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Women don't come forward so often in cases of sexual harassment or abuse seen through several stories and venues, starting with Herman Cain...

The flavor this is month is Haagen Daz' Black Walnut, aka right wing token black person, aka Herman Cain.  He really isn't anymore lacking in the substance department than any of the right wing clowns. Poor Herman is a paid performer, not a real candidate, though I'm not sure if he has figured it out yet.

Rachel Maddow has a masterful take down of Herman Cain HERE.  She humorously explains how the candidate is a colossal joke. However, the allegations about what the man has done are starting to come out, and the details are ugly.  And it doesn't matter who her attorney is, or that it took her all these years to come forward.  There are reasons why these women kept silent, or were PAID to keep silent... either they didn't want to be humiliated, degraded and blamed for what happened to them or they were paid so as not to have the truth about the man come to light... not that the accusations have hurt his bubble riding to date.

A lot of people ask, "Why are they coming forward now?"  Please refer to the previous paragraph... they didn't wish to be humiliated, degraded, or blamed for what was done to them... but now, exactly what they had tried to circumvent in the late 1990s by keeping silent is happening anyway.  Their characters are being impugned and their stories discounted because they are women.  This is what they feared, this is what they didn't want and yet now they get it anyway, without even stepping into the spotlight.  They know who they are and they are having to relive the events all over again, even though they did exactly what society told them was best, "Be a good little girl, keep it all to yourself and it will all go away (and the man will be protected)."  The italics are really the most important part... they just remain the unspoken subtext written into our misogynistic culture.

The sad part is that it really doesn't matter to Herman Cain, he's in the right position with all the money, he may well remain untarnished like so many of his Republican compatriots. Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, Newt Gringrich (serial monogamist), Mark Sanford (the "hiking" governor of South Carolina), Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois (the "family man" who owes over $100K in back child support) are just a few sterling examples of good men treated unfairly by the media and reality.  We just don't understand them or some such, yet they remain powerful because they are men in high positions and with plenty of money.

And before you go off and tell me that I'm just a partisan, let me say that I'm glad John Edwards is getting prosecuted for his campaign finance crimes and I'm glad that Anthony Wiener got called out for his stupid indiscretions. My question on the latter has to be, why didn't Vitter lose his seat in the Senate?  

Meanwhile, back to the point... if you don't understand what it is to be afraid of what might happen to your reputation & credibility as a woman if you accuse a man of inappropriate behavior, you don't know what it is to be a woman in the USA.  Though we are, ostensibly, a free country with equal rights for women, the playing field is still not level.  If you are a woman, you are not taken as seriously as men in general and it doesn't matter how many impressive titles and bowls full of alphabet soup you have behind your name. So in many cases, it's easier to just keep quiet and your head down in hopes of someday being noticed for your hard work.  If  you make waves, you could easily putting your career on the line.

Women are also viewed as easy targets as well, apparently.  A study quoted by the author of the blog, Echidne of the Snakes, in her entry "The Stop Internet Misogyny Week. May Trigger." discusses how bots on IRC channels given male/female/neutral names show that the bots with female names received huge amounts of malicious  & threatening e-mails in comparison to those with male or neutral names. (There isn't a link to the study, unfortunately.)  Pair that with the discussion in the article of the abuse that female bloggers face, especially ones who were previously anonymous and then "came out" as female.  One was even told that she didn't write as well after she revealed herself as female.

Another recent event illustrates what can happen if a woman chooses to speak up.  In the Skeptical Blogosphere, the story of Elevatorgate a few months ago was really revealing the of the "blame the woman; attack the victim" phenomena... and it wasn't (and rarely is) isolated to men.  The original comments were made by Rebecca Watson on Skepchick and the video can be found here.  Her comments regarding unwanted advances in an elevator started a firestorm of attacks against her person, credibility, sexuality, and safety.... just because she asked guys to be respectful.

These are not isolated incidents.  It happens everyday on stages both large and small, public and private.  Men and women do it, sometimes unwittingly and sometimes not.  It's a reflex to tear a woman down based on her looks or whether or not she will have sex with you (mostly female guilty on the former and male on the latter).  I do it too, but I'm trying to become more respectful.

So I will say it here, I think that Sarah Palin is an attractive woman, but I find that her dearth of ideas exhibits a lack of knowledge, depth of thought, shortness of education, and narrow mindedness... I feel the same about Michelle Bachmann.  They may not be stupid women, I really cannot judge that, but I feel their lack of obvious probity appalling for those aspiring to the presidency of the United States.

With all those things I have said, I will end by saying that there are opportunists in every camp, and nobody is perfect.  But it is wrong for over half of the population to be intimidated and silenced about real abuses just because they fear for the future ramifications of their speaking out.

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