The Changing World

After a bit of a break due to focusing on NaNoWriMo (which I barely completed but still came through in the end), I have returned. Thursday’s scheduled blog will tell you all about this new project, which I am really excited about. Now, to today’s post.

The fall of Weinstein over sexual misconduct was a change that needed to happen. Most people know more people (I say “people” purposefully because women are not the only ones who can fall prey to this behavior), who have suffered these types of situations than know people who have never had to deal with it. It is a sad reality that people just accepted. They accepted the fact that their boss leered at them and despite the fact that it gave them the creeps and made them feel uncomfortable. They just accepted that this was never going to change. It wasn’t. It is a completely hopeless feeling to know that people could treat you and do whatever they wanted to you without you having any control over it at all. That changed when Weinstein fell.

Now people are finding courage, men and women, to stand up for themselves. One by one, celebrities that fans adored have fallen from grace because of what their lawyers want to belittle as “indiscretions”. These are not indiscretions; these are purposeful acts that are there to make the perpetrator feel powerful and in control while taking away every ounce of control and self-esteem of their victim. I hate to use the word victim though. Some people who go through these things are not even close to being a victim. They find a way to take the power back and overcome. That is not a victim to me. That is a survivor.

That is what makes this Roy Moore thing so awful to me. In a time when things are starting to change, where women are no longer “just making it up” or “deserve what they got”, he may very well have numerous other people too afraid to come forward (because of the awful political climate) that have fallen prey to his power trip. But yet, “a sexual predator is better than a democrat”. This not only highlights the fact that there are still so many changes that need to be made in the world, but it also highlights the fact that voters only seem to care about the letter next to a person’s name and not their beliefs and integrity. This is scary. What this means is that maybe this is a short burst of a revolution that will only be shot down because there truly is no justice in the world for these people who suffered at the hands of more powerful individuals. This is just a passing trend right now that will take some people down, but in a few months maybe people won’t even care. There will be no #metoo movement to save them. Then victims will go back into hiding, too afraid to stand up for themselves again. I feel nauseated just thinking about it.

Another valid argument for my point? Brock Turner. In case you don’t remember that name, let me refresh your memory. He was the guy who was doing whatever he wanted to an unconscious woman, got caught in the act then stopped by heroes passing by, and ended up serving 3 months out of a 6 month sentence, though the maximum for his crimes were 14 years. It outraged anyone with a conscious. It proved a point of why sexual assault survivors never come forward. Why bother if they will just get their names sullied while never getting any justice? Think Emily Doe got justice when her rapist, who will always torture her in the back of her mind, spent only 3 months in jail because of “good behavior”? Now that I have refreshed your memory, wait to be further outraged by the fact he is trying to get the convictions overturned because he “never actually committed any crime”. He just got an unfair hearing because the prosecutor said that he did it behind a dumpster. Because the location of this horrible act somehow makes it a little less horrible because it was out in the open and not “hidden”. I think that nauseated feeling just got a lot worse.

So are the times changing? Are people who suffered any type of sexual misconduct by others finally going to be able to stand up without feeling any shame? Part of me wants to be hopeful, that this is a good sign in the right direction where rapists get more than a slap on the risk for permanently scarring another human being. That a woman can wear whatever she wants at work without being worried about how people are going to treat her. Where men do not have to silently take it because “only women can be victims”. But the rest of me is too cautious and realistic to accept that this may be a time of change. If it were, politicians would be held to a higher standard than Hollywood producers. They would not be elected into office despite the fact that people know that he may have done it. The allegations alone would warrant an investigation that would make the voters call for him to step down and vote another way. Because the idea that this person, who raped an unconscious woman, still has no remorse for what he did and will put his victim through another trial because “why should his life be ruined for 20 minutes of bad judgement”. It’s disgusting. Instead, it shows me that this is a trend that will go stale soon, leaving some ruins behind in the world. It will be like that scar on your arm when you burned yourself that one Thanksgiving. You never remember it’s there until you notice it on your arm and then you think back to how it got there. Then it gets forgotten again.

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Just Dress in More Modest Clothes and You’ll be Fine

Today’s post was originally a light-hearted commentary on things to improve jury duty. It joined the “in case you’re needed” area and was replaced with something more relevant and important: victim shaming. This is a response to the story about Donna Karan saying that women “ask for it”. “The way that they dress, they are asking for trouble.”

The minute I hear those words, my skin crawls. I can’t imagine someone wakes up and says “I think I’ll wear this and I really hope I get sexually harassed or assaulted for it. Boy, that would be fan-freaking-tastic, wouldn’t it?” That is exactly the implication you are making by comments like that. It’s not just insulting; it’s downright vile. Especially coming from a woman who has probably experienced it in her lifetime. If you look at the statistics, somewhere around 81% of women have experienced it as have around 20% of men.

She used the go-to excuse of “words being taken out of context”, a.k.a. what every celebrity says when they realized that their actual opinions could potentially destroy their livelihood. Next will be the very public mea culpa that tends to follow these events. Then people will forget that she ever said it and life goes on without ever addressing the greater problem again.

There is a reason why people stay quiet. This is the reason. I don’t want to call these people (both men and women can experience this) victims. They are not victims. They are survivors of whatever happened. They moved forward. They suffered in silence, which can even be worse than the harassment or especially any unwanted touches/assault. The minute people can start holding the person who did the act accountable rather than blaming the one who experienced this power play, that is when things change.

At the end of the day, sexual harassment and assaults are about the power a person can have over another with very little to actually do about sex. People become more powerful by taking the power away from another. As long as silence is the only solution for those who suffer, this is going going to get worse. We need to start blaming the right people in these matters than the people who have to feel shame or embarrassment. It doesn’t matter what a person wears. It doesn’t matter if they said something flirtatious. It doesn’t matter what the other person did. They do not deserve it. We have to make sure that this is no longer acceptable behavior. We have to stop looking at the innocent party in this to see what they could have done to cause it. Rather, we need to look at the guilty party to see what is broken in them that makes this all okay.