I just can’t even with this Roy Moore case. First of all, let’s give credit where it is due (where it is usually due) – thank you Black people, particularly Black Women, who voted for Doug Jones 98%. Black men held strong at 93% for Doug Jones. White women shamefully voted 63% for Roy Moore—a pedophile. And white men of course sucked the most with 72% voting for this pathetic excuse for a man.
That might seem shocking to some people so let me explain why it shouldn’t be. The woman (now women) who have come forward to accuse Moore were teenagers, as young as 14, when first approached by Moore. Girls start getting sexualized almost as soon as they are identified as girls and it gets progressively worse as they approach womanhood. Our society has not only accepted this, it encourages it. I see an article about the sexualization of Stranger Things actors every week. They haven’t even hit puberty. Girls don’t get protected in their childhood. They don’t get to be children. They get groomed by society to become the kind of women that men will want. And that starts early. Boys play with trucks and girls play with Barbies. Thinking girls as “pre-women” is so engrained in our society that by the time girls are teenagers it is nothing to think of them as sexual objects. Not a crime, he just likes ‘em young.
The other reason that no one should be surprised that Moore’s stalking of girls didn’t immediately turn voters off is that he was targeting girls. Crimes against girls and women are not real crimes. That’s why you hear people refer to sexual assault (a crime) as “sexual misconduct” (frowned upon behavior). If we referred to the murder of a man as “life interference” or any other nonsense softening of the crime no one would stand for it. But softening the term sexual assault to sexual misconduct is perfectly acceptable.
We see the phenomenon of crimes against women and girls not being real crimes not just in the media’s presentation but in the criminal justice system itself. That’s why a man convicted of the rape of an unconscious stranger can serve 92 days in jail. And while that’s shocking, the truth is that 99% of rapists will never serve any time, mostly because rape is so under reported. And it’s no surprise that women don’t want to report. Out of the cases that are reported to police, only 2% of perpetrators will spend time in prison. Domestic violence is another one of the most prevalent experiences for women. 33% of women have experience intimate partner violence (for a little comparison, only 25% of women consistently orgasm during vaginal intercourse). Whatever consequences men are facing for domestic violence, it isn’t serving as a deterrent because it is still painfully common.
Lastly, if Moore had been targeting teenage boys, his career would have immediately ended, like Wes Goodman. Because Moore’s behavior was heteronormative, it was “not a factor at all” for most people deciding if they should vote for him. Prey on girls, no big deal. Prey on boys, career ender. We can debate whether that’s true because of homophobia or sexism (my guess is both), but the fact remains that when people in the public eye get caught targeting boys it is a bigger deal than when they are caught targeting girls.
If these statistics enraged you as much as they did me there are things you can do. Instead of just thanking Black Women (as I did in the first paragraph) provide financial support. Instead of giving to a political party—none of them are as “progressive” as they think they are—give directly to a Black candidate (preferably a woman). If you were touched by Tarana Burke’s #MeToo action, consider giving to the program she currently directs, Girls for Gender Equality.
If you are currently experiencing domestic violence, please reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the US or the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the UK (both good places to donate as well).
Article by Claire Ryder
VERVE Operative USA & Humanitarian Activist