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On the Sexual Misconduct of Men Toward Women: Part 1

Robin Alexander

Posted on November 28, 2017 18:04

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At the deepest level, why does this even happen?

Ladies, we have a situation. Much is being said on this topic. The airwaves are awash with analyses, particularly whenever a new accusation is made. Who is still supporting who and what is their justification? Who is conspicuously silent? Who has apologized and who has not? Pundits parse the differences between incidents and endlessly predict the political ramifications in each case. Although our mainstream media is motivated by ratings, it is encouraging that the conversation is going on in a public forum — raising consciousnesses, producing consequences and emboldening victims to come forward.

Nevertheless, it's infuriating that the conversation needs to occur at all. I remember well the feminism of my adolescence and it seems we haven't made much progress. And the one thing I do NOT hear discussed is this: At the deepest level, why does this even happen?

I have a theory and it's not just that "powerful men abuse their power."

Don't get me wrong: sexual assault (and in fact all sexual misconduct) is about power. We've understood this since 1975, when Susan Brownmiller published Against Our Will and made it quite clear that rape "is not a crime of irrational, impulsive, uncontrollable lust, but is a deliberate, hostile, violent act of degradation and possession on the part of a would-be conqueror, designed to intimidate and inspire fear." Current headlines may focus on the sexual assault perpetrated by media moguls, billionaire businessmen and politicians with national or local standing. But power is relative and it's not the sole domain of successful men.

We know that sexual assault and harassment are omnipresent. Statistics published by the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW, Department of Justice, 2014, page 56) are astounding: 18 percent of women have been the victims of attempted or completed rape. When other forms of sexual violence, coercion and contact are included, the number climbs to 44.6 percent. This alone should convince us of the pervasiveness of the problem; but consider the #METOO memes that flooded Facebook a couple of weeks ago. And consider that the OVW statistics do not take into account under-reporting or all the other types of sexual misconduct women endure.

We also know that sexual misconduct occurs in every work situation: in the military, among law enforcement, on college campuses, in corporate offices, in restaurants, in factories and in fields where oranges are picked. The supervisor in the factory has power, as does the foreman in the field. And female workers in those workplaces need their jobs just as much, if not more, than aspiring actresses, aspiring pundits and staffers. They just don't tend to make the headlines. Needless to say, it's not as if all men with relative power over women will automatically commit these heinous acts. The power may provide the opportunity and a feeling that they can get away with it, but it doesn't explain the impulse.

More to come.

Robin Alexander

Posted on November 28, 2017 18:04

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Source: FOX Business
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