Culture Apologetic

Gabby Douglas Got it Right!

We are currently experiencing an outbreak of sexual harassment accusations, some purportedly occurring many decades ago. The net has captured even former President George H. W. Bush—accusations stemming from events in both his older and extreme older age.[1]

Actors, movie execs, politicians, and news anchors are mostly the bad actors in this saga, but there are, of course, so many others.[2] We hear these stories because these people are famous. But there’s no reason to think it’s not happening at every level of humanity and in every occupation.

There have been some notable same-sex accusations, but mostly not.[3] No, mostly it’s women coming out of the woodwork, rightly recognizing that it is now safe to share their stories.

It’s right for these men to be exposed. I can only imagine—but be very sure that I can clearly imagine—what I would do if my wife or daughter came home with such a story.

A New Morality?

But are we experiencing a new morality—a fresh rise of righteousness? Should we expect to find actresses showing less skin, movies depicting less promiscuous sex, or less cases if Hollywood adultery? No. Megyn Kelley, who has her stake in this saga with Roger Ailes and now Charlie Rose, says “We are in the middle of an empowerment revolution.”[4]

This is about the empowerment of women. It’s about women asserting the “right” to elicit the lustful admiration of men and women while also exercising their “right” to punish any expression of that admiration. Please Note: In no way are non-consensual sex, groping, rape, etc. appropriate expressions of admiration, although, in America, it may be that it has become more normal than we thought. This of course does not make it right.

Are Women Complicit?

Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas, in response to a Aly Raisman’s (her Olympic teammate) claim of harassment, said:

“However, it is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy. Dressing in a  provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd,”[5]

Douglas felt pressured to apologize when Raisman, tweeted:

“Just to be clear . . .

“Just because a woman does a sexy photo shoot or wears a sexy outfit does not give a man the right to shame her or not believe her when she comes forward about sexual abuse.”

“What is wrong with some of you? AND when a woman dresses sexy it does not give a man the right to sexually abuse her EVER.”

“Woman (sic) are allowed to feel sexy and comfortable in their own skin, in fact I encourage you all to wear what you feel good in.”

“I will not put up with any woman being shamed for wanting to wear a skirt, dress, etc. I do not tolerate it. Are we clear?”

“Oh, and one more thing. STOP VICTIM SHAMING. It is because of you that so many survivors live in fear.”[6]

As a general rule, I couldn’t tell you what Aly Raisman thinks on any given day. In fact, I would typically need a reminder of who she is—something to jog my memory of the Winter Olympics, etc. But, because she grabbed the mic, we were treated to an inside look at her thought processes which seem to represent the opinion of many women in our culture, particularly women in Raisman’s generation, at least to some degree.

There is at least one thing in her tweet that is absolutely true: under no circumstance is it excusable or permissible for a man to shame or sexually abuse any woman. However, are women really being shamed, as Raisman tweeted, for simply wanting to wear a dress? Is that what Gabby was doing? Hardly! It is disingenuous for Raisman to reduce Gabby’s statement to shame for wearing a dress. If one Google’s Aly Raisman and clicks on “images,” he or she will find many sexually provocative, bordering on sexually visceral photos she has posed for, which, in America, serve only to show her sexual prowess, promote careers, and generate cash. Her photos, whether she knows it or not, say, “Hello, fellas! This is what you would get if you could have me.” Raisman is not just “wearing dresses” in these photos. Gabby, who should never have apologized, was absolutely right on when she bravely tweeted:

“ . . . it is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy. Dressing in a  provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd . . .”

Consider Some Questions and Examples

Do I have the right to store all of my diamonds, gold, stores of cash, and other valuables in a cardboard box in the center of my front lawn? Yes. If I did so, would it be wrong if someone came along and took for themselves what they wanted out of the box? Yes. Consequently, though I am no lawyer, I would assume that, in a court of law, those rights would be upheld. However, before the judge sent the perpetrator to the Big House and adjourned the courtroom, I suspect he or she would have a few words for me, the plaintiff. I think those words might include, but not be limited to, the question, “How stupid are you?”

