I used to be extremely vexed and personally offended when my mom would warn me about all my friend’s fathers or their brothers and their behaviors.
It made me feel like we were victim blaming my friends and their family without even really knowing them. But recently with all that has come to light with sexual assault was she truly outlandish for assuming that men have the potential to be abusers in any form? Men like Harvey Weinstein and Ray Moore and Larry Nassar or Mark Salling.
These men who people trusted, abused that trust and they bring a bad name to all men everywhere.
I recently watched all 150 women’s victim impact statements during Larry Nassar’s sentencing. These young women as young as 6 years old were molested by their doctor. Some with their parents in the room! I am outraged. Outraged with this man, outraged with the system that enabled him for two decades of assault, outraged with the parents that didn't listen to their children and sent them back to him multiple times.
I’m completely outraged that this exact example has confirmed everything my mother has warned me about. I am outraged because, why is it my responsibility as a young girl to guard myself so heavily against all men I encounter? And it doesn’t matter what age these men are, younger than me, older than me the same age as me, I’m scared to be in a room with them alone even if all the signs point towards them being good samaritans.
I personally have not experienced sexual assault unlike many that I know, but similarly just being fed the information of what any man has the power to do, has taken away my innocence. Just like black people and the police. White people are capable of having that blind faith in federal enforcement, but my race, is awarded a dark and jaded judgement. It forces me to honestly think, “who do I call when I’m in danger?”.
Watching those impact statements may have made my cautiousness worse, but it’s also made me realize that there is so much more to fear around sexual assault then the physical abuser. All those higher up people who knew and did nothing to help those young women; if not equally; are worse than that diseased man [Larry Nassar].
And this is where I feel like as a country we’ve run into a problem. Many crimes in the criminal justice system, not only look at the evidence of those who committed the actual crime but those who enabled it as well. For example, the murder and the one who buried the body or the bank robber and the one who drove the getaway car. But the only people who seem to be tried during a sexual assault case is the abuser and get this, THE VICTIM! I can’t help but think; what about those parents that neglected their 12 year old children or Michigan State University who were served over 20 accounts of sexual assault claims and did nothing about it?
Those people aren’t being held accountable for their actions and it sets the precedent that you can get away with this kind of stuff. Brock Turner who raped that girl and got 3 months of jail time and was set free, what sort of example is that? It proves that America as a country still believes that bodies, women’s bodies in particular are just sexual objects and a commodity.
Not just men, but America as a Country has a problem with valuing life that isn’t the white man. And I am one of few who recognize that it’s not just men, but women who are also at fault. Some women lie or some women like Lou Simon, now former president of Michigan State University who did nothing about the claims against Larry Nassar except stick them in a manila folder are digressive. But that is why equality is so complex in this Country. One specific example and one generalization already makes “feminism” sounds like a curse word.
Yet all the men I specifically mentioned don't bring half as much shame onto their species as the women do. Even, I, as outraged as I am; am trying to find empathy and compassion with the good men that there are in this world, because there must be some of them, right?
I’m confused and tired of trying to wrap my head around sexual assault because not only is it my fear to be sexually assaulted but I’m fearful of being a victim that will have to suffer a plethora of consequences and blame for being sexually assaulted.
This all starts around the lack of equality between all people, but it ends with determining who is more valuable to the system of capitalism. Is it the white men in these cases who committed the crime or all those young women who now have to suffer. Lou Simon sure thought Larry Nassar was more valuable. Hollywood sure thought Harvey Weinstein was more valuable.
The criminal justice system sure thought Brock Turner was more valuable. Mark Salling, who cowardly committed suicide instead of confronting his mistakes was far more valuable than his victims who get no retribution now because of his pathetic apology for being caught. Why would I or others like me, invaluable in comparison be the ones who the have to live with the scars on our psyche.