Listening to an NPR story about the PBS Frontline documentary A Rape in the Fields, got me to thinking. So much of the discussion about rape focuses on the victims. With many social problems, we often focus on dealing with the aftermath of the crime, the “band-aid” fixes. What would change if we focus our discussion on the perpetrators?
Sadly, at least one in four women in the U.S. are victims of sexual attacks. We all know that people in positions of power sometimes take the opportunity to abuse that power. So how can we focus on these situations?
Who are these men, determined to abuse vulnerable women? Are these men living in isolation? Are they able to hide this trait from their friends, their peers, their boss, their wives and family? In this documentary, agricultural workers report knowing about the frequency of attacks, they even go on to call the farms “fields of panties.” Can it be that all the workers know about this barbaric behavior, but other supervisors and people of authority have no idea that this abuse happens?
Who is letting these people get away with abusing women, or children? First, we have to stop being dubbed by false impressions. Jerry Sandusky, and some holy priests, hide behind a veil of charity and “good” intentions; and the Tim Curleys of the world are encouraging such behavior by intentionally hiding the truth of these relationships. Might this complicity fuel the manic fetish, increasing the prevalence and intensity of abuse? Given the facade of honest character that lets some people perform such heinous acts, shouldn’t we focus on these types of opportunities where perpetrators have unquestioned authority over others?
Maybe we are at the cusp of change, where the Tim Curleys and Gary Schultzes are also held responsible, and have as much to lose as the perpetrators.