Put the blame for sexual abuse where it belongs: on men

Put the blame for sexual abuse where it belongs: on men

No, I’m not just talking about Harvey Weinstein, as appalling and repulsive the allegations against him are. I’m not just talking about the laundry list of other bigwig pork, including Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes.

I’m talking about you. The average American man. The guy who, perhaps, never did a thing remotely considered to be sexual harassment or abuse but was aware certain “things” were going on but didn’t do a thing to stop it.

The magnitude of the Harvey Weinstein scandal is almost beyond belief—the length of time the alleged abuse went on, the ugly and salacious details, the scores of gorgeous, household-name actresses whom Weinstein took advantage, wielding his power to make or break a career.

But what really is shocking is the massive response from ordinary women--not those in the limelight, when actress Alyssa Milano asked women to write the words “Me too” on Twitter if they’d been sexually harassed or assaulted. Within hours, the "me too" tweets grew to 200,000, along with countless Facebook comments, one "me too" after another after another.

My guess is there are probably more women who’ve been sexually harassed or abused than haven’t. I'm one of them. Last Sunday, my sister asked me if I’d ever experienced either one, and I immediately said no. But it wasn't the truth.

I must have buried it so deeply it didn’t register right away. I had to think about it a while before I remembered I'd been victimized many times. The most blatant incident happened when I was 14 and a sicko masturbated in front of me while waiting on an empty train platform at 53rd Street in Hyde Park.

Other gross and disturbing events followed. Here are some of the things that were said or done to to me.

*A relative cornered me and pressed his genitals against mine.

*A commercial photographer told me it was necessary to have nude pictures taken if I wanted to be a fashion model.

*A crusty improv teacher said nasty things to me after I rebuffed him.

*A friend’s boyfriend came over to my apartment late one night, pushed me down on the bed and laid on top of me. I was lucky. He was too drunk to do anything and left.

*While on my early morning walk, a bald, stocky man suddenly jumped off his bike and came within 10 feet of me. Someone opened the front door and the guy quickly got back on the bike and pedaled away.

Screenwriter Scott Rosenthal wrote a brutally honest Facebook post about how  "everybody fucking knew," and by everybody he meant Hollywood elites, including himself, what was going on with Weinstein, although not the rapes.

I think some of you know/knew things, too. Maybe not extreme, egregious acts, but somewhere along the line of growing up and becoming an adult you knew everything was not quite Kosher when it came to how boys and men treat girls and women.

I think you knew it was wrong when a boy in your class snapped a girl’s bra or copped a feel without her permission or made loud, vulgar comments to a female walking down the street.

Maybe you weren’t the one doing it, but you might have been with someone who did or knew someone who did, and you either laughed about it later with your friends or didn’t do anything.

Of course, we girls and women usually didn’t say anything either, but that was because no one was listening. And if they were, we were told it was our fault. For wearing too a short skirt. Or too tight or low a top. Or for having the audacity to have been born with breasts.

It’s not going to stop with the Harvey Weinstein revelation. But the media has our attention at the moment, and perhaps, there will be less of this awfulness occurring.

What else needs to happen? It will take someone smarter than me to figure it all out. But I think it starts at home. Mothers and, especially, fathers of boys need to do a better job of instilling their sons with respect for women.

And, by the way, is that even a thing? Tell me, please. Do parents of boys even have these conversations? I get that boys (and girls) have raging hormones. But boys need to understand it’s not okay to lie to girls, telling them they love them just to get into their pants.

That it’s not okay to share naked photos of a girl on social media who was naive enough to believe the boy who told her no one else would would see them.

That “no means no” and "see something, say something" are not cliches but the truth.

That girls have feelings and that boys can either hurt or help girls by their actions or inactions.

These conversations should be a given, along with don’t play in traffic or with matches.

We all know knowledge is power so girls and women be armed knowing this: Some men are dogs, no matter how smart, funny, good-looking, educated, rich or powerful they are. I would venture to say there are more of these guys around than we originally thought, judging by the number of  “me, too” responses. 

I don’t mean to paint all men with one broad stroke, but ladies, understand men are very different creatures from us. It’s mostly men who start wars. Who give women date rape drugs. Who support the more than $97 million worldwide dollar porn industry, some of it degrading and abusive to us.

No, not all men are bad. But the righteous among you need to do better.

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  • Well said and necessary. Men need to say this also.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Thanks so much, Dennis.

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    You are blaming men? That is as bad as a stereotype I have ever witnessed.

  • I had to share and tweet this one

  • In reply to Bob Schneider:

    Thank you, Bob!

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    This post is very shocking. We would never say that its all blacks who are responsible for crime....or that we should blame all women for child abuse (as most child abuse stems from women). There is a societal hatred for men and a gynocentric love affair with women and girls. If we as a society want to start transforming to the next phase of evolution we need to stop casting hate and start spreading more love.

  • In reply to JoeFromLake:

    The headline may be shocking. But did you read the whole post? What's shocking to me is how many women have been sexually harassed or abused. Thanks for reading.

  • I have to agree. Very often I'm ashamed of my own gender!

  • Behavior and morals start at home. Most homes do not support any black and white absolutes anymore. Many homes are missing fathers. The problem with lack of respect is that nobody demands it. The people who have done the loudest preaching about the sexual abuse of women in Hollywood and in pop culture are often as guilty as sin. Yet women and men will support their late night TV shows (Jimmy Kimmel), admire politicians who assault women, Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy and so nobody takes it seriously.

    Now consider this. I was raped as a child by a boy who was 14. I was seven. I didn't even know what happened. He was the son of a family friend. If you think it is hard for a girl or a woman to come forward, it is doubly hard for a boy or young man. Why? Because even today the authorities don't really care. I know where this POS is, and it takes every effort I have yet not to go and kill him.

    BTW, you do seem to be blaming all men. I was a victim,and I don't.

  • That's just awful about what happened to you as a child. I can't even imagine how hard it was/is to deal with...Yes, the headline was harsh, but I was just making the point that if men saw or heard something resembling sexual harassment or abuse it's allowing it all to continue. Thanks for reading.

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    This is not a happy story. I thought that in the 1960's and1970's we equalized the relationships between men and women. I became a fervent supporter of Women's Lib.

    But in the 1980's popular media promoted a lesser view of women in "Valley Girls" and by the "All in the Family" character Archie Bunker, which I blame for an ever deminishing view of women in the home or workforce. The popular book "Men Are From Mars, Women Are from Venus" also changed the landscape.

    By 1990 every corporate employee was educated in the rules of propper inter-sexual conduct. But in the upper echelon of power and money, I guess that provided no restraint.

    So here we are today, and as Reggae legend Bob Marley sang: "Get Up, Stand Up for Your Rights" just like 50 years ago.

  • In reply to Bruce Oltman:

    You bet, Bruce! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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