Home » “WHY NOW?”
It is unfortunate that as a culture, America blames its victims. In other words, victims are not to supposed to do, say, or wear anything [i.e., black men fighting back when attacked; or women in short or tight-fitting clothing fighting harder when assaulted] to antagonize or provoke adverse responses in probable predators. More pointedly, however, because it is essentially an act of power and control, victims [mostly women and girls] of sexual violence are further brutalized by practices, so ingrained in the culture, that punishes victims for daring to come forward. Consequently, when and if a long-term “silence bearer” of sexual violence decides to come forth with the fact of her victimization, the first response to her is almost, always, “Why Now?”
This question is not new. Even more, it resonates against the backdrop of the #MeToo Movement, #Time’s Up and now #Believe the Victim social media campaigns. The effects of these movements not only reveal the many forms of sexual assault and abuse of women and girls but also of how widespread the countless uses of suppression are that cause them to be disbelieved when they try to tell what happened to them. What’s worse, while so many find it easy to believe in nameless, faceless victims that are statistically counted, just as many, tend to not always believe actual women. So, is it that America doesn’t believe women or that America does believe them but just doesn’t care and hence, “Why Now”?
Then again, “belief” just might not be the problem. After all, isn’t the United States the nation that just two years ago elected a serial sexual predator to the presidency. This speaks to the customs, laws, religions, and power structure of America and those of privilege assuming the right to exploit those with less power deemed undeserving to be heard or believed. Furthermore, it is a reminder that patriarchy intends to be sustained at all costs even if women’s and girl’s bodies continue to be collateral damage. Except, once the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh broke, every damaging response to victims of sexual violence has gone on display, challenging the country to revisit and reframe, the question, “Why Now?”
Revisiting “Why Now”, particularly for those who claim Jesus as their own, fundamentally obliges Believers to remember his saving actions throughout the Gospels. All in all, Jesus’ way is that of compassion for the exploited; not support for the exploiters. He protected the marginalized who were attacked by angry mobs and always stood by women that were rejected and exploited by men. In every instance, Jesus sided with women against men, and even called women to be the first to tell the story of the Resurrection. Jesus inarguably supported the equality of women. Accordingly, then, when the example of Jesus is followed, people learn to listen to victims, and not angry mobs or powerful politicians. And that’s the new reason to ask, “Why Now”?
Finally, it is critical that the reframing of “Why Now” be supported by male allies. For too long, far too many men have been passive co-conspirators in the time-honored custom of defending accused males and demeaning accusers. Thus, the relevance of “Why Now” after reframing becomes one of transformation from a culture of victim shaming and blaming to one that vigilantly and loudly declares “no longer will boys get lucky and girls get raped“. Reframing advocates the adoption of a framework like that of the #MeToo Movement which centers on survivors. The burden of proof shifts to the accused from accuser. Most importantly, “Why Now” becomes emblematic of equality, compassion, and empathy.
Yours in the struggle…. Reverend Gale Jones, Executive Pastor