Every day there are new allegations of sexual misconduct by men in powerful positions. It has hit the news media from Fox news to NPR, the entertainment industry from producers and directors to actors and comedians, and the halls of power from the local to the national level. Quite often we hear that it was widely known to people surrounding the accused. I’ve heard “it was the worst kept secret in Hollywood” and “rumors have abounded for years.” People recount hearing stories for years and no one spoke up before. Employers who once paid people off to buy their silence are now firing some of their money-makers. People who worked side-by-side with the men widely-known for their perversions suddenly refuse to work alongside them now. But why now?
Well, first of all, for years and years women have kept quiet and not made the accusations. They feared retribution and the demise of their careers. They knew that in a courtroom a victimized woman was often vilified and made to look as though they had somehow asked to be assaulted…(What were you wearing? Why were you there? What did you do to encourage this?) And that was in a trial of a common criminal not someone rich and powerful enough to have big law firms at their disposal. I think I have a sense of why now.
I believe that women have finally figured out that if they didn’t speak up loud, long, and forcefully – if they didn’t get together with all of the other victims to raise their voices resoundingly enough that they couldn’t be ignored – this would continue forever. The United States elected a man who openly bragged about sexually assaulting women to the presidency. All of his admissions of criminal behavior toward women, of voyeurism toward beauty pageant contestants, and his comments regarding his wife’s body during interviews on Howard Stern, and. . . well, you see how much it hurt him. People, including Donald Trump himself, shook it off as “locker room talk.” They excused it as they had for years with “boys will be boys.” It wasn’t just women who were insulted by these excuses. Many men said that they found that excuse demeaning. It said that they were incapable of thinking, reasoning, and behaving morally.
I think that his election was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. It became the moment that women stood up all over the world, threw open the windows and shouted, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” It sprouted the Women’s March back in January 2107. Two and a half million women and men all over the world stood up and spoke out for women. There they were making their voices heard, wearing their pink “pussy” hats, and demanding to be treated fairly. There is strength in numbers. That’s what these women showed everyone. And now, all of those who used their power to subjugate women, who used their power to force themselves on women or force women to witness lewd acts, and who thought they were secure in their power against those women are facing the power of those voices united and unleashed. I think they can thank Trump for that. Maybe there is something good coming out of his election after all.