We’ve heard the ill-informed things some men say about sexual harassment and sexual assault. Personally, I can’t get used to any of it, but it doesn’t surprise me now.
There’s more of a jolt when women say those things. Theoretically, women see it from the vantage point of someone who is harassed or assaulted. They understand that boundaries protect them. Well, most women understand.
I should disclose a whole bunch of stuff before continuing:
A close friend of mine — who will be referred to as “D” — was falsely accused of indecent assault on a teenaged boy during the 1990s. He was charged with two counts of child molestation, which were later reduced to sexual battery charges before being dismissed — more than two years after the criminal case began. The attempt to prosecute him was in retaliation for a petition he wrote and signed (along with about thirty co-workers), challenging a high-level workplace decision.
I don’t want to get into specifics about what happened to D. because there could be liability problems I can’t deal with. However, shortly after a judge dismissed the charges, D. spoke on the record to more than one newspaper reporter. One of the papers published an article making it clear that D. was attributing the accusations to a workplace dispute unrelated to children.
D.’s health, career, reputation and life were damaged by the accusations against him. Although the police interviewed multiple children and teenagers D. had worked with, only one cooperated with the effort to brand D. a pedophile. That young man was in the habit of telling lies, so he was malleable.
Another disclosure: I was molested as a child. I was also treated improperly by men later, as a teenager and as an adult. I was stalked.
I’m fifty-seven now, and don’t get much of that crap anymore. I’ve turned into the proverbial dorm mother who is ready to knock the snot out of anyone I see harassing a woman, man, child or other creature. The gropers don’t approach me now because I’ve been around the block, and if the impressions I’m getting are correct they don’t approach others in my presence, either. As stupid as some sex offenders are, many of them know instinctively that they shouldn’t do that in front of a woman who has burned out on abuse. I have only a cell phone, fists and teeth, but predators wait to do those things until after I’m out of earshot. I know it’s still happening, though, because it happens to a lot of people.
Where the debate on sexual misconduct is concerned, I have a shitload of conflicts of interest that can send the personal bias in any direction. And I’m grateful to have survived long enough to have those conflicts of interest.
D. is no longer with us. He lived with a rare form of cancer for more than eight years, and always suspected his illness was due to the trauma of being falsely accused.
We’re hearing a lot of accusations against public figures now, and a flat-out denial on the part of an accused person is the only legitimate defense. Some people are falsely accused, and we can’t rule out the possibility that some of the celebrities who have been publicly shamed have not done what they’re accused of doing.
Forget the I must have been very drunk excuse posted by one actor on Twitter, who also claimed he didn’t remember that evening too clearly. Someone is always blaming liquor, for sexual assault and all other bad behavior. Yes, liquor will turn some people into assholes. At the same time, an asshole should never get away with pointing at the bottle of vodka and saying, “He did it!”
I’d like to know why there have been no public accusations against women. Just between you and me, women aren’t guaranteed to be free of that aberration. They’re more likely to abet assaults committed by men, but personally I remember a woman (who did not work in the entertainment industry) cornering me in her office many years ago and trying to terrorize me into submitting to her. I don’t remember how I got past her to the doorway, but eventually I did leave her office without the worst happening.
My own memory of being hurt by presumptuous people isn’t complete. However, I suspect the people who hurt me can remember the incidents more clearly than I do. They weren’t going through the trauma of having their control taken away from them. They dominated.
Here’s the best way I can describe the way time is perceived by a sexual harassment/assault victim during the confrontation: It’s a combination of slow motion and the speeding train effect. Your heart is pounding, but you don’t feel yourself moving forward. You can’t always tell if the confrontation is lasting a few minutes or closer to an hour, which is bound to complicate things if you go to the police. The police need details.
Now that I’ve completed the appropriate ranting, we can move on to the current stupidity which prompted this post in the first place:
Catherine Deneuve may be an older, supposedly experienced woman, but she underestimates the horror of sexual harassment. She and other women have signed an open letter questioning the current wave of allegations against public figures, for the wrong reasons. Evidently, the letter suggests some level of misconduct is okay.
I don’t want to go off-topic again, but my own perception of the physically beautiful Catherine Deneuve was shaken early on. During the 1970s, Miss Deneuve appeared in a printed ad for Blackglama fur. It was part of the company’s What Becomes a Legend Most? campaign. It made me wonder why someone who found work regularly thought she needed the job of endorsing cruelty to animals, and I had the same question about other celebrities who endorsed the brand. This was before most of us knew anything about how perfume is made, so Miss Deneuve’s Chanel No. 5 ads didn’t cause me to ponder the issue.
I’ll stop right here and share a link to a BBC story about this misguided effort by female apologists. Let’s hope a few men will call bullshit on them: