I was planning to write a post on victim-blaming and shaming some time soon because of what’s going on in the world and because they’re issues at the forefront of my mind and my upcoming novel. I wasn’t planning to write that post today. Until I saw the piece on MSN this morning about comments Donald Trump Jr. made a few years ago on the Opie and Anthony show. To quote, “I’m sure I’ll get myself in trouble one of these days — but like, if you can’t handle some of the basic stuff that’s become a problem in the workforce today, like you don’t belong in the workforce. Like, you should go maybe teach kindergarten. I think it’s a respectable position.” That “basic stuff” he’s talking about is harassment.
So, let me get this straight, Trump Sr. and Jr., men should be allowed to harass women. They should be allowed to walk in on them naked, grope them, force their verbal and physical attentions on them simply because they’re out and about where these things can happen and if they don’t like it they shouldn’t be out? Certainly not in the workforce where they might interact with men? Um, no.
Not just no, but HELL no.
This has gone on long enough. From rapists like Brock Turner (notice I did NOT call him the Stanford Swimmer, as the media persisted in doing) getting only six months for his crime to his father, who thought that was “a steep price to pay for twenty minutes of action” to the judge who worried that a harsher penalty would have a severe impact on the poor lad, it’s clear that rape culture is alive and well. Let’s be clear, it was not “twenty minutes of action”. It was rape. It was a violation. One that will have physical and emotional repercussions throughout the woman’s life.
Let me continue to be clear: drunkenness is not consent. Fashion choices, location, time of day or night are not consent. NOTHING BUT CONSENT IS CONSENT. Anything else is assault or rape, depending on how far it goes. It is not okay.
Neither is intimidation. If you creep someone out by standing too close, blocking their exit or making unwelcome advances, no matter how flattered you think we should feel, we’re not being oversensitive, YOU’RE BEING AN ASS. At best. At worst you’re an actual creeper and we’re absolutely right to be concerned. All the best men understand this. Luckily, I know a lot of amazing men. But I’ve encountered the creepers, more times than I’d care to count.
And that bullying, that intimidation, that blaming the victim, is what keeps so many from speaking up. All of the sudden it becomes the victim on trial, the implication being “what did you do to provoke the attack?” Does anyone ask what someone did to provoke a mugging? Or a hit and run? Or identity theft? Do we villainize or doubt the people who report those crimes? No, we don’t.
Unfortunately, so many people, men and women, who are victims of assault don’t speak up. They’ve already been abused. They don’t want to invite more. They don’t want to relieve the experience. They certainly don’t want the continued abuse of the haters and deniers.
We don’t need to retire ourselves from the public eye so that we never risk being abused. We need to fight back. We need to speak and support. And we need to reject rhetoric like this and the underlying assumption that it’s anywhere in the vicinity of okay.
(*If you or anyone you know needs help or support due to any sort of abuse or PTSD from this election, here’s a page of resources.)