A Modern Day Witch Hunt?

Western society is currently experiencing a flood of Entertainment Industry sexual abuse/assault claims. A flood. One after the other coming out to share their story, either in support of others or to point the finger at their own perpetrators.

I think that any victim finding their voice and minimising the shame that victims experience is brilliant. As a person who has experienced sexual abuse, I find it refreshing that the media is shining the spotlight on the issue. However, I am not sure that shining the light is all that is required, but more on that later.

I was at a Trivia Night on Saturday. One of my best friends said that she didn’t believe that a couple of men who have been vilified are actually guilty of what they have been accused of. I couldn’t believe it. I think, in my disbelief, I may have made her feel less than. I hope not, but I shall discuss that with her later. Ultimately, I don’t know. Maybe they are guilty. Maybe they aren’t.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with one of my other best friends about the proliferation of claims when she asked me why I thought it was happening. We discussed reasons why and where we thought this might all be leading (hopefully, towards enlightenment and transformation on a grand scale).

This morning I read and shared Facebook posts written by Ellen Page and another by Caitlin Johnstone about this issue. And then, I paused.

George Takei is the most recent to be accused and he is emphatically denying the allegations. I don’t know whether he is innocent or guilty. I like George. I love and follow his Facebook page. And so now, I understand why my friend has reservations.

And, then I started a dialogue with myself. How do we know who is guilty or not guilty? After deliberation, I discovered the answer: the volume of claims made against an individual. Yep. That’s how we know.

And, then I had a flashback to one of my all time favourite plays by Arthur Miller: The Crucible. Abigail managed to manipulate many fraudulent claims and then the witch hunt (literally) started. From there, I made the natural leap to the McCarthyist era in the US and in Australia during the fifties and sixties.

And, realistically, the volume of complaints used as a barometer of innocence or guilt could only make many ‘normal’ people, without a massive media platform, feel disenfranchised because they have no means to assess the volume of victims who suffered at their abuser’s hands. Myself included.

So, how do we know?

We don’t.

It is important to validate the experience of victims. It is also important to exercise caution in our judgements as the momentum continues to spiral. Some people facing allegations levelled against them will be innocent of those allegations. And, their lives will be impacted as much as the fabric of our society will be (hopefully in a good way).

As for the light that is flooding on the issue now, that is not all that is required. This is a first step. The next step must be education and support and resources and real change in the attitudes of people who use sexual behaviour as a means to power and control over others. No human being is the toy of another, or the property of another. And sexual behaviour, should never ever be used to control or marginalise another.

I am sorry, NS.

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