Salisbury’s Take: Listen up men, this one’s for you!

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 Let me start this column by stating unequivocally that I believe Christine Blasey Ford. Many of you reading this might be saying, “What in the world are you talking about?” So, for those of you who might have been living under a rock for the past several weeks, let me explain.

Ford is a psychologist and professor of statistics at Palo Alto University in Northern California. Apparently, she was an acquaintance of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, now a Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  Judge Kavanaugh has been nominated to fill the seat on the U.S. Supreme Court recently vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy in July.

Ford has come forward in recent weeks claiming that when she and Kavanaugh were in high school (he was 17 and she was 15), they ended up in a bedroom together during a small party during which he attempted to initiate sex with her and when she resisted, he covered her mouth to prevent people from hearing her call for help. It was at that very moment, that Kavanaugh became a criminal and disqualified himself from serving as a judge, in my opinion.

Many are asking questions like, why didn’t Ford come forth sooner? Why should we be concerned about something that happened between two kids in high school? Why is this an issue here when guys do things like this all the time when their teenagers? That’s what I’d like to address here.

The reason why this situation is so important is because it sends a message to our society as to what is acceptable behavior for men when it comes to how they treat women. Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem in our culture as evidenced by the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Every day we hear new stories about men treating women disrespectfully and making unwanted sexual advances toward them. My question for men is, “What the heck is wrong with you guys?” If you come on to a woman, and she does not reciprocate your interest, that should be the end of the story. The ball is now in her court. She is aware of your interest and if she decides to change her mind, she will let you know. Period. Exclamation point!

What makes me so angry about men is that so many of them believe that they somehow have a right to pursue women as long and as aggressively as they see fit. This speaks to the devaluing of women in our culture. Brett Kavanaugh, even as a 17 year old young man, believed he had a right to Ford’s body and was willing to prevent her from removing herself from the situation by covering her mouth. While Ford is not accusing Kavanaugh of actually raping her, clearly the fact that he was trying to force himself on her is by definition attempted rape and for sure, sexual assault.

What I think our society needs is more men who are willing to stand up and say, she is right. Any man regardless of how old he was it the time who could do this to a young woman has disqualified himself from being appointed to the highest court in the land. Also, the victim has a right to come forward any time she wants to.  The reason so many women are hesitant to come forward when they are assaulted is because they feel embarrassed and ashamed assuming that people will think that it is somehow their fault. Again, this speaks to how little we value the right that women have to maintain ownership over their own bodies.

We currently have a President who has admittedly assaulted women. We’ve had President’s in the past and many legislators at every level from both parties who have been accused of harassing women. Is there something innately wrong with men? I don’t believe so. I believe the vast majority of men value and respect women. What I think has happened is that we’ve adopted a culture in which men are revered for their sexual prowess and women are devalued and objectified. This is not going to stop until men stand up and say enough is enough! Women are our equals in every way. They deserve to be paid as much as any man for doing the same job. They should not be treated like objects. They should have total control over the choices they make for their health and well-being. They should not have to stand idly by and watch an attempted rapist become a Supreme Court judge. #TimesUp, gentlemen! What are you going to do about it?

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