The new book I’m working on, tentatively titled “Constellations of Alice” is heavier than the cozy mysteries I’ve been writing. But Alice has been bugging me for a few years to tell her story, so here I am.
One of the themes in this book is sex trafficking. I’ve been doing a lot of research on this (and sexual assault in general) and I can tell you, the statistics are shocking.
One in 5 women and one in 71 men will be raped in their lifetime.
This has to change.
And it can. I believe it can. But it has to start with changing the mind-set of our society.
This whole Donald Trump thing has blown up an important issue and started a dialog about sexual assault. The silver lining in a very vile, dark cloud.
His lewd comments about women and about being able to kiss them or grab their private parts whenever he wants amounts to sexual assault. The fascinating and disturbing thing to me was watching the fall-out as both men and women defended his talk as “locker room banter.” Including a GOP Senator who doesn’t think grabbing a woman’s genitals is sexual assault.
So what? All guys talk about women like this. Just words, right?
Well, NO. Wrong. Words are nothing more than an outward expression of a person’s mind-set.
This mind-set is dangerous. He thinks this way so he speaks this way so he acts this way. And he’s had more than one woman accuse him of sexual assault or rape.
Including a thirteen year old girl.
His ex-wife. (Who, under oath, accused him of violently raping her. His chief counsel’s defense was, “One can’t rape one’s own spouse.” Just. Wow.)
A business acquaintance.
I’ll stop there because this is actually not about one man. The problem is bigger than that.
This is about the culture we live in. A culture where abusive masculine power has taken root and allowed men like this to terrorize women.
How do we fix this? Well, I can tell you the answer is not just laying down and accepting it. Nor is it women covering our faces or our bodies or staying indoors or being escorted by a male guardian everywhere we go.
The answer is men changing the way they think about women. Period. (And I know there are good men out there who don’t talk or think this way, but since 98% of sexual assault perpetrators are male, this has to be addressed as a male problem.)
It’s been encouraging to see the men who are standing up against this kind of abusive speech and behavior. But it’s time for the others, the “boys” who are being “boys” to grow up and become men. To drop your sense of entitlement. To see women as more than body parts there for your entertainment.
It’s also time for women to stand up and stop tolerating this mindset as “normal” male behavior. It may very well be the norm right now, but when men know better they can do better. So please stop defending “locker room talk” as innocent and harmless.
Amen, Sister!! “Locker room talk” is absolutely no excuse (even if it was only that, which I don’t believe). Such talk needs to stop because it gives permission to act accordingly.
I guess maybe as writers we realize the power in words… but yes, this seems like common sense to me.
Well said, Shannon! Good for you.
Your book sounds very interesting to me. (I’m actually not much of a cozy reader, preferring darker books.) I’ve also been wanting to carve out sometime to get more involved in the prevention of sex trafficking for years.
Thank you, Vinnie. You know, I was so naïve about all this before I started researching for this book. I thought sex trafficking was only a problem in other countries. Nope. Turns out Florida, California and Texas are huge players in trafficking. So, we’re both in good places to help.
I’ve always hated the “boys will be boys” excuse for bad behavior, even before I had two girls. And it’s not just sexual. Boys bullying girls in K thru 5. How many times I heard “boys will be boys.” Yeah, and with that attitude, they’ll grow up to be monsters.
I guess my dad set a good example.
Sounds like you had a very wise, compassionate dad, Jon. And he would be proud of the man you became, I’m sure.
It’s a problem that has been going on for centuries and yet doesn’t seem to change. A lot of bad things that happened in the past are finally being recognized and “fixed,” yet this problem does not. I’m beginning to think it’s something in our DNA. No matter how often the subject is talked about, it doesn’t improve.
I wish I had a solution. I wish schools would make topics like this part of their curriculum. Education is key, but I’m afraid our public education system is failing as well. It’s a big vicious cycle.
Thanks for being brave and blogging about it. More people need to start talking about the ugliness of this violence.
w/a Jansen Schmidt
It hasn’t changed because no one is doing anything to change it. This behavior & attitude toward women has become the accepted norm. But, I think all the controversy lately surrounding not just this, but the recent spotlight on rape trials like Brock Turner’s and the short sentences handed down. If they even get convicted, which is about 2% of cases. This is good though, a dialog has started at least. But you’re right. Education is key.
To watch lawmakers say that Trump’s comments are “just words” is frustrating. All they do in their work is to put together words. Speeches, laws, the Constitution are made of words.
LOL, yeah the irony, right Roberta? Words are how we express our intentions for our actions. People say eyes are the windows to the soul….but I think our words are. Words can show the ugliness of someone’s soul pretty quickly.