At this point it seems the real news is when some famous celebrity or politician isn’t accused of inappropriate sexual behavior. The latest perpetrators only add to an ever-growing list: Roy Moore, Louis C.K., and I’m pretty sure Barney will be up there at some point in the next week.
The reactions have been…interesting…to say the least, especially concerning Roy Moore. But I’m not here to talk about 30-something year old men trying to date 14 year old girls, nor about Joseph and Mary, but rather about something that isn’t being covered in all the claims of sexual exploitation: None of this is new and what’s more is we’ve known about it for quite a while. I’d venture to guess that the human race has been aware of the sexual exploitation of women since we were able to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate sexual behavior; so we’re talking around 100,000 years, give or take.
We all sit there aghast that [insert celebrity/politician I like] could possibly engage in such behavior, but silently sit there in glee when [insert celebrity/politician I don’t like] is accused of sexual indiscretions. We all know what I’m talking about, but I want to use my favorite Twitter punching bag – Joe Walsh – as the PERFECT example of what I’m talking about. For those who don’t know, Joe Walsh is what would happen if the shit stain in your underwear became self aware and grew into a human form. He hates The Liberals™, The Gays™, The Blacks™, and Hillary Clinton©. So when Hollywood’s sex scandals started blowing up last week, he had this to say:
That was November 1. But yesterday, November 9, when talking about Roy Moore (who he supports):
So he took the hypocritical route – shocking – by quickly accepting the claims against Hollywood actors, but then denying the claims against Moore.
But he’s not alone on this as people tend to do this all the time. But in the Moore controversy as well as the Hollywood controversy there’s something major that’s missing in all the discussions: There are victims here. See, in the game of chess that is US Culture War we don’t actually care about the victims of these acts, we care about the gossip from these acts. We care that Roy Moore had/has(?) a thing for 14 year old girls because it means a disgusting politician will (hopefully) not be elected. But we don’t really care about the victims, only so far as they’re useful to our cause. We care that Kevin Spacey harassed and assaulted young men because it shows how depraved and disgusting Hollywood is. But don’t expect us to throw any concern to how those guys are doing now.
To some extent, this is expected because the perpetrator is known and the victim is unknown (and sometimes should remain unknown). But the level to which we do this actually prevents further progress in our everyday lives. We see what these politicians and celebrities do and rightly chastise them, but do we then turn around and go, “Could I have made someone sexually uncomfortable?” We don’t dare ask if we know someone who has assaulted women, and we will never ask if some of our own actions could possibly be construed as sexual harassment or sexual assault. See, we love to reflect on the sins of those in the news when the reality is this should cause some massive introspection for all of us.
This brings me back to a previous point: The claims of sexual assault are nothing new. If anything, we’ve known about it forever and accepted it as a cultural thing. We say “boys will be boys,” or we tell young women (or even young men) not to be prudes, to be open in their sexual experiences, all the while we’re only validating the predatory experiences they’re suffering. Some of us might think we’re suave when we’re flirting with a woman, but she could take it not only as uncomfortable, but as threatening. Our own ego and lack of introspection, our lack of looking at how we come across blinds us to how we might make others feel. What it boils down to is this idea that we’re somehow entitled to a sexual encounter with another human person simply because we have the desire; it’s like the whole “nice guys finish last” mantra. I’m sorry, but what about being nice guarantees you anything from a woman (or a guy)? If you’re being nice to get something out of the person, then you’re not being nice, you’re being a Capitalist, you’re bartering.
So we should take these very public accusations seriously, we should have judgements for the men and women accused of being sexually inappropriate. But we should be ever so careful, because unless we’re allowing these incidents to open us up to some self-reflection, we’re only helping to perpetuate a culture that devalues people (specifically women) to nothing more than their sexual purpose.