Every day, it seems like there are more news stories about male celebrities and politicians sexually harassing or assaulting people. Over 80 women have brought sexual harassment, sexual assault or rape charges against Harvey Weinstein, and, since Weinstein, NBC recently published a list of famous men accused of sexual misconduct.
In addition, Kevin Spacey, after being accused of preying on a 14-year-old actor in the 80s, has had 13 other men accuse him of various forms of sexual misconduct. His explanation is that he was drunk and doesn’t remember it. He also used it as an excuse to come out as gay, which is horribly inappropriate. None of this means his actions were OK.
Several more men have even confessed to what they did, including comedian Louis C.K. and former President George H.W. Bush. Louis C.K. said, “These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was OK because I never showed a woman my d— without asking first, which is also true.” Yet these women told him no. They didn’t want him to, but he did it anyway.
Bush issued a similar non-apology, with his spokesman saying that he “patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.” Since when is touching someone without their consent good-natured?
The patterns I’ve noticed with all these cases is that almost every man has had multiple accusers, gets away with very little legal punishment and tries to make excuses to justify their predatory behavior. It is absolutely appalling. The problem persists because so many people write these accusations off as a joke.
Of course, not all men are like this. But when men are like this, many people either ignore or enable their misconduct instead of calling them out for their behavior. They continue making excuses for people like Spacey and Bush even though there is never an excuse to act that way.
And yet, the excuses start from a young age. When boys are young and disrespectful to girls, adults make excuses like, “Boys will be boys” or, “He just has a crush on her.” This teaches boys it’s OK to bully, make inappropriate comments or even get violent. It also teaches a sense of entitlement, that boys can just do what they want. When these boys grow up, they turn into men who abuse their power to hurt and manipulate.
To everyone who’s reading this: I want you to speak up if you see someone making crude remarks. I want you to speak up if you see some guy grabbing at someone. And I want you to stop making excuses for this type of behavior. Teach your sons that it’s not appropriate to act this way. Teach your daughters how to defend themselves and that they shouldn’t tolerate sexism and sexual abuse. It’s everyone’s responsibility to make a change, and it isn’t going to happen if no one tries.