As I write this post, more women are coming forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against film mogul Harvey Weinstein. The story is gaining traction. We say it’s about time! No more cultures of acceptance. No more silently compliant and complicit cultures.
Read about the allegations against Weinstein here.
“But I Don’t Want to Choose Sides.” Too Late, You Just Did.
There is no “other side” when it comes to sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual abuse. There’s no area of gray. Where a person (male or female) intentionally, wantonly, and knowingly aggresses on another in a sexual manner (with lewd intent) without the other’s consent, the person commits sexual assault. Point blank. Done.
Yes, the accused should have due process. But that’s not what’s at issue here. Cultures of acceptance arise where the accused has been afforded proper due process. In these cases, defendants often admit their crimes only to have society excuse, minimize, and rationalize criminal conduct by applying broad gender stereotypes and generalizations.
The issue is ripe, and it’s not about politics. Whether the offender is the Republican President of the United States or the Democrat film mogul funneling monies into the Democratic party, the offender is criminal where he commits the elements of these crimes, and the offender, regardless of job, title, or connections, should be held accountable for the offense the same as any other citizen.
Cultural Collusion – Are You Unconsciously Enabling Sex Offenders?
A refresher? These should be common sense, but, unfortunately, common sense isn’t always so common. All persons living in civil society should agree on these:
- Sexual harassment, nonconsensual sexual touching, sexual abuse of vulnerable victims (a scheme of abuse against children, incapacitated individuals, mentally incompetent persons, etc.), attempted rape, rape–ALL of these are wrong from a legal perspective (read the United States Department of Justice definitions here). All are wrong from a moral perspective. All are wrong from an ethical perspective. And ALL are certainly wrong from a Judeo-Christian perspective (read “Why are So Many Evangelicals Condoning Sexual Assault?” discussing the new, Machiavellian ethics of some Evangelicals).
- A person who aggresses in any of the above behaviors should be held accountable. (Read the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence’s “Community Management” recommendations here.)
- A victim of any of the above acts should NOT be held accountable in any way. (Read about victim blaming at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention..
- A victim of any of the above acts must often speak out to END the acts. He or she SHOULD be supported, not shamed, by his or her community.
- Silencing, interrogating, and judging victims who speak to end the above traumatic acts does NOT show support. These elicit SHAME. (Read how community blaming adversely affects victims’ health in U.S. News’ “The Psychological Impact of Victim-Blaming – And How to Stop It.”)
- A person who enjoys touching or assaulting sleeping victims–for the very reason that they are taking advantage of another in a vulnerable state–is DANGEROUS. This is textbook predatory behavior. Cat and mouse. (Researches have found this a typical “deviant sexual arousal, interest, or preference” among sexual offenders, and link such preference to recidivism.)
- Under retributive theory, “punishment” is to correct past behaviors. But not all accountability is retributive in theory. Under deterrence theories, accountability is used to deter repeated or future offenses. In order for a person to stop offending, the cost must outweigh the benefit the criminal receives from committing the crime. (Read more about Adult Sex Offender Recidivism here.)
- When a person or a community knows of a danger, the person or community should take reasonable precautions to warn others of that danger. It is unreasonable–and possibly criminal–to hide, cover, conceal, or ignore that danger. It is also incredibly naïve. (Read “Sexual Abuse Issues in the Church; Raising the Bar.”)
- The above aggressive behaviors are crimes against other persons, not simply “sins” committed against oneself or God. The above crimes are not on par with (1) premarital sex (consensual act); (2) adultery (consensual act); (3) homosexuality (consensual relationship that is NOT a crime as same-sex marriage is legal nationwide). (Read “What Christians Get Wrong About Sexual Abuse,” then read “‘Just a Little Touching’: My Own Pastor Excused My Sexual Assault.”)
- If you find yourself defending an offender with a “Yeah, but…” statement, you need to stop, pause, and reflect over why you would ever, in any capacity, defend acts that should never be defended. The above acts are wrong. Dead wrong. Lake of fire wrong. Stop trying to make them right. They aren’t. (Read more here.)
- A victim should never be made to feel ashamed for speaking about what happened to him or her, not what happened by him or her. If you find yourself feeling angry, edgy, tense, anxious, fearful, defensive, or any other irrational emotion, simply because another rational person is speaking in honesty and truth, do not suggest a crime victim “get therapy” and “deal privately.” Who are you? Beyonce? Mariah Carey? No. If you have an unreasonable issue, YOU need therapy, not the crime victim.
- There’s no such thing as “boys will be boys” or “girls will be girls.” Nothing a girl wears causes a male to grope, molest, harass, or rape her. Girls are assaulted and raped in baggy clothes, sweatshirts, pajamas. And the overwhelming majority of males do NOT grope, molest, harass, or rape. It’s insulting to all males to suggest otherwise. (Read on the role gender plays in violence here.)
- Sex crimes are about power. Victims are stripped of all power–all control. They need to reclaim balance. It doesn’t matter where the person speaks. It doesn’t matter when the person speaks. That person’s (unwanted) experience isn’t about you. It isn’t yours to decide. It isn’t yours to control. If you attempt to control another person’s experience, you WILL harm the victim more. If you can’t help but stick your nose in that person’s business, then how about you do something good? How about you actually stand by, support, and protect the crime victim? Do something to help the crime victim, instead of acting in a manner to cause more harm.
- Finally, if you find yourself struggling to understand or accept any of these above refreshers, go see a therapist who specializes with sex crimes victims. Don’t take my word for it–take the above points with you to a professional in the field. Get educated. Read any and all of the links above.