Sexual assault and harassment are topics that have been all around us in the past few weeks. From Harvey Weinstein’s history of extreme sexual abuse to recent accusations against George H.W. Bush, we are seeing men being called out by their victims. We are seeing women standing up against these predators and standing behind each other. We are seeing #MeToo across social media, expressing solidarity amongst sexual violence victims. It’s an emotionally and mentally exhausting time, but it is one that is maybe fueling change in the way we police and treat women’s bodies. Women are reclaiming their space and their voices by telling their stories about sexual assault by powerful men.
Unfortunately, there are still trolls on social media, relatives, perfect strangers, peers, and coworkers who are rape and sexual assault apologists. You know these people, and unfortunately, they may be men or women. They attempt to discredit women who have been sexually abused by asking bogus questions like, “Why didn’t they come forward years ago?” and dismissing claims of violence against men as just a way for women to “get money” in settlements. These individuals encourage rape culture and are exhausting, awful humans to be around.
Let me offer some ways to put these morons in their place when they come at you with this bullshit.
1. “It was years ago, who cares?”
I heard this one a lot when the clip of Trump bragging about grabbing women by their genitals surfaced. I literally heard people say that it didn’t matter what he said because it was so long ago and that it’s in the past.
If someone tries to dismiss you or any woman’s claim of sexual assault based on the length of time between the abuse and the present, ask this piece of shit if they would be fine with someone murdering an innocent person, and then a decade later, having the case dismissed because since the killing was so long ago, the victim’s family doesn’t deserve justice.
2. “Why are these women just now talking about their assaults? They just want attention.”
Ah, the classic, misogynistic assumption that women just want everything to be about them. If a sexual assault apologist tries to pull this, inform them that many, if not most, women stay quiet about their assault because they are afraid of retaliation, demotion or termination at work, continued physical and sexual abuse, and don’t trust the justice system in general to strongly advocate enough for sexual abuse survivors.
3. “Well, what did they expect? Boys will be boys.”
Boys and men will be fucking held responsible for their actions.
4. “Women are only accusing him because he’s rich and they want a fat check from a settlement.”
Look here! More misogynistic bullshit about women having their own personal motives when telling their painful, personal stories about sexual assault. Tell these fools that women are not after money because no amount of cash can erase sexual abuse and its long-term physical and emotional effects. Also, point out that it’s usually men and their lawyers who offer up settlements in order to keep their victims “quiet.” See: Bill O’Reilly’s entire disgusting life.
5. “She’s lying.”
This is exactly what the White House said this week about Trump’s victims. If someone flat out makes this statement, tell this piece of trash in no uncertain terms that they are perpetuating rape culture by not believing women. Never dismiss a woman’s claim that she was sexually harassed or abused. She knows what happened. You do not. By dismissing victims’ truths, rape apologists empower the abuser.
Women should not have to fight, over and over, to have their experiences validated and understood. Shut down anyone who makes problematic statements or asks victim-blaming questions. Sexual assault apologists will not be given a platform to shame women for the degrading acts men have forced on them.