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On Wednesday, four women came forward to say they were touched inappropriately by Donald Trump. The allegations, on the heels of taped remarks in which trump boasts about pushing himself on women, have again brought sexual assault and harassment into the spotlight. It’s one of several high-profile cases this year, including accusations against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and a controversial sentencing in the Stanford rape case. All have prompted more dialogue about how we talk about, and treat, women in 2016. But to many, it can feel like we’re repeating the same conversation, even after reform to the law and college and workplace policies. Diane and a panel talk about why sexual assault and harassment are so common and what that says about our culture.
- Debra Katz Founding partner,Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP
- Soraya Chemaly Director, Women's Media Center Speech Project; writer and researcher on gender in culture, with a focus on sexualized violence and technology.
- Jackson Katz Co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, one of the original architects of the "bystander" approach" to gender violence prevention. He's the author of "The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help," and the recently-released "Man Enough? Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity."
- Nancy Leong Associate professor at the University of Denver School of Law, with background in identity, gender, race and discrimination.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Writer Kelly Oxford put out a call on Twitter for women to share the first time a man assaulted them, her own, at age 12 on a city bus. In the days that followed, thousands of women shared similar stories. They captured the reality of many women of all ages, sexual harassment and assault or the threat of it is everywhere, the playground, the subway and the workplace.
MS. DIANE REHMHere to talk about why the problem is so pervasive and how to address it, Debra Katz, an attorney in private practice, Soraya Chemaly, a writer and director of The Women's Media Center Speech Project. And from California, Jackson Katz, author and educator who created the Mentors In Violence Prevention Program. I'm sure many of you will want to join the conversation.
MS. DIANE REHMGive us a call at 800-433-8850. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And thank you all for joining us.
MS. DEBRA KATZThank you for having us.
MS. SORAYA CHEMALYThank you so much, Diane.
MR. JACKSON KATZThank you.
REHMLet's start with you, Debra. There were stories released last night by the New York Times and then more stories this morning by People magazine. What's going on here?
KATZWell, I think what's going on here is, in fact, Donald Trump, by saying these were just words, not actions, have inspired people who have actually been subjected to predatory attacks by Trump to come forward and say, no, this was not just talk. In fact, he assaulted me. And the People magazine first person account is absolutely chilling. The writer describes behavior that is exactly the behavior that Donald Trump bragged about on the bus that he engages in. He has the prerogative to grab women in any way he wants and doing it with impunity, because he is who he is.
REHMHave all these stories been checked and rechecked and people who knew these women when these assaults happened have all of them come forward as well?
KATZWell, the People magazine writer says that the day after the assault occurred she went back to People magazine and told others that this is what happened. And yet, People magazine still chose to run this puff piece about Donald Trump's great marriage and great life a year later. The New York Times story seems well reported. They, in fact, contacted multiple witnesses as described in this story who confirmed that the women reported to others at the time that these assaults took place that these took place, which just goes to show Donald Trump's point that I can do this. I can shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue. I can grab women by their genitals and I am bulletproof.
REHMAnd this, Soraya, comes on the heels of other high profile stories, including Roger Ailes at Fox News, including the Stanford rape case. What do we know about the rate of sexual assault over time? I'm beginning to wonder how much of this has become, well, this happens, kind of part of our culture.
CHEMALYSo I don't think any of this is new. I think it has been happening, but there have been so many social and legal prohibitions on talking about these things openly. What's most interesting to me about what's happening right now with Trump, in particular with the People story, is that he blows up the division between public and private. He's not just emblematic of rape culture. He's kind of the embodiment of rape culture because when he talks about women in these ways, he does it in a very self-aware way.
CHEMALYIf you think about this tape, he actually is connecting his power and status and entitlement to the right to assault in these ways. And so in the case of the People magazine article, what's striking to me is that the institution itself did nothing and this is what women have been up against. When a person like Trump says the things that he said and does the things that he does, he has social sanction for that. And in the case of People magazine, instead of saying to this writer, that was egregious, we need to address that, she was kind of expected to deal with it on her own and they went ahead and published the story. And that happens over and over and over again.
REHMJackson Katz, does this kind of simple acceptance of stories without taking action, does that happen over and over again, more generally, not just in regard to Donald Trump and today's political atmosphere?
KATZOh, yes, absolutely, Diane. And thanks for having me on your show.
