Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sexual predators

Two stories about (alleged) sexual predators in the news this past week—one a very high-profile ‘money’ man (Dominique Strauss-Kahn) whose putative crash and burn story will preoccupy writers and psychologists for years to come; the other a rather odd story of a man who advertised for a live-in housekeeper over the internet (I believe it was through craigslist—an already questionable site), whose main intent was to find himself a sex slave that he could imprison and control. It’s strange that both stories appeared almost at the same time, and yet, knowing the vagaries of the universe, not so strange. I puzzle though over both these stories. What were these men thinking, to paraphrase Jay Leno’s question to Hugh Grant after he was literally caught with his pants down with a prostitute. I mean really, what were they thinking? That they would never get caught, just because they hadn’t been caught up to this point? Does that type of cockiness make you stupid? It doesn’t matter though what they thought ultimately, because I’m glad if two of the many sexual predators out there were taken off the streets. And high-profile sexual predators who believe that their power and clout will help them escape have some rude surprises in store for them. It seems as though the USA is fairly intent these days on punishing convicted rapists to the fullest extent of the law. It seems that way anyhow from what I read in the news. And that’s good, I say, because Europe, or at least Scandinavia where I live, does not punish rapists severely. Prison sentences for rape average three to four years from what I have seen from the outcome of rape cases that come to court. And from what I can see of the Third World where women have little to no status anyway, raping women seems to be something men can get away with a lot of the time, with all of the nasty repercussions for women that men never seem to suffer. Rape has been used as a weapon in the civil war in Congo, rape is apparently rampant in Haiti, and so on. And I need only think of the story about the CBS News correspondent Lara Logan who was brutally raped while covering the resignation of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. And then I think-- if there is a God, I want him/her/it to smite these men down. That’s the prayer I send out into the universe. “I hope God is coming, and I hope she is pissed”—in whatever form it needs to take. Just let women and the good men be protected from whatever comes.

We will always have men who need to control women, who view women as beneath them and who need to exercise physical and sexual power over them. I don’t understand the psychology of these men nor do I really care to. I just want the world to change. I want respect for women, justice for women, equal rights for women, fair play for women. Everywhere. Because it is only in a world where women are respected that we will find the peace that we are looking for as global citizens. I cannot believe in the prospect of world peace until women around the world enjoy the same rights as men in every country—the right to an education, to a job, to free choice as to whether they will marry and raise a family, free choice as to whom they wish to marry, free choice to divorce, to travel, to amass wealth, to have an opinion—in short, all the rights that men take for granted. And men take them for granted. The fact that they can take them for granted endows them with a self-confidence and a swagger that most women I know don’t have and will never have, because if they behaved in the same way they’d be told to can the behavior or to keep their mouths shut or to stop acting so high-and-mighty. When all societies raise their boys and girls to look forward to enjoying exactly the same rights, then I’ll say that we’ve evolved as human beings. Until that time comes, I will continue to respond to the rhetoric about how the world has changed and about how far women have come with my own individual free-choice adult thoughts and voice—so much hot air, so many empty promises. There is a time for smiting, and that time is coming. 

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