Current news stories with allegations of sexual assault cropping up from Hollywood to Westminster are disturbing in many ways.

Even more so are many of the reactions.

I take issue with a whole bunch of issues.

 

Language. The terminology we use to talk about such events is part of the problem.

Here’s an example: Witch hunt.

How can exposing a selection of bullying individuals and the organisations which supported their abusive behaviour be a witch hunt? Bullying individuals and controlling powers conducted the actual witch-hunts, blaming women for anything and everything they could not explain.

Women, drowned or burned as witches, were victims of the equivalent of today’s tabloid hysteria. A witch hunt is a mob seeking to root out an innocent. The men shown up and shamed these last few weeks were anything but innocent.

Responsibility. These harassers, abusers and rapists did not act alone. Supported by their studios, companies, assistants and a culture of complicity, these men continued their arrogant, greedy search for gratification behind a protective screen. Sure, the powerful employer could fire you, which would be so much worse than backing out of a hotel room leaving a young wo/man to suffer sexual assault.

Get Over It. Anyone who states ‘Don’t claim #metoo if you only got your bum pinched’ should spend a week in a woman’s shoes. Many of us grew up with Carry On films and the Benny Hill Show and the socially accepted normalisation of ‘men just can’t help it’ and fought our way out of that uncomfortable tolerance.

Men can, and do help themselves (in both senses). Imposing yourself physically on a person who says no, whether that’s a kiss, a touch or sexual assault is all part of a sliding scale. Other people’s bodies are not your property, no matter how important you are.

Mental health. The inability to stop forcing yourself on unwilling individuals may have more to do with your unstoppable ego than some kind of addiction. Next time you lie on your therapist’s couch, take a second to think about all those people who are still dealing with the nightmare of your abuse every time they close their eyes.

Coda: I can communicate (badly) in several languages, but I get by in French, German, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish. One phrase I know in every one:

Please leave me alone.

 

 

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