Read Connor’s Letter

 

Dear Connor,

Sexism: What does it mean? Sexual discrimination: what does it mean? Sexual assault: what separates sexual assault from sexism and sexual discrimination?

Are sexism and sexual discrimination really the same, or have they evolved into a random ideology, understood thoroughly by only a few, which eventually opens a window to reverse abuse? Do the new interpretations of sexism and sexual discrimination downplay the seriousness of sexual assault?

In recent days, I have read about exorbitant cash settlements being handed out to accusers for what I considered only slightly lewd language, hardly rising to the level of a potential crime.

In both cases, a wealthy man said something arguably off-color to an alleged female victim. The female did not reciprocate the sentiment or suggestion. If she had, perhaps the two would be dating rather than haggling over money with threats of defamation.

The subject makes me furious, because there are real victims everywhere who are being physically and emotionally damaged. Generally, victims of sexist remarks or actions are not wealthy, and they lack the means and, more importantly, the representation to take on the offender.

I know that, if we choose to publish this letter, Connor, it is not going to be a positive experience for me, but real, accurate dialogue needs to begin.

I love New York. I attend writing-related meetings there twice annually and have for several years. Each time I step off the plane, for a fleeting moment, I think, This is where nearly everything in the world begins. New York City and the DC Beltway are unique locations —policies and trends are set in these locations that eventually affect all of us. Considering the recent elections, I think it is fair to say that the middle of the country pushed back on this status quo. Now, the ballot preferences of the American heartland — the “fly-over states” — are now being met with some resistance and pushback.

In the Upper East Coast region, an overwhelming number of women are highly educated and hold impressive professional positions. One might assume these women are strong survivors that would not stand to be anyone’s victim. Yet, along I-95 from Washington DC to New York City, a growing few are setting a precedent that is hurting other women and likely some stupid but not criminal men. Laughably, this is the corridor where some of the so-called “victims” are making huge salaries and are taking on even wealthier men for money. The men make allegedly salacious remarks or ask suggestive questions, and at the end is a huge payday for the “victim.”

Most women and some men could write a book filled with raunchy remarks that have been directed at them. Usually, the person on the receiving end doesn’t even think twice about seeing if the big-mouth jerk has a checkbook to go after. If it happens to an educated person at work, places of employment have protocols in place to handle the situation. If they don’t, and someone is uncomfortable with that, then they should find a new place of employment. Without the threat of consequences, alleged perpetrators of unwelcome comments can be seem simply as exercising his/her freedom of speech.

Again, no doubt, these men are jerks. We all know them. When women were stronger and more resilient, we laughed and called them womanizers. They didn’t own us: they didn’t faze us; we believed we had the upper hand, and we did.

What about real victims? Women victims of criminal intent are everywhere, injured physically and mentally abused. Who is rooting for them, speaking up in their defense? Out here in middle-America, attorneys aren’t eager to take on low-paying sexual-discrimination cases even though it’s the right thing to do. For the attorneys, the payday just isn’t big enough for them to take the case. Even if they did, the overtaxed court system would throw them out.

Ask the people who know all too well: police, social workers, doctors, and the victims’ children!

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports show thousands of rapes occur each year in the workplace. Nearly all the victims are indigent individuals in low-paying jobs; many are immigrants. Some are raped daily in the boss’s office. Almost none of them report the crime, because they can’t live without the job, nor is there an attorney waiting around the corner to help them. Even if they’re right, win or lose, they’re labeled and will never work again. Win, lose, or draw, when an employer sees that a potential employee has been involved on either side of legal proceedings, they just don’t want to take a chance.

Hugs,
Grace