Many thoughts came to my mind while I watched Senator Cory Booker (D, NJ) speak with the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 28th. He spoke on, just to name a few;
- the Ford and Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations,
- America’s political division and
- the American people’s lack of trust in the American government.
During his speech, the statistics he reported on 1 in 3 females and 1 in 6 males (under the age of 18) suffer through the trauma of sexual abuse in this country. One term Senator Booker used during his statement was “Male Privilege”. He used the term in a form which implied (to me) wealth, class, culture and generational political power.
“Male privilege” is not just about the implications Senator Booker mentioned within his statement. It’s about how most American men lead their lives. The following is an example of how women live their daily lives, narrated through a woman’s eyes.
It’s close to the holidays, and I need to get the holiday shopping done for the family, friends, co-workers, etc. I decide to shop after work; as a teacher I get out at 3:30 pm. I figure I can get to the mall before the evening shoppers storm in, so I drive to the mall. On my way there, I look at my gas tank indicating I will need gas soon. I remind myself that it will be dark when I finish shopping, and it will be safer to stop for gas on my way to the mall.
I pull in to the gas station and look around before I get out of my car to get a “feel” for the environment. I hear of so much bad stuff happening in the news, so I decide to take my key fob, debit card and cell phone with me to the pump and leave my purse locked in the car. I select the gas type, slide my debit card and begin to pump the gas.
The guy directly across from my gas pump smiles and nods. He proceeds to look over my body, eyeing my yoga outfit that I slipped on for comfort after leaving work to shop. Again, I reconsider my outfit for the 100th time concerned with how some guy interprets what the outfit says about me and what ‘I really want’. I ignore him, pretend I don’t notice and finish the transaction. I take the receipt and gauge how quickly I can get back into my car after the beep of the key fob.
By the time I get to the mall, it’s dusk. My auto-imbedded reminder rings in my mind notifying me that it will be after 9:00 pm and dark outside when the stores close. Always curious, I’m not sure whose voice it is in the reminders – my mother’s from when I was a little girl, the TV news broadcaster reporting crime in the area or the police department at their ‘Safety Town’ programs. Regardless, the reminders and alarms automatically sound with every decision I make throughout the day from the minute I wake up. I decide to park my car in a well-lit area, preferably under a large light in the parking lot. I find a great parking spot, just 11 slots away from one of the bigger stores under the “Blue D” sign. The sign happens to be directly across from the third double door of the major department store where I will shop.
I shop throughout the evening, enjoying the choices I made to personalize the holiday gifts for the important people in my life. One outfit, in particular, for my 10-year-old niece, is adorable! Hip hugger, bell bottom, blue jeans with a sassy, pink, glitter belt and a peek-a-boo shoulder sweater. By the time I get to the cashier, I have a nagging thought that this adorable outfit is too “old” for my niece. It might be “too adorable” and draw unwanted attention to her. Of course, this triggers the reminder of the guy at the gas pump earlier in the evening. I leave the adorable outfit on the counter; unpurchased.
With the ‘heebie jeebies’ running down my spine, I glance around to check out my environment and calculate the time left to shop. I remember which entrance I entered to make sure I exit from the same before that store closes for the night. If not, I could end up having to leave through another door, which in turn, will cause me to possibly lose my sense of direction and definitely require me to walk a longer distance outside, possibly in darker areas and alone.
As I leave the store to go to my car, I make sure that my purse is on my shoulder, my key fob is in hand, and the packages are firmly in the other hand. As I walk to my car, my eyes continuously scan the environment for possible problems. Since I am parked under a bright light, I am able to see around my car. As every woman knows, I continue to scan around the environment, under the car, in the back seats and around the parking lot. I press the key fob to open the trunk and quickly place my packages inside. Even quicker, I open the driver’s side door, throw my purse in, slide in behind the wheel and lock the doors.
I happen to notice two young men weaving in and out of the cars joking around, being silly with each other. They don’t appear to be a problem, but I am glad I am in the car and soon to be on the road for home. I take a moment to call my significant other just to tell him I’m on my way home, and I’m getting a soda in the drive-thru. Finally, I arrive home, hit the garage door opener, drive-in and defensively watch the garage door fully close.
Would a man do this? No. This too, is called “male privilege”. As a male, they do not need to take these precautions. They don’t even think about it. They are not taught to fear for their (physical) sexual safety in the way women do.
As women, we were intently watching this Senate Judiciary Committee, with great interest, as they parade around with their male posturing and poo-slinging affirmations. Even here, in this supposed gathering of concerned and non-biased public servants, we witnessed more of this “male privilege”.
While we did, many that are survivors of sexual abuse and trauma again endured the emotional upheaval that American male privilege triggers. For these women survivors, as well as for many other empathetic people, this procedure was not just a process of choosing a new Supreme Court Judge. This hearing also represented the future political and cultural stance towards all women who suffer at the expense of any man who sees women as mere objects rather than equals who deserve the same respect and consideration as any man.
I write this not as a politician nor with a political agenda. I write this to inform the male population of the ways in which we women live our lives. As women, we must live in a state of constant hypervigilance and discernment to ward off those who wish us harm.
As a marriage and family therapist, university professor and medical advocate for sexual assault victims, I see many children, men and women who suffer from sexual trauma. Generation after generation, the sufferings of so many human beings are at the hands of others. The time has come to stop victim blaming. Why does it matter what someone is wearing, how much they’ve had to drink or whether they had permission to be out of the house or at a party, etc.
The real point is……….
NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO TOUCH YOUR BODY WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION!!!
About Kimanne Foraker-Koons, LMFT
With an extensive background in human behavior, mental and emotional health, education, career planning and crisis / sexual trauma, Kimanne Foraker-Koons, LMFT, has a strong commitment and a natural talent for working with people through difficult transitions, change, and other challenges. As a professional speaker and therapist, she provides clients the strategies to assess, plan and overcome difficult situations.
“Everyone has value and worth which can rise above any obstacle by using the gifts and talents within.”
Kimanne is Owner & Founder of Family Strategies Counseling & Mediation, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), certified mediator, university professor and medical advocate for sexual assault victims. Kimanne helps individuals, couples, and families through life’s challenges.
As a certified mediator, Kimanne works with those desiring a less harsh resolution to dissolving their marriage. Divorce mediation, post decree mediation and civil mediation services are offered to these individuals and couples.
Sharing her background in administration of justice, Kimanne bridges her family, marriage and mediation practice volunteering to help victims of sexual trauma, abuse and trafficking.
In these challenging times, keep focused on what matters most!