In these post-Harvey Weinstein days with the #MeToo backlash against the men who have sexually abused them, women are speaking out after decades of simmering anger, resigned silence, and injury that never completely heals.
Men who used their positions of power to rob a child of her innocence or ruin a young woman’s career or deprive her of her livelihood are now losing their own jobs and being stripped of the power they used to coerce those women to indulge their lechery. Celebrity no longer shields Hollywood’s power elite or media moguls. They are disgraced and unceremoniously kicked off their pedestals.
But there is one group of men that still insists on blaming the victim. Every male Republican officeholder who doesn’t plan to resign insists on qualifying his disapproval of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s abuse (“if true”) of an underage girl. (Moore has the dubious distinction of having been removed from the bench twice as Alabama Chief Justice for defying federal law and the Constitution.)
“If true“? What kind of proof do they need? A stained dress hidden in a closet, uncleaned, for years? These men don’t understand that it’s not about proof. They don’t get that it’s about acknowledging women as full persons in their own right and according them even more respect than they’d give to a man, because women’s reputations are more easily sullied. It takes courage to reveal sexual violation.
Alabama Republicans rebut Moore’s accusers. A sampling: “Total contrived media garbage” (former chairman of the Mobile County Republican Party John Skipper); “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.” State Auditor Jim Ziegler— invoking the Bible in defense of a pedophile.
Some men are apologizing. Louis C.K. released a brutally honest statement in which he admits to everything his accusers describe and expresses what sounds like genuine remorse for taking advantage of his power and for the hurt he caused. Other men, like Roy Moore, who fondled, groped and leered at women, who taunted them with lascivious language or exposed themselves and coerced women to witness lewd acts, deny the charges. Some, like Donald Trump, minimize and dismiss them as “locker room talk.”
These men don’t understand that even if a woman has no tangible proof of abuse, her hurt and shame persist years later. They don’t understand that more enlightened men now accept that a woman is raped because of her attacker’s depravity, not the tightness of her dress or the length of leg showing beneath it.
Perhaps they will begin to see the light when they notice women like Democrat Laura Curran triumphing over the entrenched male Republican establishment. Curran and other Democrats swept into office last week in strongly Republican Nassau County, NY. In New Jersey, Republican John Carman’s dismissive tweet in which he wondered if the Women’s March would be “over in time for them to cook dinner” provoked so much anger in Ashley Bennett that she decided to run for office. In her first-ever electoral race, the Democrat wiped out the incumbent Republican Carman.
Wake up and smell the coffee, Republicans. Women are on the march and they are angry.