“Sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women.”
–Phyllis Schlafly 1924-2016
A question has been percolating in the back of my mind for some time and now given all that has been going on in the news seems like the perfect time to address it. And that question is: are rape and sexual assault really considered crimes?
Let’s look at some recent stories. It was heralded as a tremendous victory that actor and comedian Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years and was described by the presiding judge as a ‘violent sexual predator.’ But all I could think was, three years ?! He could be out in as little as three years for that? Okay, maybe in Mr. Cosby’s case three years is significant, since he is 81 years old. But what about if the perpetrator was, say, 41 years old? He would be out at only age 44, and those measly three years hardly seem like much of a deterrent to me.
And who can forget Brock Turner? Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky sentenced the then-Stanford student to a whopping six months in jail followed by three years probation for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The judge imposed this lenient sentence, far less than the six years recommended by prosecutors, or the 14 year maximum, because of the “severe impact it would have on him.” Certainly wouldn’t want to interfere with Mr. Turner’s so-called bright future now would we?
Turner served three months in the county jail.
And now there’s another very recent story out of Alaska where a 34 year old man offered a stranded woman a ride. He kidnapped her, choked her unconscious, and sexually assaulted her. He pleaded guilty to these crimes. His sentence? A deal with the state resulted in NO jail time. None, Zilch, Zippo!
In other words, rape and sexual assault aren’t really treated as crimes.
So what does all this have to do with adoption? Well, besides being indicative of the second-class and powerless status of women (and I’ve always thought adoption is a feminist issue), rape does lead to unwanted pregnancies. And now with the Supreme Court of the United States the closest it has ever been to overturning Roe v. Wade, women who became pregnant through rape will have one less option to choose from as to how they want to deal with the consequences. And there are also whispers that along with nearly eliminating access to abortions–except for those few states that already had the laws on the books before Roe became the law of the land–birth control access itself could be in jeopardy. But we will leave that topic for another day–hopefully things will never progress that far.
I realize that many legislators feel there should be exceptions made in the case of rape, incest and danger to the health of the mother. But what requirements will be enforced to prove rape? Will there have to be a police report, medical records from an emergency room, a (most likely never processed) rape kit? All of which will put another undue burden on the woman who has been the victim of a heinous crime, especially given that, according to FBI statistics, rape is the most underreported crime with an estimated 63% of rapes and sexual assaults never being reported at all.
But in practice what will most likely happen is that ‘choosing’ adoption will be simplified once again, just like it was during the Baby Scoop era. Now for the best description of what giving up a child does to the mother, I will leave that to my friend, Lorraine Dusky, who can certainly write about those effects better than I can being that I am an adoptee and not a first mother.
But underneath all this talk about overturning Roe v. Wade I believe is another agenda. And that is, a concerted effort to impose a lifestyle and moral choices that are not suitable for everyone along with a concomitant punishment for not adhering to certain rigid standards. Personally, I think women should make their own choices about their sexuality and not be pigeonholed into one version of how they should be. Although I will add one caveat: I wouldn’t blame any young lady, especially millennial women, if they choose to tell men to take a hike if they are no longer free to make their own choices about their reproductive health in consultation with their doctor. I mean, why should so many guys get to expect sex as part of dating when the girl will no longer have free agency to do what she considers best in the event of an unplanned pregnancy? The honeymoon may be over, guys (albeit anyone who thinks we are really going to have a country where people only have sex when they’re married is living in a dream world). I’ve helped people born out-of-wedlock as far back as the 1930s find their birth parents. Couples have always had sex out of wedlock and always will.
So back to the Phyllis Schlafly quote I used at the beginning of this post, “Sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women.” Hahaha. Men must be laughing their heads off reading something like that. To have a woman, no less, giving them permission to harass females on the job since the woman, according to Mrs. Schlafly, should be blamed for the man’s boorish/ offensive, even potentially dangerous behavior. Besides, how does one define being ‘virtuous’ on the job? Does it mean a woman who doesn’t wear a short skirt, lowers her gaze when speaking to a man, doesn’t speak up in meetings or bring a lot of attention to herself? What??
Of course, this post would not be complete without a look at the sexual assault story du jour, that of Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Given that Judge Kavanaugh has been confirmed to sit on the highest court in the land, why on earth would any woman bother to come forward in the future? Who would be crazy enough to want to subject themselves to death threats, inadvertently put their entire family’s lives in danger, having to flee their home and hire bodyguards for protection? No one, that’s who. And now there’s even a conspiracy theory that Dr. Blasey Ford is some kind of Democratic operative who was paid by Democrats (by whom? A Senator, a Representative, the Democratic National Committee?) to thwart Kavanaugh’s nomination. Obviously, neither I nor any of our readers were witnesses to this incident, but Dr. Ford was a credible witness who had nothing to gain and, as I outlined, everything to lose by coming forward. Once again, I can’t help but be reminded that sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape are primarily crimes against women and, as such, will probably never be as important as crimes against men.
All of which reminds me of an old saying from the ‘good old days’, an expression that was considered passe even in my youth… “IT’S A MAN’S WORLD.” Well, it certainly seems that even today, 27 years after the Clarence Thomas- Anita Hill fiasco, it’s still very much a man’s world. Over and over when it’s a man’s word over a woman’s, especially the word of a powerful white man, his voice will win in the end. So maybe it’s time we revive that prematurely discounted saying. It too often still holds true.
*Image courtesy of OccupyDemocrats