Keith Burris’ Feb. 4. column, “The last gentleman” is a perfect example of why it is so hard for men, and really for all of us, to understand the extent to which women have had to live with sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.
"The safest I have ever felt was on a street with thousands of women and men pressing in on me — at the Women’s March on Washington," writes Penny Tullis.
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I hate to break it to all those who want to go back to the “good old days” when women were looked at in an “idealized, romanticized, protective” way. Just because women are coming out now and naming their abusers and harassers does not mean that this constant barrage of demeaning and oftentimes criminal behavior has not been happening all along. It just means that women were silent about it.
When I saw this article I was appalled, not just at the ignorance of how women have been treated historically, but because it shows that some men are still not listening, still wrapped up in their own denial systems: “Surely, my generation was different, surely I am different.”
Women themselves underestimate the extent of the problem. Because girls and women are not believed, and because shaming and blaming women who come forward is the norm, women are silenced. As a result, women often thought that they were alone or part of some small group of survivors. I was sexually abused as a child. I did not “#MeToo” on my Facebook page because my abuser was himself just a child and a victim of sexual abuse (yes, it happens to boys and men too). Often I overlook the sexual harassment by the boys on the bus on the way to elementary school or the boy who I often fought off after catechism. I often overlook these incidents because we have been enculturated that sexual harassment of girls is a normal part of growing up.
The power of the “#MeToo” campaign is that it has lifted the veil of a world view that hid its evils under the guise of gentlemanly “manners and civility.” It is long past time for our society to face the fact that the misogyny that underlies our individual, institutional, and societal structures is only the surface of much deeper issues. We need to examine norms and structures that excuse and enable predators like Larry Nassar, as well as those that turn a blind eye to sexual harassment.
Real change will only happen if women continue to speak up and men listen. A male friend of mine was sitting with a group of women listening as they each described their experience of being sexually harassed. He was astonished, “They each had a story, Penny!” Yes, we each have a story. Certainly, my own kids did not know mine until I decided to write this letter.
What can you do to honor the memory not just of your grandfather, but your grandmother too? You can move past your own denial and listen to what women are telling you. Understand that many women like myself do not feel comfortable revealing this part of their history, and so you may not know when you start sharing your ideas about how feminists are “feral but victims too” that you could be trampling on open wounds.
Men can be part of the healing process for women and our society. It is difficult to understand how much fear women live with every day. Walking down the street or taking a bus; and, for some, going to work or even home is fraught with danger. We bear it with grace and hide it behind the expected smile. Yet, the safest I have ever felt was on a street with thousands of women and men pressing in on me — at the Women’s March on Washington — where men showed up as allies, amplifying the voices of women.
For most women our bodies are open for men to comment on, appraise, evaluate, and often touch without our consent. Civility is an answer to that, but not when it is a mask that hides truths about what women of all ages and from all walks of life are experiencing every day.
Ann Arbor, MI
Editor’s note: Penny Tullis is the youth development director for the YWCA of Northwest Ohio.
Indians’ logo taught respect
In regards to the Feb. 2 editorial, “Chief Wahoo is laid to rest,” I felt The Blade ignored the origins and evolutionary development of the character.
When Chief Wahoo appeared in The Blade during the 1930s, he displayed integrity, honesty, intelligence, common sense, wit, and a unique understanding of human nature. He was a role model to me and others growing up during the Great Depression and war years.
That character helped me develop a more positive attitude toward Native Americans.
FISA court protocal disputed
While I respect Congressman Will Hurd’s service to our country and often agree with his view on the current political climate, he still seems to believe that the information provided by the GPS Fusion investigation is the only evidence that was provided for a FISA warrant on an American citizen (Feb. 5., “Why I voted to release the Nunes memo”). This is the same view that President Trump takes and it is erroneous from a legal standpoint.
My understanding of the FISA court is that the agencies investigating a person need several pieces of corroborating evidence vetted by the FBI and the Department of Justice, and all their legal teams, before it’s presented to the court. The evidence and all information is kept secret to ensure sensitive materials are kept from the subject of the investigation.
I’m surprised Mr. Hurd, with his background, didn’t know what goes into obtaining a FISA warrant. Or maybe he was just following the party narrative.
Is MLB above the law?
In the Blade’s Feb. 2 editorial, “Chief Wahoo is laid to rest,” it is noted that the Cleveland Indians were possibly “encouraged” to remove Chief Wahoo as a stipulation of hosting the 2019 MLB All Star Game.
If this is true, it could be construed that Major League Baseball blackmailed the Indians. And blackmail is a felony. Is MLB above the law?
ED DEMAIN JR.
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