KATZThere's no question that the kinds of behaviors that he is alleged to have, you know, perpetrated, if you will, some of that is really common stuff. And I think -- I mean, I work -- and I and my colleagues have been working with men and women, but in the college level and high schools and in the military for quite a long time and the kinds of day to day, you know, boundary violations, whether it's in bars or clubs where guys will be grabbing women's, you know, butts as they're walking by and the experience that women have of that as a normative behavior, rather than a -- they don't often see it as sexual assault. It's often a revelatory moment in an educational session when you say that if you touch somebody in a sexual way that's unwelcome and unwanted, that literally could be a sexual assault that you've just experienced or committed.
KATZAnd a lot of people laugh and giggle, sometimes nervously, when they hear that because it's so -- it's been so normalized in certain parts of, you know, for lack of a better word, young culture. And so one of the challenges for those of us who do sexual assault and gender violence prevention is to talk about not just these extreme case of, you know, the rapist wearing the ski mask jumping out from behind the bushes, which is the prototypical, stereotypical scenario, but the actual day to day boundary violations, which create the cultural context and foundation within which even more serious violence doesn’t get taken as seriously.
REHMYou know, it's so interesting, Jackson, that you said young culture. It is only now that we are beginning to talk about this more openly and yet, older women are finally coming forward to say, well, yeah, this happened to me as well, Soraya. How much of all this has not been reported in the past and how much is now being reported?
CHEMALYSo I think this is very old culture. I think this is a very conservative culture and part of the problem we have -- and I can't stress this enough -- is that we are not focusing enough on the institutional and social structures that have silenced these stories in the past. And so now that we have a transformative medium like the Internet, it's possible for not thousands, but millions of women, which is just what's happened with the not okay hashtag, I think we're at 29 or 30 million women have responded to her now, to say this happened to me and it's important.
CHEMALYAnd what we're seeing is, I think, a really profound challenge to the Republican party in terms of its paternalistic approach to women in general because when Trump exposed that -- when that conversation was exposed, it drew attention to the fact that a man who can say I love women, I adore women, I cherish women, I think women are beautiful, I'm here to protect women, is simultaneously in private predatory and exploitative. And so now, when conservative legislators say the same words, it becomes a natural -- a more natural thought process to think, but wait a minute, these laws are predatory and exploitative.
CHEMALYThey are no more in support of women's autonomy, of their rights, of their ability to control their own lives.
REHMAt the same time, Debra Katz, we cannot simply focus on Republicans or conservatives. And I think you would agree with that, Jackson, it is men and to a certain extent women of all stripes who are carrying out this kind of behavior. You know, I am just blown away by this website that -- this tweet campaign that has not garnered millions of visitors. It's as though, up to now, we have not had the language to express our feelings about what's happened to us.
KATZI think that's true, but his comments have not only tapped on -- it's tapped on our outrage that anyone would ever find that this behavior is acceptable. And I want to make one point, which is he thinks he can diminish how terrible and unlawful, ultimately, these comments are by saying, it's locker room talk. One, he was not in a locker room. Two, he was in a work setting. And three, this suggest that Donald Trump believes the world is his locker room and everybody's in on this men know, we get to talk like this, women get to be objects of our abuse and it's fine.
KATZAnd that was one thing that I found enraging about the debate and I think most women did, is that he could relegate this by saying it's locker room talk. It's illegal.
REHMDebra Katz, founding partner of Katz, Marshall and Banks. Soraya Chemaly is director of The Women's Media Center Speech Project. Jackson Katz is cofounder of the Mentors In Violence Prevention Program. Short break here, your calls, comments when we come back. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back. I have, of course, invited your calls, your comments. I'm going to take a call now from Allison in Toledo, Ohio. Go right ahead, Allison.
ALLISONThank you so much, Diane. Pardon me, I'm a little bit nervous.
REHMI understand. Don't be...
ALLISONI was actually groped by a political candidate a year ago, while he was running for reelection for mayor. He came up to me at a bar and grabbed me and told me that if I stood on my tiptoes in my dress, he and his friends would pass out. And when I spoke out about it on Facebook, I was met with severe backlash from my community and my city. The newspaper ran my Facebook page and photo on the front page of the paper and implied that I was lying for political gain. A number of people in the community threatened me or created online pages to threaten me. And nothing really happened to him. He just said that I was lying or that it didn't happen.
ALLISONAnd he never had to address how he treated me or how women were treated, despite the fact that a number of other women came out and said that they had been treated...
ALLISON...in a disgusting or sexually harassing manner by him. It was all just kind of brushed off. And other women -- there was another girl who was actually groped by him this same evening...
ALLISON...that the newspaper spoke to, who didn't want to speak publicly because of the threats that I received.
