Herman Cain sexual allegations: a reminder for women to speak up
The allegations of sexual harassment against Herman Cain follow a too-familiar story line. There is still tacit acceptance that some men in power are sexually exploitative. But women are starting to shine a floodlight on behavior that used to lurk in the shadows.
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But it would be inaccurate to claim that it doesn’t frighten me that there are some men out there – real men with girlfriends and wives and children, who have jobs and influence and the right to vote – who can apparently live with their choice to send emails like this: “You’re good rape meat” and “[You] deserve to die at the rusty scissors of a backstreet abortionist.”Skip to next paragraph
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Hard to read those? Imagine how hard it was to receive them. And then imagine that it was okay for someone to hit send on an email that contained those words, that dehumanizing sentiment. Imagine that a man – whether Cain or not – could live with himself after allegedly pulling a woman’s head toward his lap and saying, “You want a job, don’t you?”
This is not some hyperbolic dystopia concocted by angry, man-hating feminists. It is filling even the insatiable hunger of the mainstream media as of late – story after story. For instance, William Adams, a Texas judge who everyone thought was “a good person,” according to his daughter, Hillary, who just last week released a tape of him repeatedly lashing her for downloading pirated content from the Internet.
What leaves me hopeful, despite all this dehumanization, is this: Women are starting to unapologetically shine a blinding floodlight on the behavior that used to lurk in the shadows. Building on the legacies of brave women before us – like Anita Hill, who 20 years ago, planted the seed of this new audacious documentation.
We are blogging, filming, tweeting, and testifying to our experiences. We are gathering, whether metaphorically or literally, and giving one another strength through solidarity. We are living feminist visionary Audre Lorde’s profound reminder: “Your silence will not protect you.”
Courtney E. Martin is the author of the new book, “Project Rebirth: Survival and the Strength of the Human Spirit from 9/11 Survivors,” as well as “Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists,” “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body,” and coeditor of the anthology “Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists.” She is also editor emeritus at feministing.com. Read more about her work at www.courtneyemartin.com.
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