This editorial is one part in a two-part series offering different perspectives on Brett Kavanaugh and the #MeToo Movement. Read the counter-perspective: “If Kavanaugh Confirmation Is Derailed The Future Of Men Goes With It“
There is a fear now that a simple allegation of any kind of sexual impropriety can derail a man’s career and innocent men will be taken down by the unhinged destruction of a #MeToo movement gone rogue.
Time’s are changing and things are scary, like all change is. All of us, every one of us, male or female, young or old, homosexual or heterosexual are learning to look at our sexual and interpersonal relationships in a different light.
But the cultural shift that is happening towards creating healthier relationships and “the future is female” mantra doesn’t mean that women are out to get you, men. It’s not about “getting men” and tearing them down, it’s about lifting women up.
Sure there are some very angry women who do want to tear men down, but there are also very angry men who want to tear women down and there are very angry people who hate short people or red-haired people or black people or white people or overweight people and so on.
You can find extremists everywhere, and unfortunately, our media loves to play up the extremist notions because that is what sells views, clicks, and shares. So first please understand the difference between fringe extremists or even moderates expressing moments of anger and what the #meToo movement is actually about. I am pretty moderate but trust me there are times I’ve said, “Ugh, can’t we just get rid of men” as I’m sure many moderate and good men have said, “Ugh, can’t we just get rid of women.”
So there are going to be those extremists and there are going to be those moments of societal outbursts and an airing out of frustration that has been suppressed for decades, if not the thousands of years that men have run the world.
But if you sat down and talked to sexual assault survivors one on one or women who believe in the #MeToo movement but aren’t necessarily survivors. They’d say likely say the #MeToo movement is about creating a better world for girls and boys. A place where boys and girls interact and respect each other, love each other, can exhibit kindness towards each other and where sex isn’t something that a man must prove he is capable of getting and a woman must prove that she is desired for.
But I get it, you are seeing men everywhere falling from grace – some are blatant repeated sexual offenders and the crimes of others seem more iffy, so I presume it feels kind of terrifying to suddenly wonder if you did something that hurt someone or maybe you should even be in jail for.
In order to understand what is happening with the #MeToo movement, you have to understand how huge of a problem sexual assault is in our lifetime.
Statistics Show Sexual Assualt is a Major Problem in Society
Let’s establish some ground rules and get some facts straight. Multiple studies report anywhere from 47 to 94 percent of incarcerated women are survivors of sexual abuse of some form. In this study, 59 percent of male inmates at a Texas jail were survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I know people that have been in those jails and they told me everyone in there was a survivor of sexual abuse.
Seventy percent of homeless youth have been physically or sexually assaulted. In one Florida study, 78.3 percent of homeless women had experienced rape, physical assault and/or stalking in their lifetime.
The WHO reported that sexual assault victims are 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol and 26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
However, another study also found some reports are incorrectly labeled as false because of delayed reporting, victim indifference to injuries, vagueness, or victim’s attempt to steer away from unsafe details, suspect description, or location of offense.
Studies aren’t perfect, and unfortunately it’s hard to find studies on male survivors of sexual assault but if you think we have a homeless problem in our country, if you think our jails are overcrowded, if you think we lose too many lives to drug problems, suicide and mental illness then it’s time to acknowledge we have a massive sexual assault problem in our country and probably in the world.
(Domestic violence is also a massive problem, but for the sake of this article we are focusing on sexual assault.)
Nobody Wants to Talk About Sexual Assault
Why has such a massive problem persisted for so long? Because nobody wants to talk about it.
Nobody wants to wake up and one day go to their friend and say, “Hey guess what happened to me last night, I was raped!… Now, I’m a victim and I get tell everyone about it and tell the police who raped me and take him or her to trial.”
We all imagine that if we were the victim of a crime, we would march over to the police full of anger and indignity and tell them exactly what happened and who did it. That’s what we would do if we were robbed and so we think we’d do that if we were sexually assaulted.
Have you ever sat down and told the police your sexual history? Who you had sex with or who you made out with? How far you went with someone, in really graphic detail? Do you like to go to the doctor where they examine your genitals as part of a health exam, what if they took pictures too of your genitals while doing that? Do you want to tell your mom about your sex life?