REHMRight. And Debra Katz, that happens again and again.
KATZAllison, your point is so well taken. And this is exactly why women do not come forward. Because they fear this kind of retaliatory backlash, whether it's in the workplace or in your setting, where you did something brave. And in fact, the backlash is so extreme because there's an amplification that can be done online, where anonymous people can really savage people who come forward. And it takes a very brave person to come forward. And most people don't, whether it be in the workplace or on campuses, because the cost, the personal cost can be just so high, the retaliation is so severe, and the presumption is women are lying. And that's what Donald Trump and others, the mayoral candidate in your case as well, are perpetuating -- women lie.
REHMAnd indeed, Soraya, you were talking about what happened during the debate.
CHEMALYDuring the debate, Facebook released an analysis of what people were talking about by gender. And this issue of the Trump tapes and all the conversations surrounding it was number one of the top five for women. And it didn't make the list for men. It wasn't among any of their prioritized issues. And I think that's extremely important, because we in fact continue to live in a world where what men think has much more weight in the law, in corporate environments, in legislative bodies. And so the inability to understand why women see this as a political and economic issue, as something that actually hurts them on a daily basis, is quite jarring.
REHMJackson, tell us what your Mentors in Violence Prevention program is trying to achieve.
KATZSure, well we've been around for a while. We're -- I started MVP in 1993 in the sports culture. It was the first large-scale attempt to use the power and sort of status of, in this case, male -- initially, male college student athletes to speak out about sexual assault, sexual harassment, relationship abuse, domestic violence, gay bashing and a whole range of other interpersonal abuses.
KATZAnd the thinking in the early stages of MVP was, if we get men with status within their peer culture -- and not just within the insular, athletic subculture, but in a larger campus culture and with younger men and boys -- if we get those men with status to start speaking up and challenging sexism and challenging men's mistreatment of women and girls, as well as other men and boys, it'll open up space in the larger male peer culture to talk about this.
KATZBecause I think there's lots of guys who are very uncomfortable with the behavior of some, you know, of their fellow men and young men and boys, but they don't say anything. They don't challenge and interrupt. They don't speak up. Because they're afraid of losing status, they're afraid of losing, you know, their sense of being one of the guys. And I, you know, I don't believe that there's, you know, millions and millions of men -- I mean, I know that Trump is getting support from a lot of men. And I think misogyny is part of the package, if you will, that he is selling, and that there are men who are buying. I do appreciate that.
KATZBut I do believe that a lot of men are not comfortable with the behavior of their peers, but they don't speak up and they don't challenge. So the MVP program was the first program to introduce the -- what -- the bystander approach to this field. It's now been morphed in some people's thinking and teaching into what's called bystander intervention, which is much more -- I have to say, a much more individualistic event spaced approach, like when you see a situation, you jump in, which to me I think is little bit more like glorified nightclub bouncer training.
KATZBut what we do in MVP is we talk about -- honestly talk about what's going on. What are the dynamics in these peer cultures? What are the gender norms? What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a man who sees your friend acting in abusive ways towards girls and women and not say something? And what does not saying something imply about who you are? And what are some options that you have? What are some ways that you can challenge and interrupt? And that metaphor, by the way, is not just for, you know, young men, like 16-year-old high school football players or 20-year-old student athletes. This is men in the workplace. This is adult men in positions of community and political leadership.
KATZWhat we don't see enough of, and we're seeing a little bit more, I have to say, with this Donald -- this most-recent Donald Trump situation, it's came out as the -- in the Ray Rice situation in the NFL, increasingly, adult men are willing to start speaking up and saying that the behavior of some of our peers is unacceptable. And that's a shift that's happening. And I think it's one of the only hopeful, you know, sort of -- in addition to the fact that women are coming forward, I think that you have men coming forward who are saying this is not acceptable. This has crossed the line.
REHMAnd Soraya, it would seem to me that that kind of education is going to have to start much earlier. Jackson was talking about young men, 16, 17. But little kids on the playground are getting these ideas that they can make fun of, they can go after, they can harass young children. How do we change that kind of thinking?
CHEMALYSo a lot of things happen -- have to happen all at once, right? We need to be talking to children about empathy and compassion and dignity and consent in age-appropriate ways. Some people think that when you're doing anti-sexual-violence work and you say we need early childhood education, that someone's going to waltz into a classroom and talk to second graders about rape, which is ridiculous, right? But we can talk to children about boundaries. We can talk to children about what it means to respect someone else...
