The revelations of widespread sexual assault unleashed by Donald Trump’s beastly behavior has spotlighted a critical failure in civilized society. I hope the conversation spreads from America around the globe. This topic must be dragged out of the shadows and sorted out, however painful that might be.
As a man, I must confess that I have not always been sensitive to the feelings of women. I have made inappropriate remarks in an office setting, for example, and openly ogled female passers by.
But I assure you I have never, ever in my entire life, drunk or sober, thrust my hand up a strange woman’s skirt or kissed a casual business associate on the lips.
It seems I might be in the minority.
Apparently, sexual predators are far more numerous than I had imagined. And it seems this behavior is often taken for granted in the workplace.
Donald Trump Jr. once opined in a TV interview that women who can’t “handle” inappropriate behavior shouldn’t work in an office but choose a career like kindergarten teacher instead.
A writer named Kelly Oxford asked girls and women to share their stories of sexual assault on Twitter. To get the ball rolling, she volunteered information about an assault she had endured as a little girl:
Old man on city bus grabs my p**** and smiles at me. I’m 12
According to a National Public Radio report, responses “poured in—not by the dozens or the hundreds, but by the thousands.”
The women described a vast array of offenses by all kinds of men:
Strangers on the bus, in the street, on the subway, at a concert. Fathers. Uncles. Baby sitters. Classmates. Teachers. Doctors. Priests. Friends.
The women had been 23, or 17, or 11, or 9, or 6. In 140 characters, they expressed shock or the grim absence of surprise. They shared guilt and anger and shame. They told of family members who didn’t believe them. Or they shared nothing but the narrowest facts: where they were, what was done to them.
Groped. Penetrated. Rubbed against. Exposed. Masturbated on. Stalked. Slapped. Raped. Forcibly kissed.
There are laws against such atrocities. But, according to NPR, many of the women said they had not reported the assaults. I imagine they felt too embarrassed, too ashamed, in some cases even too guilty.
I am not a psychologist, and I don’t pretend to understand human nature. But surely something is awry in society?
For one thing, there’s a vast misunderstanding here. As a teenager in Jamaica, I was often assured by other boys that women like forceful men, that when they say no, they really mean yes.
And I am sure women would be forlorn if men no longer expressed admiration for them, no longer made romantic overtures or sexual advances.
But obviously the kind of behavior reported by the women on Twitter is intolerable. Obviously, something must be done to curb it.