consent over their bodies too. I know no better way to teach them consent than to give them the ability to practice.
Here’s the main thing I’d like for you to think about if you’re still reading this. Your reactions to news stories, gossip, rumors, etc. are speaking volumes to your daughters about whether you would support them if they were ever in a situation like some of these women have been. You may not think they hear you question what she was wearing, why she didn’t come forward sooner, etc., but she does. She is shaping her opinion of you and your support on your words. She is learning what value you place on her as a woman. The thing that makes me worry…so are your sons.