Last night I could not sleep. I lay awake trying to sort out my emotions and going over the words I had exchanged with my husband a few hours earlier regarding the allegations of inappropriate sexual advances leveled against President George H. W. Bush (# 41). My first response when hearing the latest news was “Leave the old man in peace. He’s in a wheelchair and probably senile.” I couldn’t help but think of my father who spent the last four years of his life in a wheelchair, scooting around the nursing home (he used his feet to walk the chair forward) in a fog, flirting with any woman who came into view. His behavior earned him the nick name Don Juan among the staff. He even flirted with me and my sisters when we visited, not knowing we were his daughters. But as far as I know, he never grabbed anyone’s butt, instead he would say things like “You’re a nice looking young woman. Are you married?” and then he’d usually ask if he could take you home to meet his “folks.” Harmless, sweet, but inappropriate. But what if he had groped us, what If he was a holy terror on the floor and was referred to as “that dirty old man” instead of “Scooby Do” and “Don Juan”? Would I still feel affection for him? What if suddenly women started coming forward and saying that he had grabbed their asses over 25 years ago? How would I feel then? I believe that I would probably want them to keep quiet and not disturb our family or the image we had of our old dying father. Does that make me culpable?
That is how I found myself on the wrong side of the argument when I began defending President Bush. My husband was saying all the right things; “This has to come out.” “I have three daughters and I don’t want them to feel unsafe around men.” and “You are being hypocritical, ready to burn Roy Moore and Harvey Weinstein, but to give Bush a pass because you like him.”
My meager defense was, “Why does it matter now?” “What good will it do to drag this old man’s name through the mud?” “He didn’t rape anyone?” I eventually realized the flaw in my reasoning and stopped defending the indefensible. Then last night as I lay in bed, I started making a mental list of those accused, (the names I could recall), and noted my first gut reaction upon hearing each allegation.
Here’s a shortened version of that list:
Harvey Weinstein – He’s creepy. – Guilty.
Roy Moore – A truly despicable human being. – Guilty.
Louis C.K. – Never liked his monologues about masturbation. – Guilty.
Kevin Spacey – Bad mojo from playing such an evil character in House of Cards. – Guilty.
Bill O’Riley – A big bully. – Guilty.
Donald Trump – Of course – Guilty
Bill Cosby – NO! Say it ain’t so. Then after overwhelming evidence – Guilty.
Al Franken – He’s a good person, I like him, but I believe his accuser. – Guilty, BUT..….
President George H. W. Bush – He’s like my father. – Guilty, BUT..….
From the previous century:
Clarence Thomas – Anita Hill is brave and awesome. – Guilty.
Bill Clinton – Disgusted by the details involving a blue dress and a cigar. – Guilty
In these last two cases the women were made to look bad, and the men came out on top. And in the case of President Clinton, I believe that Monica Lewinsky was a victim of sexual exploitation. The President was a powerful man and she was a young intern of 25, his subordinate. But yet, she was portrayed as the initiator, the predator. After what happened to her, why would any woman who had engaged in sexual acts with a man who wielded power over her, come forward to tell about it? I am sure that the public treatment of these victims and many others, is why so many of the accusers are just now coming forward after so many years of silence. They did not want to be treated the way their predecessors were, ignored, denigrated, called liars, and sluts only to have nothing meaningful happen as a result of their candor.
So to summarize, I want this shit storm to stop. I don’t want to hear anymore allegation of sexual misconduct about anybody, BUT – I know I must hear and I must listen and I also know that I will almost always believe the accuser, woman or man or child. And so in the spirit of shining a light into the dark, I too will tell my story. Check it out in my next post #MeToo. And as always comments are welcome.