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Posted October 18, 2016:
Take Back Your Shame, I Donít Want It
Say this for Donald Trump: he has put
matters on our common agenda that need to be faced, that need to
be talked about.
Matters like sexual harassment and
One reliable and awful element of
sexual abuse and harassment is that those who are victims of it
experience shame. It is illogical. It is not right. Yet victims
of sexual abuse feel deeply ashamed. As if they have done
something wrong. As if somehow it is their fault. As if they
have brought this upon themselves.
That shame results in silence. No one
is told. No help is sought. No report made. The devil wins.
But one of the goods things about the
current outcry is that victims are saying to perpetrators, ďTake
this shame, itís yours. It doesnít belong to me. I donít want
it. I donít need it. It belongs to you.Ē
In the perversions of a sexist and
violent culture, the perpetrators of sexual abuse and harassment
have counted themselves victors, smart, cool, cunning and
entitled. Listen to Trump. Thatís what you hear. Pawing women
was my due. Demeaning women is my right.
When what they, and he, should really
be experiencing is shame. Shame for their behavior. Shame for
the ways they have taken advantage of their power. Shame for
their attacks on the vulnerable. Shame for the most failure of
Now women, almost all of whom have
experienced some level of harassment, if not outright abuse, are
rising up to say, ďItís your shame. Take it, I wonít have it.Ē
This seems to me a very powerful
inversion. The victims are taking power back. They are refusing
a victim mentality. They are putting the shame where it belongs,
and it doesnít belong to them.