I’m sure most of you are aware that Times “Person of the year” is those taking a stand against sexual assault with the #MeToo movement. Over the last year or two, sexual misconduct has been a topic of interest. It’s been in the limelight, but it’s not anything new.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment are, sadly, things that many people accept as a given. But it’s not. It doesn’t have to be. Buy let’s back up. What is sexual assault and sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is an unwanted sexual advancement. It can be physical or verbal in nature. Sexual assault is unwanted, intentional (or attempted) physical touch. The thing to remember is that both of these are unwanted. And the definitions I gave are basic, generic definitions. The thing is, people have different opinions on everything, therefore different definitions. Think about it, it took a long time for people to recognize that you could rape your spouse, but that’s a post for next week…probably.
It breaks my heart that people have to go through this and it breaks my heart that there are many situations that hinder people from coming forward. But I understand why people don’t say anything.
Too often survivors get blamed. They get blamed that it happened and blamed that they didn’t come forward sooner. What you wear and where you go does not put you more at risk. But too many people think “she’s asking for it” because her outfit is she’s showing a lot of skin.
And that’s another thing. I said she, but it’s not only females who are victims of sexual assault. People rarely think about the men who survive. People look at them as weak. But they’re not.
Sexual assault is about power and control. So it’s not surprising to me how many of the accused perpetrators are people in power, people with authority and value in their field. And when the person is in a position of power over you, it’s harder to say something or to be heard when you do.
You’ve heard of all the pay offs, some of them the company was paying people off. To think, a company would rather keep it’s big name exec or star than to protect it’s smaller name employee. It’s said, but we value productivity and we protect our brand.
What we need to do is support our survivors. Yes it’s possible that not everyone who claims something happened is being honest, but most people wouldn’t lie about it.
What we need to do is teach the next generations that it’s not acceptable. That you can’t pass something off as “locker room talk” or use biblical references to Mary and Joseph as reasoning for dating a teen when in your thirties (or whatever age he was).
We need to stop using what decade we grew up in as an excuse for our behavior. We need to take responsibility for our actions. We need to respect each other. We need to stop making people feel little to make ourselves feel better. We need to let go of our desire for control in all aspects of life. It’s okay to not be in control or feel in control at all times.
We don’t need to assert our dominance over others. If we do that, we will move backwards instead of making progress. We need to speak up if we see it. We need to stand together, not fall apart.
Next week I will probably throw together something about intimate partner sexual assault and violence. I’ll talk to you lovelies next week.