But mostly it’s the shame that completely overwhelms you after being sexually assaulted. Psychologically, sexual assault is incredibly complex. It would take way too long to explain the complex psychological processes that occur after a rape, but every survivor I’ve known (and that’s a lot) blames themselves after a rape.
Rape survivors who are kidnapped and taken to remote areas and raped blame themselves, rape survivors who are raped by their boyfriend or husband or friend’s friend blame themselves. Rape survivors who are drugged or unconscious or drunk or beaten or are kids and so on all blame themselves.
Self-blame creates overwhelming shame, and that is why people don’t make accusations right after a crime happened. Most people don’t want to think about it. Something awful happened to them, something confusing and painful and they just want to forget it, but psychologically it stays under the surface and creates more problems until it is dealt with.
So people don’t talk about it until many years later when they finally start dealing with problems in their life. That is why allegations surface years and decades later, not because someone just wants to ruin someone else’s career and now they have an opportune moment too.
Let’s get rid of this blaming victims for not coming forward years earlier. They couldn’t come forward years earlier because they were just trying to survive the experience by not thinking about it.
Understanding Brett Kavanaugh and Sexual Assault
In looking at the Brett Kavanaugh’s situation, did his accuser come forward because he is being nominated to the Supreme Court? Yes, she did, and she most likely did it because she feels an extreme sense of obligation to tell her fellow Americans about inappropriate behavior she experienced from a man about to be appointed to a position that can influence our nation’s history.
Did she do it because she’s a Democrat and he’s a conservative? Maybe, but all of the sexual assault survivors I know hate their attackers whether they are Democrat or Republican and would not want their perpetrator nominated to the Supreme Court regardless of what party they are.
Did she make up the encounter? It’s possible, statistically, there’s a two to seven percent chance she did. Let’s say the chance she did is even higher, then let that all come to light. Let any other evidence or lack of evidence come to light, but you can’t dismiss her allegations because of their timing or because of her political party.
If you want to address the massive problems of homelessness, drug abuse, overcrowded jails, mental illness, then you have to start treating sexual assault with seriousness and finally, our country is starting to do that.
You are seeing men (and some women) fall from grace everywhere because the problem is huge, not because the movement is recklessly tearing through innocent men. Sometimes it’s clear that men like Cosby or Weinstein should be taken down.
Other times it’s more confusing like with Aziz Ansari or Al Franken. I personally don’t think Franken needed to resign but that was his choice. The #MeToo movement is about demanding the end to sexual violence and an improvement in gender relations, the consequences of allegations are left for society to decide.
Will One Sexual Assault Allegation Ruin You?
So what about all of those men who are now afraid that one allegation will ruin them or afraid that something they did in the past that they didn’t know was wrong is now wrong?
Chances are incredibly slim a false allegation will be made against you. Sexual crimes are typically committed by repeat offenders. The epidemic is a minority of people getting away with lots of sexual crimes, not a majority of people inadvertently committing sexual crimes.
Chances are you did not inadvertently sexually assault someone. You don’t accidentally rape someone. You don’t accidentally pin someone down and cover their mouth so they can’t make noise while you force yourself on them.
Maybe you did slap a girls ass when you shouldn’t have or maybe she was fine with it, or maybe you pushed too much for a girl to do a little more than you knew she wanted. The point is women know the difference between a guy being a jerk or annoyance and a guy sexually assaulting her.
If the #MeToo movement now frames your past behavior as being a jerk, then just say you’re sorry and now you know better. Both men and women now are understanding sexual relations differently and know better.
If you don’t know how to think of your past behavior, ask them or ask others what they think of it.
If you realize you have been forcing yourself on women who didn’t want it or were incapable of resisting then now is your time to get some help and deal with why.
What Should Happen to Kavanaugh?
As for Kavanaugh either he didn’t do anything or he did. If he did hold a young woman down and cover her mouth while trying to force himself on her when they were teenagers should he not be a Supreme Court justice?
I don’t know, but I do know there are many men who in high school had positive and loving relationships with girlfriends. There were men in high school who brought girls flowers and invited them to the prom. Maybe for a Supreme Court justice position, we could pick one of those men?
If Kavanaugh isn’t confirmed to the Supreme Court because of the accusation against him, it doesn’t mean the downfall of men, it just means we are finally starting to say we can and should do better.