Column sparks outrage, first-ever rebuttal

December 23, 2017 GMT

I read a commentary in the Daily Journal this past week on a very current topic that bothered me so much, I felt the need to speak out. Therefore, I am writing my first-ever rebuttal to the newspaper as a means to share my outrage.

Recently, the news has been saturated with reports of sexual misconduct by powerful men, and the #MeToo movement that has followed those reports. The commentary written by Alan Webber is what sent me over the edge. Although Mr. Webber is not unhappy to see Sen. Al Franken gone from the Senate, he does not seem to believe his accusers are credible, or that they possibly could remember what happened to them 40 years ago becuse Mr. Webber cannot remember what he had for breakfast yesterday.

As a former teacher and private practice counselor, let me just say if anyone has ever been subjected to an incident where they felt truly humiliated and powerless, they do remember. And for women, those incidents have occurred far more than most men want to believe. There still are men who consider women to be second-class citizens, and/or value them primarily on the basis of their sex.

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Men, such as Franken, Harvey Weinstein, John Conyers, Roy Moore and, oh yes, President Donald Trump, among others, believe it is OK to speak to a woman as a sexual object rather than as another human being. They think they have a right to touch a woman in any manner they desire without the approval of that woman. Men such as these view females as less than intelligent, capable and feeling people. We pretend to be an advanced society where persons are valued for their merit rather than their sex, but that simply is not true in the heads of some men.

Mr. Webber wants to know why these women take so long to come forward with the accusations. I can give you a few of the many reasons why. First, they might be very young and just freeze. Second, they are shocked and might feel blindsided. Third, they often feel very ashamed, even though what happened is not a reflection on them. Fourth, they assume they will not be believed, especially if the man is powerful or well known. Fifth, they do not know how to fight back. Sixth, they either want to keep their job, or they need to keep their job and the good ol’ boys network does not take kindly to being called out. Most of all, they are afraid. And, Mr. Webber, silence does not mean consent. More likely, it means fear.

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Women have spent their lives staying quiet as history has shown that they will not be supported, and that they will be the ones to lose their jobs or be demeaned. That is the reality of the situation; it is what happens. Only women with significant financial resources have the option of calling a man out since they probably will lose their ability to make a living. Taylor Swift was able to call out sexual assault because she had significant resources and didn’t have to worry about financial ruin resulting from retaliation and black balling. She also has an unwavering personality and stood firm. Swift sued for sexual harassment during a photo shoot, and proved her point by winning, and only asking for $1. The majority of women are not in that position.

(The headline of the column) states Franken “is not deserving of unkind fate.” I disagree. Until men who believe it is OK to disrespect women are penalized in a way that hurts, they will continue with their sordid behavior. The women who were treated disrespectfully and touched inappropriately did not deserve what happened to them or how it made them feel. They also did not deserve to lose promising careers because they blew the whistle on such behavior, or deserve to have to put up with such behavior, keeping their mouths shut in order to pay their rent.

Women have started this long overdue and scary conversation, and they are risking their careers, and reputations because there are those, such as Mr. Webber, who still view their accounts with suspicion. We need to keep the dialogue going to end these inappropriate behaviors. It is not too much to expect to be treated with respect, and to make a living. It is not too much to expect a work conversation to stay out of the sexual arena. It is not too much to expect to go to work or walk through a store and not be touched inappropriately or grabbed. It is not too much to expect men to keep their sexual desires to their own relationships rather than to women at large. It is way past time the silence be broken. Those who do not believe these things have been, and are happening around the country and in our own community, need to take off their blinders and become a part of the solution.