Thinking about sexual abuse and assault

Every woman you know has encountered some sort of sexual verbal or physical abuse at least once in her life.

Every one.
Most women you know have had multiple instances of it. Some very serious. Some “just” inappropriate comments. Insinuations that a raise depends on sexual compliance. Groping. Sexual images in the workplace.
20-50 percent of them have been raped.

Think about it.

Think how many women are impacted. Women all over the world. Billions of them. Women who are part of your lives. Women you love. Your mothers, sisters, wives, aunts, cousins, coworkers, friends, lovers.

“But not all men are like that” you say. Of course not. But men need to be more active in fixing the problem. All of us do, but particularly men. Men have met this behavior with uncomfortable silence and turning their backs to it for too long.

But when I try to clarify my own thoughts about it, I have so many questions. More questions than answers.

What about false accusations?

Are they common or rare?

How young is too young to consent, and who decides?

Is there a certain amount of sexual behavior that we should tolerate even if it isn’t consensual?

What is worse-the predators or the men who know about their friends and co-workers who are predators and do nothing?

How do you balance a need to believe the victims with a need to a fair trial, whether the court of public opinion or a court of law?

What about innocent until proven guilty?

What about innocent until proven guilty when the judicial system is stacked with people, men, who are often abusers or inclined to favor abusers in court?

What about damage to careers?

Why are women blamed for the assaults and abuse directed at them so often?

What does it mean if someone waits decades to report an attack?

Or if she never reports it at all?

How can we expect anyone to report it when in most of the world women are brutalized for having been victimized?

How can we expect so much of women in the US when so often the victims are slut shamed or worse?

Is not reporting an attack a sign of guilt or innocence?

Is it meaningful in any way?

What is the line between a compliment and an inappropriate remark?

Should one mistake end someone’s career?

What about two?

How bad should the mistake be to end a career?

At what point should someone be fired?

Why do so many men think it’s OK to touch any part of a woman’s body?

Are we OK with sexual abuse being used as a partisan tool?

What about believing the ones who say it happened?

Are people more willing to believe accusations against gay men?

Are allegations of abuse being used for political ends?

What does it mean if an artist has committed some sort of abuse or assault?

Should they lose awards/accolades they earned for their art?

Does it nullify all accomplishment?

Do these men genuinely believe we want to see their dicks?

Is it really that difficult to keep it in your pants and keep your hands to yourself?

But here’s the thing: the US elected a president who admits that he has himself groped women and thinks it’s a celebrity perk. Even if you don’t believe the women who have accused him of rape, why do you not believe his own words?

What does it say about us as a nation that we are willing to elect pedophiles and rapists to our highest positions?

Are there so few men and women of character willing to run for office that this is the best we can do?

This is hard to write about. I have only questions, except for one thing: it needs to stop.