In response to a recent opinion piece submitted to EBONY.com ("How To Kill A Mogul In The Era Of #MeToo" written by Stacy Brown and published on March 18), I'd like to offer some "real talk" of my own.
In recent years, there have been multiple accusations of nonconsensual sexual encounters from women from all walks of life. Several men, from a similarly diverse cross-section, have been accused of sexual assault and impropriety. Unfortunately, it's been said, that if a woman reports that a man of power has sexually abused her, other women that have been associated with that same man will report false accusations just to get a piece of the pie. Society then tends to prosecute the accused before knowing all the facts. Conversely, it stands to reason that sexual predators rarely limit themselves to one instance of criminal sexual activity and so claims brought forward by additional women serve to bolster the credibility of the initial claim.
Mr. Brown writes of due process and our constitutional right to "the presumption of innocence" yet fails to acknowledge that, to date, Mr. Simmons has been only charged and not convicted in a court of law. Thus, his rights remain intact. I'll leave to the side Mr. Brown's unnecessarily hyperbolic depiction of the allegations against Mr. Simmons as a "killing" since research has shown that women who have been impacted by sexual abuse are far more likely to lose their actual lives than the men accused of it.
Let there be no doubt that it remains the man's responsibility to control his actions. No means no. And indeed a sexual assault can have occurred with or without any physical evidence. Some men believe that since they have a loaded bank account that they have the right to call the shots with the woman. They take the female out, wine and dine her, take her to a room and he has his way with her, although she doesn't agree to it. The woman files charges against him and he pays off an attorney or whomever to have the charges dropped. This seems to be a trend in the justice system which allows a guilty accused free and a victim violated.
I'd like to offer up additional "comprehensive" studies to consider alongside that presented by Mr. Brown: A study released by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center states that incidents of false reporting of sexual assault range between 2%-10%. Let's do the math.
While reading the #MeToo editorial, I was disturbed by how much detailed information was exposed about the women. Sexual assault is a serious matter and this type of editorial could be potentially dangerous for the victims. It was obvious the women were very familiar with their accused, but that fact does nothing to diminish their very credible allegations. In fact, a study by Glasgow University in 2018 found that more than 90% of rape and sexual assault victims knew their attacker. Many of these assaults occur on dates or in intimate scenarios. Mr. Brown's research into the accusers is a textbook attempt to slut-shame these women. Witness how in many of these cases, the accusers' professional ambition is weaponized against them in an attempt to portray them as opportunists. Yes, they sought proximity to a boss, superior and titan of industry exposure to whom could benefit their professional standing. None of that has any bearing on whether or not they were assaulted.
As a woman, and a mother of a 19-year-old daughter, it's good to know that there is a "#MeToo Movement". For decades, women of all ages have been silenced from feeling guilty and embarrassed about being raped or fondled, which are reasons why so many rape cases have not been reported. I have personally spoken to several women that have been sexually assaulted but were too devastated to tell their stories. Because of that, the accused will probably never be brought to trial.
A cursory review of Mr. Brown's prior work reveals that he is the author of several books on high profile sex abuse cases. Might I suggest as his next project a step-by-step handbook written for victims of sexual assault detailing the ways (and sequence) in which they absolutely, positively and without fail MUST respond to their sexual assault to have their claims taken seriously? How else will they know that the trauma they experience in the aftermath of their rape is no excuse not to immediately report the incident to law enforcement? How else will they know that working in a professional setting alongside someone who harasses or assaults them means they will have to forgo their career and paycheck by no longer going to work? How else will they know that their fundamental mistrust of how victims of sexual assault are re-victimized by a broken criminal justice system is no excuse at all not to immediately go public with one of the most embarrassing and inhumane experiences of their lives?
In current times, because of the #MeToo Movement, more and more women are speaking out about their sexual misconduct experiences, hence, being criticized if it's taken them months or even years to report it. A crime is a crime and must be addressed however long it takes. Some women tend to block out a traumatic experience and it could take months or years for a woman to face the realization that rape is a serious issue. Women need to stick together and support each other during these times. If you're able, report it to the authorities if you've been sexually abused. Don't let him take advantage of you. Don't be intimidated by a man just because he's a famous athlete or a famous singer or any man of power. He's still human, he's still a man and he's still guilty of a crime.
Although freedom of speech is practiced in our country, voices of rape victims should not be shunned or taken lightly. Men are being raped as well and their voices should be heard too.
#MeToo Movement has become essential in our communities. It's given many women voices who have been sexually abused who don't have to stand alone.
The national rape hotline: 800-656-4673. This will route you to a local number in your area.
Robin P. is a native New Yorker that's written several published articles and two published books. She enjoys traveling, baking and going to the beach.