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  • Writer's pictureEdie Montreux

Putting the Sex in Sexism

This one’s going to get deep. I’m putting the sex in sexism today. Trigger alert: #metoo, rape, coercion

When I denounced Kevin Spacey, I assumed I would be one of the few forward-thinking individuals to stand with Anthony Rapp. I’m grateful I was wrong.

Grateful, and yet, disappointed.

56 women have come forward about Harvey Weinstein’s advances, over many, many years, and finally, there’s enough evidence to press charges.

59 women came forward about Bill Cosby, and other women were quick to defend him.

15 women accused Donald Trump of sexual assault before he became president, and it didn’t even slow his campaign momentum.

One man has the power to accuse Kevin Spacey, get his show cancelled and his sponsorship cut.

It’s enough to make any woman who said #metoo question her value as a human being.

I didn’t accuse my rapist. It would be my voice against his, a beautiful blond boy with green eyes who could (and did) get any girl he wanted. I knew how the cross-examination would go.

Lawyer: You went on a date with him. You must have found him attractive.

Me: Of course. He is an attractive man.

Lawyer: So when he took you back to his place, things went too far. Did you say no?

Me: Yes.

Lawyer: But he talked you into it?

Me: I felt like I had to say yes, like it would be better for me. I wouldn’t get hurt as much, if I just said yes. (I would probably have to talk over the lawyer to say all of that.)

Lawyer: That’s consent.

Me: It’s coercion.

Lawyer: So you say. You wanted him, but you grew up Catholic. Did you think sex with him on the first date was right in the eyes of God?

Me: It wasn’t sex. It was rape.

Lawyer: Answer the question.

Me: No, sex on the first date probably doesn’t go over well with God.

Lawyer: Here’s what I think happened. I think you said yes because you wanted him, but later you decided it was a bad idea.

My Lawyer: Objection! Leading the witness!

Judge: Sustained.

Lawyer: No further questions, your honor.

Coercion cases are rarely tried in court for that reason. We rarely win. (In fact, if you know of a rape by coercion case with a conviction, please let me know. It would restore a fraction of my faith in humanity.)

Out and out rape, where the woman doesn’t know the suspect at all and she’s either overpowered or taken advantage of while unconscious, has a 50/50 chance of success. 50%. Because she was wearing something provocative, on the wrong side of town at the wrong time of night, or knew what could happen when she drank that much.

“She asked for it.”

“She had it coming.”

Women make up over half of the United States population: 50.8%, to be exact. Yet, we choose to be governed by men. Not just men, my friends. We elected stupid men who don’t know how the female reproductive system works. Todd Akin. This Unnamed Guy, or Vito Barbieri, who thinks we can swallow a camera to see what’s going on in the uterus. This article says more about stupid laws than I have time to say here.

Women feel such a fierce competition with each other, they choose to tear each other down rather than build each other up. BACKSTABBING LEAVES US WEAK.

When we tear each other down, we let men tell us how to think, how to feel, how to act. We give them the power to make decisions without us, like taxing tampons, taking away free birth control and abortion options, and allowing the manufacture of toxins that make us infertile when we WANT to have kids, or gives those children birth defects. My favorite state politician has a saying: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

When we had the chance to elect a woman, we burned her to the ground. She wasn’t attractive. She smiled too wide. She laughed too harshly. And her damn emails – only when Bernie Sanders said, “enough with the damn emails,” we got behind him. “Yeah,” we said. “Shut up about her emails.” Because a man said it, and we agreed with him.

If we want this to change, it needs to start with women speaking up and making their voices heard. If we want this to change, we need to follow every woman’s brave story with #ibelieveyou. If we want this to change, we need to start talking to men about our bodies, our consent, and our worth. If we want this to change, we need to support each other.

Silence is seen as approval. Standing by and letting men make assumptions about us and choosing our rights not only hurts us as individuals, but also hurts society as a whole. It’s time to educate men on what we go through when they ignore us. It’s time they heard us the first time.

I believe you.

I also believe in you.

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