The past few weeks have been historic in the number of claims by women and men of improper sexual conduct. Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein led the pack with scores of women coming forward about his behavior. Kevin Spacey’s misconduct hit the airwaves next followed by Roy Moore and as of late Al Franken. Of course Bill Cosby is awaiting retrial for criminal sexual assault for his behavior. Overarching all these allegations is the man in the Oval Office who admitted to grabbing women by their genitals, and more, pursing a married woman with offers of gifts, so he could be on her “like a bitch” (his own words.) Mrs. Trump downplayed his conduct saying “boys will be boys” in spite of a claim by one woman that Trump made sexual advances toward her in their own home while Mrs. Trump was pregnant. Even worse, at least 12 women came forward with their own claims of being sexually assaulted by Trump—and he was still elected.
Aside from politicians and other powerful men, sexual assaults on college campuses have also been headline news—the most recent being sexual assaults on black campuses. Lump all these assaults together, whether by politicians, private individuals, or male college students, the question has to be asked why this conduct is so rampant—or seemingly acceptable. One person said that the second class citizenship of women lies at the center of all this behavior. Women historically have been “a man’s property” –about one-half step above a slave. Even with the women’s liberation movement and all the bra-burning that came with it, women still have “a place” in the male dominant social ordering of things. Women, regardless of class or color, are still seen as less than men and therefore “available” for a man’s advances, of whatever sort. Trump confirmed this when he said that powerful men can do anything they want to do with a woman.
Another person said that American “culture” lies at the core of men behaving badly. This culture includes the history of second class treatment of women, but also includes the freedom of sexual expression. Just this week a high ranking official in the Trump administration lost his job because of racist comments he posted including saying that black women was sexually promiscuous. Would he say the same thing about all the white men being accused of sexual assault, including Donald Trump? The culture problem with sexual assault includes men having the freedom on live out their sexual fantasies looking at naked women in magazines—a la Hustler, Playboy, and a whole string of other magazines designed to arouse men. Add to this strip joints of every variety, also designed to aid and abet men in having women satisfy their sexual desires. Add to this the whole prostitution and sex slave industry which is designed to satisfy men’s sexual desires—regardless of the degrading cost on women. Now add to this the hundreds of pornographic websites where men can click on and watch some of the most disgusting sexual mistreatment of women that one can imagine. This sex culture has even reached into the mindset of teen and preteen boys who also access the content of these websites and begin to form their own notions of what is and what is not appropriate behavior toward females. The sex culture is wide and deep in America, and it has given men license to run sexually amok—with impunity.
What is now playing out in the media with Roy Moore and Al Franken pales in comparison to the entire spectrum of men behaving badly in almost every community across America. Workplace laws designed to stop sexual harassment have not stopped men from preying on women, including making lewd comments, ogling women’s body parts, touching, and in some cases imposing their sexual will on women. In some workplaces women are still enduring men behaving badly to keep their jobs and to avoid the gossip mill that somehow she invited these advances.
Across the world women are treated worse than they are here in America. Across the world girls are still enduring mutilation of their genitals as a cultural tradition, enduring being forced to marry older men, often to pay off family debts, being beaten and assaulted for wanting to be educated, being gang raped for walking to school and being permanently maimed, disfigured, and killed by husbands who do whatever they choose with their “wife property.” And, the punishment meted out to these violent assaults is not addressing the fact that the world still has a problem with equality of women. And for the next 4 or 8 years of the current occupant of the Oval Office, who is concerned with his own glory seeking, women will be pushed farther and farther back into the dark ages. We can only hope that there are no Salem witch hunts on the horizon.
Copyright 2017 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.