Me Too – Why we are silent

In the past year we have seen the Bill Cosby scandal, the Fox CEO Roger Aile scandal, and now, the more recent Harvey Weinstein scandal. The hashtag #metoo has been garnering loads of attention since the Weinstein scandal hit the news. The dam has broken and the rolling tide of Me Too has become a force of its own.

Social media has been inundated with the two simple words, “Me Too” to emphasize how many women have had issues. I am seeing men respond, “Well, men get harassed and abused, too.” They do but not even close to the magnitude that women are. Since I am not a man, I can only speak to the women’s issue. This issue has been pervasive in society and swept under the rug for generation upon generation.

I had to sit back and ask myself, why now? Why is all of this coming to the forefront now? It has been happening for generations. Why have we not spoken before?Small minorities have, but a larger majority has been silent because of the repercussions of speaking the truth.

Here are some of the reasons I believe no one speaks up about their abuse and harassment. I am not going to go into detail about each of these reasons, but if you care to research further, there are plenty of women with stories that can back up my assertions.

Women are victims of the “good old boy” network. If you do not believe this, do your research. Articles abound with case studies on this very issue.[1]  Many women have been propositioned at work, have had sly innuendos made about their sexual lives, and have been inappropriately touched. And many of the men who work with them, even while they do not participate in the behavior, have never spoken out on their behalf. Just as in the Weinstein case there has been complicit silence for fear of retaliation.

Women are victimized even when they have met the burden of proof.[2]  I have a female cousin who filed a lawsuit for sexual harassment in the work place and won. Unfortunately, after the case was over she lost her job and the man who was the perpetrator was actually given a promotion. As in the case of Anita Hill, many women who make the accusation against a male are in turn made out to be liars and attention seekers.

Women are told it is their fault if someone comes on to them. I have never heard anyone accuse a man for being assaulted because of what they chose to wear, but I hear women’s assault blamed because of the way they dress a lot! I have heard many talks in the church on how women need to dress modestly and not “tempt” a man, but I have rarely heard a talk about how a man needs to control his sexual urges and take responsibility for his thoughts and actions. Inevitably, when a woman brings forth the truth about a man’s improper advances she is asked what she did to encourage him! She may just have given a friendly smile and wham!, she is accused of encouraging his lust.

Women feel the weight of shame and sorrow. Many women who have become victims think they could have prevented the abuse if they had done something differently. They feel ashamed that they gave in to the abuser because they knew if they didn’t the cost would be high. I cannot tell you how many victims I have talked with who started with the sentence, “If only I . . .,” taking the blame on to themselves for someone else’s sin.

Women are not given support when they make an accusation of sexual misconduct. In fact, many women are called liars and vilified when they bring forth a true accusation against a popular sports figure or a popular star like Bill Cosby. When Rachel Denhollander spoke up about her sexual abuse during her time with USA Gymnastics’ she was vulnerable and alone in her position. She was one of the first to speak publicly about her abuse by Larry Nassar. However, as the truth came out, she found that she was one of many victims.

Women are the victims of those who are complicit in “closing ranks” among themselves. Many times other people know what is happening around them, but refuse to hold the perpetrator accountable for his actions. The reasons are many and varied, but mostly it is out of fear that their status will change. Power is a huge motivator in keeping silent about assault. Screenwriter Scott Rosenthal, wrote a read-worthy blog post about his silence about the issue.[3]

I hope I am seeing a cultural shift in our attitudes and complacency about sexual abuse and harassment in society. Surely the recent scandals that have happened in the past few years should help us understand the magnitude of the issue. Women have always known and unfortunately, have accepted that “is the way it is.” I think we are seeing a generation that has decided they are not going to settle for the status quo and are going to hold people accountable for their actions.

It makes me sad that the church hasn’t led the way in this change. We need to be truth bearers. We need to stand up for the rights of the victims of this kind of assault. We need to be the voices for the voiceless–the children, women, and men who are victimized by trafficking, pornography, sexual assault, and harassment. We need to hold others accountable for the way they treat women in the workplace and in their careers. Sometimes I think that Jesus must be weeping tears of sorrow for the pain that all of these victims share.

I am one of the “Me Too.” Sexually abused as a child, it took years for me to tell anyone my story. I am one of the lucky ones. I met Jesus and He offered me love, hope and healing. I felt cleansed the day I gave my life to Him. It is my prayer that we can reach all of the “me too” women out there and give them hope for a better future.

 

[1] Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Harassment by Margaret Gardiner https://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-gardiner/why-women-dont-report-sex_b_11112996.html

[2] Why We Fail to Report Sexual Harassment by Stefanie K. Johnson, Jessica Kirk, and Ksenia Keplinger, October 04, 2016 , https://hbr.org/2016/10/why-we-fail-to-report-sexual-harassment

[3] Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg says he knew all about Harvey Weinstein — and so did everyone else. https://www.msn.com/en-us/movies/celebrity/screenwriter-scott-rosenberg-says-he-knew-all-about-harvey-weinstein-%e2%80%94-and-so-did-everyone-else/ar-AAtC3yO?li=BBnb7Kz

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