June 17, 2019

A Letter to All

Nolan Colleran '21, Contributor

This piece is for anyone who wishes to read it. It was written for the students of Gordon College who hold this belief, but are afraid to let their opinion be known. This is a response to Alec Hansen’s recent article, “An Open Letter to the Men of the Gordon Community.”

Dear Gordon Community,

“An open mind leaves a chance for someone to drop a worthwhile thought in it.” –Mark Twain

It is my belief that every single person on this campus agrees that there is never an excuse to sexually harass, emotionally abuse, assault, or rape anyone, ever. We as Christians know this, as moral human beings we know this, and, many of us, as victims of one or more of these heinous acts knows this.

The issue is not that men are evil, misogynistic, abusers of women. The issue that exists is men who abuse men, men who abuse women, women who abuse women, and women who abuse men. The issue is abusers of all sexes, races, identifications, and sexual preferences. When you speak of abuse and only speak of men abusing women, you are providing a scapegoat to all other abusers of people and allowing their victims to go unnoticed and suffer alone.

I may end up getting called “sexist” or “misogynistic” for writing this article, or something along those lines, whether that be publicly or in private conversation, because that seems to be the more popular approach today when someone gives out an opinion that is unpopular or you do not agree with. My approach to an opinion I do not agree with is to have a respectful conversation with the person who said it and find out why they believe what they believe. If it was an article, then I write my own article stating my opinion on the topic.

I am not a misogynist or a sexist. I believe in the great words of the late Martin Luther King Jr. from his “I Have a Dream” speech. “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” I see that quote as not only applying to race, but to all forms of judgment and assumption based on anything other than the content of a singular person’s character.

I often hear the phrase “men and women are equal.” I cannot agree with this. I cannot agree with that because, it puts ALL women in one group and ALL men in one group. The phrase gives off the idea that every man on the planet is mass produced from a specified blueprint and no differences exist between any of us. The phrase gives off the same idea about women, saying every woman on the planet is the same and not a single female is their own person. I cannot believe that the 51.9% of the world’s population that is male is completely the same and the 48.1% of the world’s population that is female is all the same. I have met women tougher, smarter, and stronger than most of the men I’ve ever met and I’ve met men tougher, smarter, and stronger than most of the women I’ve ever met. I cannot support any idea that ties together an entire sex or entire race of people as if everyone in that race or sex is the same. I do believe women should be paid the same as men for the same work and should be treated equally. No one should be mistreated based on their sex, race, or sexual orientation.

When it comes to people in power, a man named Lord Acton said it perfectly: “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” No matter the sex or race of the person in power, they may become very corrupt and immoral. We have the names of corrupt people in power we hear about often such as, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Clinton, and Bill Cosby. We all know of the terrible things they did.

The people who are often not talked about are, Asia Argento, actress and famed daughter of the Italian filmmaker Dario Argento, who was accused by an actor named Jimmy Bennett of sexually assaulting him when he was 17 years old. Allison Mack, known for her roles on “Smallville” and “Wilfred,” has been charged with sex trafficking by recruiting women as sex slaves for a group called Nxivm. And Adam Venit, a powerful Hollywood executive who sexually assaulted Terry Crews. We do not often hear of these people because they were not men in a position of power taking advantage of women. The victims of abusers such as these are the ones who suffer alone because, our society chooses to focus on and blame an entire sex rather than focus on the fact that abusers are from all races and sexes.

When it comes to the question “How can you believe that women are lying, when they have nothing to gain but embarrassment?” I completely agree that if the women, or any person in general that is claiming they were raped or assaulted has absolutely nothing to gain from the accusation then they are most likely telling the truth. But in our nation, we have something referred to as due process. People do make false accusations and humans have the power to lie. If we went around believing every accusation of any crime without an investigation being conducted and evidence being found to prove the accusation to be true, our justice system would convict, imprison, and, in cases of crimes of a sexual nature, file as sex offenders, a huge number of innocent people. In fact and fiction, there are cases where, to the naked eye, it appears the person had no motive to make a false accusation. But as an investigation went on, evidence came out that the person did have motive and it is proven to have been a false accusation, either through a confession or evidence that was found. An example of this in fiction would be from the book, that we all probably read in high school, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Mayella Ewell makes sexual advances towards a black man in town named Tom Robinson. When her father saw this he and Mayella accused Tom of raping Mayella. Because it was set in 1933 and Tom was a black man in Alabama, no evidence was needed and Tom was convicted and sentenced to death. While attempting to escape from jail, Tom is shot seventeen times by the guards, dying because of a false accusation.  

A real world example would be the case of VanDyke Perry and Gregory Counts. In 1991 when Perry was 21 and Counts was 19, a woman accused them both of forcing her into a vehicle at knifepoint and raping her with a third man, who was never found. 26 years later, in 2017, new DNA evidence was discovered and the woman who accused them came out and said, referring to the rape, that it “never happened.” These two men had their lives ruined due to a false accusation which got them convicted without any evidence, only the woman’s claim. Perry was released in 2011 after spending 20 years in prison and Counts was released in 2017 after spending 26 years in prison. The accuser faced no repercussions.

Want to know a hard truth that no one likes to accept? All of us, men and women, have hurt people throughout our lives. That is not specific to sexual harassment or assault, that’s all forms of hurt. Whether we got into a fist fight and hurt someone physically, got into an argument and spoke deeply hurtful words, or did something that we thought was small, we all have regrets that we have to live with. If possible, we also have to make amends for these things.

What we need to do is to recognize. Recognize that everyone is unique and we are unique because of our differences. We all have been through different experiences, some good, some bad, and some unspeakable. We all come from different places, different economic classes, different ways of life. We made it through those experiences and they have made us who we are. We need to treat each other with dignity and respect. Instead of calling someone names over their differing opinion, sit down and have some coffee and find out why you both think the way you do. An old, very wise man with a very thick Irish accent once told me something that we all should live by. He said, “Before you do anything questionable, stop and think, ‘Would my mother condone what I’m about to do?’. And if the answer is no, then you don’t do it.”

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