Sexual Assault, Politics, and the #MeToo Movement
As a person speaking to another person, I want to start off saying that it is absolutely wrong to violate someone’s personal boundaries, particularly physical boundaries, and more particularly in a sexual way. This seems obvious but it occurs very frequently. Rape*, sexual abuse*, or taking advantage of someone through sexual experience, seems like the most horrific violation against another human being, if you compare them all. This is because it has to do with a person’s dignity, a part of us that we truly own. We know that slavery is wrong because it removes a persons autonomy over their body, the vehicle they use to shape their destiny. It is hard to describe exactly why exactly sexual assault is so egregious, but these two violations share the same root: of using someone else, or going against their personal will. Rape is an extreme version of this, and there are other kinds of violation of coercion and power. Other than physical force, when two people are not meeting as equals, the mental affirmation of consent is not always clear, although my saying that is not to remove the agency or personal responsibility of both parties. It is also wrong to be accused of committing such a serious act if you did not do it or for others to exaggerate normal human interaction in order to create victims. A person can decide how they feel about another and whether or not they want to have anything to do with them politically, but we should be careful when it comes to the political arena.
The #MeToo Movement is not just about external politics
That being said, we should especially focus on ourselves, and the role that we play in our individual lives rather than just making it seem like it’s something out there with the people on TV. This is not to ask for perfection, but I think we should really turn the question back to ourselves because as with everything, what we see play out on a larger scale tends to be close to home. We play a part in our communities, work, family, or otherwise, but it is too easy to put evil in some distant group far away.
On the Sanctity of Sex and Sexuality
To get into the meat of the topic, I first want to talk about the sanctity of sex. Why is it so sacred to the human being? Why is it so wrong to not have personal control over own sexual interactions? But also, what are the messages we are putting out about sex, even though we are so horrified by incidents of abuse? As I stated earlier I think the act of violating someone through their sexual experiences carries more weight than pretty much any other circumstance. I think it’s because of its link to creation, the fact that our bodies are our personal property, that it belongs to the mind associated with it, and not anyone else. This is something we have established in many of our societies, at the root of abolition movements, and still yet to be fought for in many places around the world. Sexuality is very personal, is generally explored in a state of vulnerability, and what we do with it shapes our lives, for example, if a child is conceived. It is almost a violation of our reason for being, the source of the bringing of new life into the world, and how we recreate ourselves. You do not have to agree with that description, but for most, our sexual parts are a pretty sacred place of the body that we should be the gatekeeper of, not anyone else. It is obviously not just physical but a strong psychological access point into our psyche. There is a metaphysical aspect to sex.
The Culture Around Sex
However, after stating all this, I think there are some conflicting messages in how many of us are exposed to sex. If it is something to be so cherished, why do we have such a casual relationship to it, and how do we expect this to not influence others, especially others who may not have the same control of an upstanding citizen, due to psychological issues, or people who are simply predators. You may say, they would do it anyway but I strongly believe culture influences how persons behave in society, and whether or not they take out some urge in a particular way. I’m thinking of movies like American Pie and music like dance-hall or hip-hop (not all), that show an irreverence for sex (that can be good for countering repression), but oftentimes is downright degradation. During college, there was a performer at a concert rapping into the mic these words: “Suck my d***, b***h. It was said over and over in plain English. And it seemed that everyone continued bobbing their heads along. I was so horrified I considered going up there and telling him to stop. I think there is something weird going on in society. I don’t consider myself socially conservative, and this is not about repression, or what people choose to do in their private lives. I do think for the majority of us, the fully expressed human being is a sexual being as well as other aspects of ourselves, such as our intellectual or creative aspects. Sexually repressive cultures often have issues with sexuality manifesting itself in other ways. But I definitely notice a relationship to sex that is very casual in the modern west. We can be upset when we see sex treated as something transactional, say a woman trades her body for status, but aren’t we reinforcing this view of it in other ways? I think there is a correlation between the casual narratives we entertain ourselves with and people thinking they can get away with sexual predation. Our thought relationship to sex affects our actions. That may sound obvious but it is easy to observe in much of our entertainment. Maybe it won’t make you do certain things but there are people out there who have psycho-sexual issues or are not stable in certain ways. And perhaps it’s great to not repress people from exploring sex and sharing their explorations when it’s natural, but certain social boundaries are important. So, we’re saying this is all wrong, but the culture we live in says something different. How are we, as in you and me, promoting, partaking in or, discouraging this culture?
#MeToo and Sexual Assault Affects Both Men and Women, Boys and Girls
Then, there’s the issue of making it a conflict between men and women. Men and boys, as in children, are also victims of sexual abuse. In general men are more powerful physically, and also often times in the corporate world have power. So, this is not to deny the great correlation of instances where someone is likely to be coerced being linked to gender. But all human suffering is valid, not to be weighed and measured against another. Each person’s suffering should be acknowledged and encouraged to be processed so that the individual doesn’t continue the cycle. Both men and women are involved in this process. This is why rape or sexual assault should not be framed as a man violating a woman but a person violating another person. Additionally, the positive aspect of a man’s strength is to be a protector. They cannot do that without the same traits that allow them to abuse that difference. We cannot and should not throw all men under the bus. They are not immune to the psychological effects of assault or coercion either as adults or as children, but especially as children. Evil is a line in every single human being that can be crossed, though we may be inclined to do some things due to a category we are in.
Women Take Part in Sexual Assault Too
For children, women are often aggressors against their children, and women outside the family too have power over both younger genders. Those negative experiences don’t just disappear, but influence, including in the men who grow up. Regardless of the plethora of powerful men being exposed, using their status to commit varying degrees of sexual abuse against women, women are just as capable, involved, and complicit in creating an environment that makes these things possible. We have an interesting ability to only point out wrongdoing when the person comes from a certain group.
Dealing with Sexual Abuse as a Society
I think these are very personal issues. I wish there was more of a focus on the addressing of psychological issues behind abusive behavior (in most crimes where this is possible if the person is not a sociopath) rather than on punishment and retribution. I think persons should be removed from the ability to harm others by violating boundaries, personal property whether the body or things produced and legally acquired by that body, but that the shame is counterproductive in ultimately building a better society. Because things don’t go away by being buried, they go away by being brought into the light and processed. this is for all people form all walks of life of any gender. And focusing on punishment and prison and just locking people away does not do that. I do like the isolation from the rest of society, but I do think where they go should actually be ‘correctional institutions’, not just in title. Maybe this is me being optimistic, maybe there are people who cannot be helped. But I think this should be the focus. I don’t have the answers. I am sure there are people working on this. I mentioned in another video writing exercises, maybe one like Jordan Peterson’s work, make them all do it, if possible. Just a thought!! But as a very intelligent species on the planet, if people want to put their focus and efforts there, the solution will come. But we won’t have sympathy for others if we don’t have sympathy for ourselves, and from what I see, most of us just deny and avoid anything difficult within us, so of course we will just shame and deny and avoid the mirror image we see in others outside of us. The outcome of society rests on all of our shoulders.
*Definitions of Rape and Sexual Abuse
The definition of rape changes depending on the context, including with or without penetration, with a focus on coercion, threat of coercion or force to engage in sexual intercourse of various types. See some relevant articles below:
The definition of sexual abuse is more clear, but to clarify, here are some relevant articles below