To the editor:
Sexual assault is not about sex, it is about power. It is an irresponsible, immoral, abuse of power. And each of the men who have been recently accused of it, by multiple women, are very powerful men ? wealthy and powerful in their respective fields.
There are some false accusations. And none of us can say we were there when Charlie Rose, Al Franken and Harvey Weinstein allegedly committed these acts. But all of us, men in particular, have witnessed sexual harassment and predatory behavior if not actual assault. And as hard as it may be to admit, many of us have engaged in sexual harassment ourselves. However mild a form of it it may have been, we have engaged in it, too. Most men have done it at some point in their lives.
There are effective ways to bring out our better selves when our instincts are bringing out our worst. A memory of a sister, girlfriend, or wife can help a lot. A memory of our mothers can stop it in its tracks. The example of a gentleman we have known or currently know can help, too. Can we measure up when it really counts? The first requirement of any gentleman, and the measure of his status, is how he treats a woman.
Before I close, I would like to return briefly to the idea that sexual assault is really about power. Sex as a natural, healthy, human behavior is not about power. It is about sensitivity, intimacy. sharing, and love. We demean our humanity when we equate any kind of misconduct with human sexuality.
Any form of harassment, abuse or assault of women is indefensible. The men who have apologized, sought treatment, and listened respectfully to their accusers have begun to atone for their mistakes. The men who obstinately deny, rationalize, or justify their behavior have not.
In the film ?As Good As It Gets,? Jack Nicholson?s character is asked by his girlfriend to simply say something nice about her. His answer? ?You make me want to be a better man.?
We can all be better men if we try. Respecting women is a good place to start.