Sex and the Abuse of Power

The latest explosive case (and I’m sure not the last) of a powerful man abusing, insulting and demeaning a woman sexually because he can is presently in the papers.  There have been tales before of executives, show business bigwigs, business men in power, and even presidents insulting or taking advantage of female underlings.  There is presently a social media movement asking women who have had such insulting things done to them  write “Me Too” on Facebook or Twitter or to tell their story so we all can see how prevalent this sort of thing has always been.  There are a great many “Me toos” from women of all ages and backgrounds. Some of the tales are astonishing.

One woman I know was groped in her hospital bed at the age of 5 by her overly friendly doctor.  When I was a blossoming 13 year old High School freshman my English teacher took me aside to tell me that I’d probably get an A anyway but I would be sure to get one from him if I sat in the front row of his class and wore a tight sweater. A woman TV writer in a meeting with an all-male staff had someone walk behind her and drape his flaccid penis over her shoulder while she was speaking, to the amusement of everyone else in the room – all males of course.

Many men ask why the women who were sexually so abused did not speak up at the time since many of the reports date back to the last century. Oddly many women were afraid they wouldn’t be believed.  This even though the majority of women asked can tell you stories of their own sexual abuse in childhood, young adulthood and later in life.  I think with so much current publicity with celebrities like Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and past and present presidents  abusing their power with women even those who doubted such things were common are now believing the stories.

What about you, Reader, or those close to you?  I’m sure you have your own stories or have heard them from or about those you know.  Recalling them, retelling them, may be cathartic.  Doing so may well make you angry too.  Is there anything you want to do about it?

In some states it may not be too late to file a complaint even years after the fact.  In some cases the person who took advantage of you may still be in your life.  Do you want to confront him now? I say “him” because most of the offenders are male, but not all, and most of the victims of these assaults are and were female, but again, not all.  Think of the scandals of abuse within the Catholic clergy.

Taking advantage of one’s power as a boss, teacher, employer, etc. is all too common.  Using it for one’s sexual advantage has always been seen as the victor’s right.  Conquering soldiers may well have looted but they went for the women first. That slave owners clearly abused sexually as well can be seen by so many mixed race children of that time.

While it may always and still be a common privilege of those in power the current rash of publicity may begin to make changes.  You can be part of that change.  When each of us speaks up we can all take pleasure in living in a safer and more just world.