I am reaching out to tell you that sexual assault victims know what an assault looks and feels like.
We know when we are being forced to do something against our will.
We know when the people who assault us believe our bodies are theirs and they can do what they want with them.
As a woman who has been assaulted many times, I know what a misunderstood advancement looks and feels like compared to an assault.
Today, a judge declared Bill Cosby a “sexually violent predator” and sentenced him to 3-10 years in state prison. His defense attorney wanted the judge to go easy on him. He feels that Cosby is defenseless at his age, especially since he is blind. Does he forget all of Cosby’s victims were defenseless… you know… after Cosby drugged them?
When many look at that story, we cannot fully put ourselves in that position. A huge celebrity, beloved comedian, drugs you and takes what is YOURS. Men around the world might not look at the Cosby case and say: “Yikes, did I do something like that?”
It is the same for the Harvey Weinstein case… in the sense that he lured women to a Beverly Hills suite and used his power in Hollywood to sexually assault women.
However, another case that is hitting the spotlight this week is giving men pause. Men are wondering to themselves if they could also be accused of what Dr. Christine Ford is accusing Judge Brett Kavanaugh of doing.
In fact, in just a couple of days, Dr. Ford will bravely sit in front of an angry and divided group of Senators and tell the world what she says happened to her at a high school party.
Let’s be clear… despite what the talking heads and Republican politicians are saying on cable news… what Dr. Ford says happened is not “just one of those things that happen in high school.”
Yes… failed hookups are the story for many, many high school kids. Rejection from the person you have the biggest crush on is part of most of our high school memories. In fact, that story often pops up in our college and adult lives as well.
So, some men are questioning whether what they did in high school or beyond would classify as the same thing as Dr. Ford’s allegations.
Given women’s history with men, the chances that every man was always respectful and considerate of us, well, are slim. In fact, I have looked up to and admired men who were sexist and disrespectful in a way that was, unfortunately, acceptable in society… or at least tolerated… until recently.
Every woman I have talked to about their own experiences with men have many, many stories of them crossing the line verbally or physically. Not all those stories come close to what Dr. Ford is describing.
I want to be careful because all of our experiences are different, but I am here to tell the good guys there are differences in the way women are treated…. and we know it.
I was on what many might consider a date with a guy in high school. I thought we were going as just friends. I thought we wanted to avoid the pain of not having an actual date by going to the event together. It ended up, he thought differently.
At the end of the event, he drove me home. We pulled into the driveway, and he leaned over and gave me a big ol’ kiss… not closed lips, people… but that is as far as I’m going with it… you get the picture.
I was shocked! I truly had no idea he felt any way romantically about me… and no idea he was going to kiss me. I jumped back. The look on his face broke a little piece of my heart. He was rejected and disappointed. He had been so kind and respectful to me all night. We had always had such a blast together. He had a different take on our relationship.
I started apologizing to him. I was so sorry I gave him the wrong idea. I so badly wanted to continue being friends. (We didn’t… we drifted… drifted…)
His response is key here.
He could have been like Cosby and Weinstein, and maybe Kavanaugh (the facts are not all in). He could have pounced on me….grabbed my lady parts and tried to kiss me more. No one was around us.
He did not. He retreated, embarrassed. He apologized. He got the wrong idea. He hoped I understood. Of course I did.
So, here I am, men, asking you to evaluate your experiences with women.
Did you make unwanted advances? If the woman retreated and said no, did you put your hand over her mouth? Did you lock her in a room? As she struggled to get away from you, did you try to get your man part in her? Did you continue to force your way on her while she struggled to escape you?
Did you put drugs in a woman’s drink with the purpose of “getting some” later that night?
Did you try to kiss or make a move on a girl you thought liked you… and then retreat when she said no? Listen, you were way too excited to get there… but you respected her enough to back off.
I have described in many previous blogs (The Choice is Clear, “…for a girl like me.”, “That’s a pretty good offer for a girl like me.” Part 2) some of my experiences.
However, I also have many experiences where a guy crossed a line, BUT then retreated and apologized, and never showed the behavior to me again. I do not lump those in with the sexual assaults I’ve experienced.
Women, please know, I am not trying to demean others’ experiences. It is just that some actual GOOD men are evaluating who they are…
… and that is a good thing.
After centuries of oppression, assault, and lack of rights, it is time for women to be treated better… and for all men to assess how they treat women. Frankly, it was time centuries ago, but I’m glad society is making sure they do now.
The bottom line is: How do you treat women?
Listen, I get angrier by the minute when I see a**holes on TV saying things like, “Wow, if people knew what I did in high school, I would be in trouble too.”
Um, if you did what Dr. Ford is saying happened to her… you should be in trouble.
If you assaulted a woman, girl, man, or boy… you should be in trouble.
All those talking heads who are saying, “I wouldn’t want to be judged for what I did in high school.”
I want them judged.
However, if you took a girl home, thinking you were starting a romantic relationship, kissed her hard… she said no… you backed off and apologized…. you are not the same person Dr. Ford describes.
If you didn’t lock a girl in a room so you and your buddy could have your way with her. You are not the man Dr. Ford describes.
I can only guess this time in history is hard on the good men who care how they treat women. Men are being lumped together as a**holes.
For the actual a**holes, your time has come.
It is sorely needed, as women (and don’t forget… some men) have been the victims of crimes that were usually considered part of a “Boys will be Boys” mentality.
The Boys club needs to be dismantled. The rules of the club need to be abolished. We need all men assessing how they treat women.
As you assess how you were as a boy and a man, listen to another woman, who is way smarter, and funnier than me, talk about the stuff you should NOT have done:
Now is the time to end sexual violence. (Again, it should have ended a long time ago, like… before it began.)
Now is the time to stop worrying about how the news of assaults affect the men accused and worry about how the assaults affect the victims.
However, at the same time… to the good guys I say…
Thank you, and be patient. Most of us know you are there.