The revelation of a decades-long predation from Hollywood giant Harvey Weinstein set off an avalanche of allegations against others.
Since then, women have accused screenwriter and director James Toback, agent Tyler Grasham, and political journalist Mark Halperin of sexual harassment and/or abuse. And we can’t (and won’t) forget the recent news that Bill O’Reilly paid an astronomical $32 million to settle with one of his many accusers.
When sexual crime occurs, it’s easy to step back and start playing the blame game in an attempt to quell abuse of any kind. Some may say that women need to stop dressing a certain way, or perhaps that they should even keep themselves from situations where a man could easily take advantage of them.
To be sure, there is nothing wrong with being smart about your surroundings and who you’re with. In fact, I highly recommend it. There is also nothing wrong with dressing in a conservative manner instead of as a low-cut, high-slit target. But really, that is an entirely personal preference.
Despite all the suggested dos and don’ts that women are hyper-aware of, sexual abuse/assault stills takes place. The recent #MeToo social media campaign confirmed that many women have gone through these experiences. On Friday, RedState’s Jennifer Van Laar wrote this piece detailing her own harrowing nightmare with sexual harassment.
The bottom line? No woman is asking to be sexually harassed and/or abused.
So what is the answer to the question: “Who is to blame when sexual assault occurs?” It’s simple. Only the abuser. Period. End of story.
There is a middle ground between the often-used “men should learn not to rape!” and “women shouldn’t ask for it!” mantras that too often emanate from the extreme left and extreme right. Men as a whole are not the problem. Women aren’t looking toward a perpetrator and just begging to be abused.
Criminals are to blame for the crimes they commit. If a burglar breaks into an expensive home and ransacks the place, it is not the homeowner’s fault. We do not chastise them for buying a home in a nice neighborhood. Even if they were to leave their doors unlocked, the crimes of breaking in and stealing another’s belongings is not on them. Would we suggest a wiser approach to home safety? Yes, but we would not pin the blame for the crime on them.
Beyond who is to blame for sexual abuse is the question: “why didn’t these women come forward sooner?” Weinstein had been a predator for decades. O’Reilly’s harassment was well-known. Why wait?
Writer Bethany Mandel, a victim herself – at the hands of a rabbi – explained on Twitter this week. Here are a few tweets from her thread.
When men in power take advantage of women, when they harass and abuse others all for their own twisted satisfaction, sometimes it takes a “critical mass” of victims to bring the giant down. This shouldn’t be too difficult to understand. It is true of the Weinsteins and O’Reillys, but also other men who possess power on a less well-known scale.
Unfortunately, there will be more cases of sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of men who know better, because they all do.
When we hear about them, we should pin the entirety of the blame on the sick, pathetic male who uses his power to prey upon women. And when we hear that it has taken months or years for a crime to be reported or revealed, we should remember that too often a “critical mass” is needed to push the perpetrator out into the blinding light.