By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader
First, some real talk. This nation has been obsessed with sex since, well, since even before becoming the United States. Promiscuity is as American as apple pie.
Ask Native American women sexually violated by Bible-toting colonists shortly after welcoming them at Plymouth Rock. Ask African women ripped from the motherland, brutally kidnapped, forced into involuntary servitude and ruthlessly raped at will by “evangelical” white masters.
Even when the misogyny wasn’t racial, it was systemic. Ask white women treated like fragile damsels one minute by their own men, then objectified as tools of their gratification. They couldn’t even vote until the early 20th Century. And a century later, they still make 75 cents on the dollar of similarly qualified white men.
Disrespect for women fuels sexual aggression. America has that dubious characteristic down to a science.
Even those who would not molest or rape or fondle or berate or assault women, are often complicit, both in what they fail to object to, and in the less harmful “pleasures” derived from objectification of women – like gratuitous nudity in movies, ad campaigns driven by sexual innuendo or, in extreme instances, pornography.
It must quickly be noted that painting all men with a broad brush is not only unfair, it is inaccurate. Many men preface thoughts, feelings and actions pertaining to the opposite sex with pre- requisite consideration of how offensive their behavior would be to mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, nieces, aunts, friends, neighbors and colleagues.
There are men who champion women’s causes without inconsistency, hypocrisy or ulterior motives. The major problem in all of this is that these men are too few and far apart. And in such an overtly carnal society, even the best men are tempted or occasionally stumble – however contrite they may be in the aftermath.
The problem isn’t the foibles of the flesh. What is most concerning is this rising environment of predatory behavior. For example, looking at women in offices and forcing sexual acts, making subordinate females watch masturbation, abusing children while being their coach or teacher to live out pedophile perversions, threatening the livelihood of women who resist.
Celebrities from the world of entertainment, politics, business, and virtually in every walk of life are putting their most vulgar, vile and vindictive foot forward – stepping on the dreams and dignity of so many in the process.
Despite the fact that new cases continue to emerge everyday, men from all walks of life continue to hope they can skirt detection, elude justice, and keep it on the down low.
So the Republican National Committee and Agent Orange last week threw their full support behind the senatorial candidacy of the man from Alabama accused of inappropriate sexual contact with teenage girls; a man banned from his local malls for it. If that’s not enough, the same man points to passage of Civil Rights and Voting Rights legislation as the beginning of the nation’s moral decline.
While this miscreant clearly has no station among God-fearing Americans of any ilk, he has found a home in the morally debased hearts of Republicans who un-ashamedly favor party over principle, dogma over dignity, collusion over common sense, and hate-mongering over humanity. Disgraceful is not a strong enough rebuke.
So how can a nation of marginally-minded men undo their rotten behavior when they get tacit approval from the nation’s top administrator who himself faces 13 or more women who complain that they have been victimized by his sexual improprieties. Somehow the nation looks in every direction on this subject except 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Here is the point. Enough is enough. Women who step forward should be applauded. Their stories should be thoroughly vetted and when the evidence is verifiable, the response to their attackers should be one of zero tolerance. Men need to know that there will be swift and substantial repercussions for mental, physical and psychological violence against women.
With every movie, television show and advertisement exploiting sex, it will be an uphill battle. But society can’t relent on this issue for the sake of boys – who need to be taught acceptable and healthy behavior, and for the sake of girls – who need assurances that they need not quietly accept relegation to second class citizenship.
This is no easy quest. But we’ve got to address it. Not eventually, not soon, not even tomorrow, but today. And every day. Every man out there needs to come to the realization that this is not a woman’s issue but a threat to decency for everyone, everywhere. Women and men together must declare “We Shall Overcome.”
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.