By Ricci Levy
I started to write what would, I’m sure, have been a fabulous post about the allegations of sexual violations and what our responses might be. Then, almost at the final edits, I read an article by Kate Harding titled “I’m a feminist. I study rape culture. And I don’t want Al Franken to resign.”
Among the many powerful, articulate, common-sense comments in the piece, Kate says: “According to the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 1 in 3 women experiences some sort of contact sexual violence in her life. Sexual harassment and assault are simply too widespread for Democrats to respond to Franken’s offense with only Franken in mind: We need to respond in a way that helps us develop a protocol for meaningful change.”
By the time I got to the end of the piece I knew that she had said everything I was writing about and she had said it in a way that was mirroring my feelings. And Kate offers a path forward – and it’s a good path. It’s one I can support 100%. So why re-invent the wheel, right?
Also from the article: “But in a sharply divided political climate where toxic masculinity knows no party, yet is only ever acknowledged by one, we must think about how to minimize harm to women. One more empty apology and resignation, one more head on a pike, will not make American women safer or better off. Powerful men lifting up women’s concerns and supporting progressive women candidates, however, could be a real step toward changing the culture that makes victims of so many of us.”
In the meantime, though, there is something I still do want to say. Those who are being accused didn’t come forward on their own to talk about the (alleged) violations. They were each accused by someone (which led, in almost every case, to others coming forward).
With one exception.
There is one sexual abuser who claimed his sexual abuse with pride, recounting the lurid details and laughing at the fact that his victims had no choice but to accept the abuse, the violation of their human right to sexual freedom, their personal autonomy. And that man was elected President of the United States….our Abuser In Chief. And lest you think that it was other men who pushed him into the position, 53% of white women voted for this sexual predator, for this sexual abuser. What does that say about the way we view sexual abuse when the perpetrator is an (assumed) straight, white, wealthy man? It says it’s just not that important to all those women who voted for him, and for all those men with wives, sisters, mothers, children, who also affirmed sexual violence as “not a deal breaker” with their votes.
Any decisions we make, by vote, prosecution or public outcry against the flood of exposed abusers, every conversation and every post, has to include the name of the man in the White House, because he is as guilty as every other person named in these accusations. And we have that from him – with disgraceful pride at the crimes he committed.
#AbuserInChief is the hashtag I propose. Let’s make it go viral!