Holding Sexual Predators Accountable, from the Box Office to the Ballot Box

If you haven’t heard of the recent controversy surrounding Judge Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for senate in Alabama who is the most recent target of sexual misconduct allegations, then you haven’t been listening.

Judge Moore, who many feel is unfit for public office to begin with due to the racist, sexist, and homophobic agenda that he’s pushed throughout his career, has denied these allegations vehemently, saying he’s never met these women (though there’s evidence to the contrary, including his signature in the high school yearbook of one of his accusers) and saying that he’s never dated a young woman without her mother’s permission (which is problematic on so many levels).

Many from Moore’s own party have come forward asking for him to drop out of his race for the senate. Days ago, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a public statement saying that, in this case, “I believe the women.”

But according to a recent state poll by JMC Analytics, since these allegations came forward, evangelical Christians in Alabama say they are more likely to support Moore.

What in the world is happening? Is it better to elect a sex offender than a democrat?

I’m not sure what is more troubling. That Judge Moore made it to this high of a station to begin with, even though he suggested just this year that 9/11 was God’s punishment for homosexuality?

Or that fellow Christians, including Alabama state auditor, Jim Ziegler, keep coming to Moore’s aid, some by using biblical justification for his actions, saying that Mary was a teen when she married Joseph, and after all, “They were the parents of Jesus.” Oh lord.

Maybe what is so troubling is that many of us, including myself, are raising young daughters in heavily-evangelical Christian communities, and even if we don’t raise them with this sort of ideology, they could be influenced by a friend who holds these views. I know this thought terrifies me.

I am troubled that republicans and democrats alike seem to be able to come together to condemn the likes of people like Harvey Weinstein or Louis CK. But when it comes to our elected officials, we seem quick to write off these allegations in the name of promoting our party lines.

This is not solely a republican problem. Caitlin Flanagan of The Atlantic, just this week, offered a thoughtful piece about our need to hold Bill Clinton accountable for his misconduct as well. Weeks ago, many of us became aware of misconduct by former president George H.W. Bush. Unfortunately, rape culture in this country continues to be a bipartisan problem.

So what can we do? How do we move forward? Already, we are seeing strong Twitter campaigns such as #MeToo and #MeAt14 which highlight the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault. We have more celebrities coming forward with their own stories, which may offer solace to those still sitting in the shadows of their trauma. Terry Crews recently reported his experience with sexual assault at the hands of a Hollywood executive, revealing that this is not just a problem for women but that men are victims of these abuses of power too. Sharing our stories helps; listening to each other helps.

Just last week, Louis CK released a statement admitting that the allegations against him were true and offering this realization: “The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.” I feel like his statement is a step, especially because so often the accused’s first response is to call their accusers liars.

What doesn’t help, though, is rhetoric that condemns accusers, that mocks or shames women, that claims that sexual conduct with minors could potentially be biblically justified, or that misogynistic, harassing conduct is “mere locker room talk.

As polarized as we are in this country, we need to put the party agenda aside and unite in condemning sexual predators, whether they are at the Box Office or in the Ballot Box.

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