The question arises, “To what degree are the women reporting these abuses complicit in the crimes that took place?” Let me hasten to say that, in America, these women have the “right” to dress as provocatively as the law allows (in Times Square these days the law seems to be allowing a lot[7]). But does that so-called right free them from all personal responsibility?

A few weeks ago, a beautiful young woman in her twenties woke up on a Sunday morning on Long Island (I assume she didn’t fly in just for the occasion), went to her closet or chest of drawers or wherever she keeps her clothing, and made the conscious choice to select what is called a “Cat Suit” (Google it). When I saw her she was not using a blind cane or a guide dog, so I know she was not blind. Therefore, when she put on the Cat Suit, and looked in the mirror (I would conjecture that people who wear Cat Suits are the people who look long in the mirror), she saw what I saw: a skin tight piece of apparel revealing every curve, bump, indention, crevice (I am sorry to be so explicit) of her body. She then said to herself I think I will get in my car and drive to a building where I know there will be hundreds of men and women who also will see what I see in the mirror. And she did. The question we have to answer is, “Why?” It’s not a question of rights. She had the right to show her body to the world (although in the particular building she entered, she was at odds with the moral standards of the house and could have been asked to leave since it was private property). Surely she would not have claimed to be oblivious to the way she looked? Surely, if asked whether she knew that men were going to look at her and likely fantasize about her she would not have claimed ignorance? Did she wear it only because it was comfortable? Are there no other comfortable pieces of clothing she could have worn that day?

What does it say about us when we need to celebrate our bodies? Have we slipped back into the orgies of the Roman Empire? Are some women so self-engrossed in themselves that the most satisfying thing they can do for themselves is, essentially show the world what they look like naked? How is it that we have arrived at such an oxymoronic moment in the history of Western Culture when one can, on one hand, decry sexual exploitation and objectivism only because, on the other hand, it intrudes on one’s own self-exploitation and objectification? If women are really wanting to be treated fairly and respected, why would they not rather display something they are responsible for: something they have accomplished, written, done for others, etc?

Selling Out

Let’s talk about the actresses who were wrongfully assaulted but said nothing because they wanted to become famous? Let’s talk about the models who sell themselves to the companies taking their pictures for the very purpose of exploiting their sexuality so that, in the end, they too may become rich and famous? What is the going price for getting someone to take sexually explicit pictures of themselves for public consumption?

There’s no way around it—the men who have sexually exploited, abused, assaulted, and raped women are pigs and deserve what is coming to them. But I’m tired of the women helping to sexualize our culture by flaunting their bodies in every movie, every commercial, every place of work, every public venue. They are responsible for the image they cast and for the thoughts they inspire. And while they may have a legal right to do it, they reserve no place on the moral high ground. They shouldn’t be celebrated for their bodies or their sexuality. Doesn’t that just fly in the face of their sisters who are not so, shall we say, marketable? What is it saying to them?

NOTES

[1] http://time.com/5019182/george-hw-bush-groping-allegation/

[2] http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/international/ct-gabby-douglas-gymnastics-team-doctor-20171122-story.html

[3] http://www.dailycal.org/2017/11/17/uc-san-francisco-employee-sues-former-supervisor-for-alleged-sex-harassment/

[4] http://www.adweek.com/tvnewser/megyn-kelly-on-roger-ailes-im-looking-at-a-dirty-old-man-who-wants-to-get-in-my-pants/348005 https://www.msn.com/en-us/tv/news/this-is-not-a-pleasant-story-for-me-megyn-kelly-opens-up-about-her-own-experience-with-charlie-rose/ar-BBFsaRn?li=BBnbfcL

[5] http://www.newschannel5.com/news/national/gabby-douglas-apologizes-to-aly-raisman-says-she-was-also-abused-by-team-physician

[6] https://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2017/11/gabby-douglas-victim-blames-aly-raisman-apologizes/

[7] https://nypost.com/2017/07/30/desnudas-have-gone-wild-in-times-square/

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