Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Powerful Men, Accusations, and a Culture that Encourages Silence. Shame on Those Who Cheered.
Let me make it clear from the start- I am not a supporter of Clinton or Trump. I don't think either is evil incarnate, nor do I think either is going to be the savior of our country. I think both have some good ideas, but both are deeply, deeply flawed.
Having said that, this election makes me sick to my stomach. I feel like we've been given two candidates who offer nothing more than the same pile of dog poop, spritzed with different perfumes and wrapped in colorful packaging. Sadly, when one or the other of the main choices gets elected, the American populace will find that the opened present is still just dog poop, covered with incivility, rancor, and dissension.
One of the things that has bothered me the most lately is watching footage of Trump at one of his rallies, starting out by denouncing the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. That in itself is expected (what powerful politician has ever voluntarily accepted blame??!) but what really sickened me was his supporters' reaction. They cheered. Cheered at his denunciation of women whose stories are nothing more than make-believe to him, and by extension, to them. Cheered because he vowed to sue each of them at the end of the election.
What's so disturbing about this? Simply put, it is an indication of the culture that keeps little girls quiet when someone is molesting them. It's part of the thought process that makes a woman fail to report a date rape. It's an extension of a society that doesn't protect girls and women, and what's most sickening is that other women contribute to it.
I don't know how any woman who has been touched inappropriately, been molested, been raped, been afraid of getting away before being assaulted, or been treated like a sexual object can listen to another woman's accusation of such and have her immediate response be, "she's lying," just because of her political leanings. If you have ever been a victim yourself, or ever had to deal with the trauma and the aftermath of someone you care for, you know how deeply sexual assault wounds. It doesn't just touch the body, it damages the soul.
In our culture, though, we're encouraged to not speak up or out against it. Think about it- who wants to publicly accuse a man, especially one in a position of power or authority, without concrete proof? Are women supposed to wear body cameras to get irrefutable proof that a man has touched them without their permission? Think about how hard it is to prove that you've been the victim of sexual "misconduct." It's often a case of her word against his, and when you're up against someone powerful and/or famous, guess who's word is going to be given more gravity?
It's this crazy twisted faith that we put into men in authority that makes it less likely that a girl will report an assault. When we teach our daughters that those who come out publicly against someone we support is a liar, or deserved it, we are contributing to a society where our own daughter is less safe. If your first response to someone's accusation is that she's lying, or she's doing it for personal or political gain, there's something wrong with YOU. You should stop and ask yourself why your first response wasn't compassion and sympathy. If you're a Christian woman, even more shame on you. You weren't called to judge others unrighteously, without knowing the facts. You were called to love and lift others, especially those who are hurting. And I can guarantee you that if a woman experienced a sexual assault, she is hurting.
I don't know if the women who have accused Trump are telling the truth or not. Ultimately, only they and God know. But I can imagine the courage it takes to come forward and admit that such a powerful man took advantage of them. I can see one or two women maybe coming forward so publicly to make accusations for political reasons, but I find it hard to believe that more than one or two would want the kind of negative attention that was inevitable in accusing a man like Trump. Put yourself in their place...would you want to go through that experience just to maybe make a slight dent in Trump's polling numbers? Do you really think their own self-dignity is worth so little to them?
I find it disheartening that in the 21st century we're still placing blame first and foremost on the victim. We automatically jump to the conclusion that she was acting the wrong way, or "asked for it," or is lying. If her story doesn't come with irrefutable proof, all tied up in a perfect package, we are more likely to believe the man's side. Until we, as individuals and as a society, can make our first response compassion and a desire to find the truth, we're going to continue to have thousands upon thousands of girls and women experience unwanted sexual contact and never say a word about it, because the shame of the abuse is more than enough without adding the shame of public blame to it also.