Why I'm Not Scared

  • October 16, 2018
  • /   Rob
  • /   Feed_Blog

Note: The following post is entirely editorial and is political in nature- at least to the extent that "sexual assault is bad" can be said to be a political position. My opinions are my own and they do not necessarily reflect (or contradict) those of the rest of the band. I'll get back to the usual tour anecdotes and goofy non-sequiturs in a week or so.

In the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings, the President lamented that it was “a very scary time for young men." He's definitely not alone in thinking that way. In the intervening weeks, I've heard several of my male friends express anxiety over the notion that some phantom accuser could come out of the woodwork twenty years from now and destroy their lives with no more than a few words. If this had all happened a few years ago, before I started poisoning my mind with feminist propaganda listening to women's opinions about stuff, I may very well have had the same concerns.

Never mind that, statistically, men are more likely to be the victims of actual sexual assault than we are to be falsely accused of it; the notion that we are living in an era of “guilty until proven innocent” is patently absurd. The court of public opinion may be loud and it may be quick to pass judgment, but it has a short memory and an even shorter reach.  As for the real courts, percentage-wise, few instances of sexual assault lead to accusations, very few of those accusations lead to criminal proceedings, and virtually none of them end in convictions. When a victim comes forward, we are quick to ascribe ulterior motives: “she's doing it for her fifteen minutes of fame,” “she only 'cried rape' because the sex was bad,” etc., but the truth is that victims who come forward stand to gain nothing and often suffer for doing so.

Meanwhile, if you're a prospective Supreme Court Justice, being nominated in the spring of an election year has more devastating consequences than being accused of sexual assault by three different women. Brett Kavanaugh was forced to spend a few hours listening to people list the various reason why he is human garbage, and now he emerges unscathed and will enjoy a position of titanic power and influence for the rest of his life.

For the record, although I am personally inclined to believe his accusers (and accusers in general), I'm not necessarily saying that any of the allegations against Kavanaugh are true or false. As strange as it may sound, that's not really the point I'm trying to make here. The point is that, for the majority of powerful men accused, this kind of thing is nothing but a speed bump. Few will ever face any serious repercussions. Some will lose their jobs or “agree to transition to a new position within the company.” Many will withdraw from the public eye and live out their days in quiet luxury. Of the five U.S. Presidents whose time in office I can consciously remember, three have been accused of sexual assault. I don't see anybody renaming an airport or a library over it.

A handful of these men will at least appear to take their accusers seriously- to repent their actions and hopefully learn to be better and do better. But for most of them, this won't even result in a single moment of self-examination. Bill Cosby was accused of a litany of offenses- ranging from verbal harassment to outright drugging and raping his victims- by  enough women to fill the roster of an NFL team- and, in a rare turn of events, he was actually convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Nevertheless, he probably STILL doesn't think that any of what he did was wrong. He could be out of prison in as little as three years.

Until very recently, society has dealt with sexual assault the same way we deal with rain: it's just a part of life, and there's nothing we can do about it except try to plan our days accordingly. Didn't want to get wet? Should've checked the weather. Should've brought a raincoat. Should've carried an umbrella. Should've worn different shoes. Should've taken a cab. The onus of preventing assault has always fallen almost entirely upon the victim-particularly when the victim is female. For many women, the mere act of leaving the house involves a mile-long checklist of precautionary measures. I find it disheartening that, barely a year after every woman on earth came together and said "actually,pretty much all of us have been victims of some form of abuse,harassment, or assault," men's takeaway from what should have been a massive cultural watershed has already mutated into “jeepers, what if I get accused of something?” To view this burgeoning sensitivity to sexual assault as an unjust burden upon men- an ever-changing labyrinth of new rules about how to speak and conduct ourselves- is selfish and myopic. None of this is new. What's new is that we're actually expected to understand it, and that we're finally being asked to do our part in fixing it.