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Look the other way

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Today's hearings on Capitol Hill were replete with politicians decrying the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and its deplorable disregard for the female victims of a serial, sex offender. These minor females trusted that federal agents had sworn an oath, and thus would defend the basic, human dignity of fellow citizens.

Strident shock was repeatedly expressed by politicians, like Ted Cruz, in today's televised hearings, as all stated their knee-jerk need to shift all blame to a monolithic, governmental agency. For survivors of sexual assault in childhood, this sanctimonious speech-making resonates as more of the same, a denial of any collective responsibility. The systemic denial, and steadfast refusal to grapple with the pervasive and widespread sexual abuse of minors in the United States, is nothing new. It has been the norm throughout America's checkered history of failing to safeguard the rights of women and children.

This stubborn truth is the horror that shatters every victim's innocence, the belief that our society is sacredly committed to routing out sexual predators. In most instances, American society conditions victims of abuse to believe that they never should have come forward to name their attacker. Indeed, the status quo resolutely shames them for their trouble. The brave women who testified today know this. They recognize that the hue and cry of outrage are characterized by lofty words of protestation from men of privilege, with no dedicated action to prevent and punish these crimes.

When I express my feminism to someone who feels that my advocacy for the rights of women is radical, left-wing, or irrelevant, noise, I remember the tears of so many. So many women and girls who live their entire lives with the wound of sexual abuse, only to have the attack re-enacted by a society that really does not believe in the crucial destructiveness of female trauma. Women's issues become children's issues, because the majority of children are raised and cared for by women. The cycle repeats, and only the faces change.

Like every other issue of inequity that women face, sexual assault will never be mitigated by any contingent other than ourselves. We should never look to anyone other than ourselves to ensure human rights and dignity for the women and children of the world. Ask any Afghan woman today, living under the thumb of the Taliban after the departure of the American military, whether we should take stock in the promises of men in authority who promise to keep us safe. It is now, and always has been, a hollow promise. We cannot rely on the traditional patriarchy to place the sanctity of women's rights above the irresistible inclination of so many, to simply look the other way.

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