CHEMALY...and not denigrate them on the basis of how they look. And that's very important. But along with that, we really do need media literacy. We need digital citizenship. And we need to be able, frankly, to talk about gender and race and the difficult social justice issues that we know we're encountering. Because the thing we haven't really talked about in this episode is the role of Trump's whiteness. And that's very important in this. Because the day before he -- this video was released, he doubled down on the Central Park Five. And I think that he is an example of the ways in which rape narratives in the country are used to reinforce race systems and aphobic narratives.
CHEMALYBecause the go to place in this situation, when you want a other -- men of other colors, is to say they're going to rape our women, which is basically code for white women, right? And that's also a serious part of rape culture.
REHMDebra, I want to step back a little bit to Anita Hill and the 1990s. Do you think that that was actually a turning point for women and their desire, if not always accepted, but their desire to speak out about what was happening?
KATZWell, yes and no. Those of us who were watching those hearings were incensed. We had no doubt that she was telling the truth. And yet, there was such a well-orchestrated campaign to impugn her integrity and her veracity. And I think in many ways, many women decided at that point to come forward and to speak out. But others saw the retaliation that she experienced and chose to remain silent. And Anita Hill did it with such integrity. And many women then understood sexual harassment. Because the law has been established -- well established since 1986 that sexual harassment is un -- illegal sex discrimination.
KATZAnd yet, if you look at the numbers that -- from studies of sexual harassment that actually occurs at work versus the number of people who actually come forward, it's a minority of people who come forward. And again, the point is, that your caller made, people suffer horrendous retaliation. They lose their jobs, they lose their careers if they speak out often.
REHMAll right. And to Joe in Pittsburgh, Pa. Joe, thanks for calling.
JOEHi. Thanks. I'm a 47-year-old white, male, registered sex offender. Now, I was raised -- well, the experiences with the men that I was around whenever I was growing up, they were constantly objectifying women. I believe this was a, no doubt, a direct result of my own actions. Nine years of therapy, I had to go and learn the awful truth about how I thought about women. And I honestly believe that that's the only way you can do it. I don't think -- I think it's very, very hard for men or anyone else, or women, it doesn't matter, to go into therapy, you have to admit to a lot of things that aren't nice. And it doesn't paint a good picture for you. And it's very difficult. But it is possible an it -- change is possible, to learn not to objectify, just like you learn to objectify.
REHMAll right. Thanks for your call. Jackson, do you want to comment?
KATZYeah. I mean, I appreciate that. That's -- I appreciate that Joe took the step of making that call and making that statement. And I also agree very much that the normalization of men's objectification of women is what we're talking about. And I think what has to happen, as Soraya said this in her own way, we have to be having educational content that deals openly with this kind of behavior and not just think that the solution to, you know, say, sexual assault is to train people to jump in when they see an assault happening. We have to have honest conversations in male and female peer culture, in schools at all age-appropriate levels, which I also agree with of course.
KATZBut certainly we have a crying need in the high schools and colleges to have open and honest dialogs. But one of the challenges of doing that work is that a lot of the adult men in those settings themselves are very uncomfortable talking about this. They're very uncomfortable challenging each other, thinking about, introspectively, like Joe is thinking introspectively about his responsibility. And so it's not just that we, you know, adult men have this, you know, we have it all figured out and we're just going to impart this knowledge to the young men and women.
KATZIt's -- I think a lot of adult men themselves, ourselves, are conflicted, have ambivalent feelings about some of this, have guilt or a sense of, I've done some of these things so how can I be in a position to help others? So this Trump situation, as, you know, as Bill Cosby and all these other situations that preceded it are at least -- I think it's a huge, teachable moment here. And that all these women coming forward across class, race, ethnicity and every other social category is a wake-up call, I think, to the country at large. But some of us who have been doing this work have known about this for a long time.
KATZNow, we have the ears -- the eyes and the ears of the whole culture looking at this problem. And hopefully that'll potentially -- and I say potentially with hopeful, you know, with cautious optimism -- will propel a different layer and level of cultural, sort of, intervention and conversation.
REHMJackson Katz, he's co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention program. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And joining us now by phone from Denver, Nancy Leong. She's an associate professor at the University of Denver School of Law. She specializes in identity, gender and discrimination. Thanks for joining us, Nancy.
MS. NANCY LEONGThanks so much for having me.
REHMYou've said that sexual harassment is a tax on opportunity. Explain what you mean.
LEONGWell, so the idea is that all of us present ourselves to the world in certain ways. You know, I use the term identity work to describe something that we all do. We all put on a face when we go to work. But the identity work that women and other outsiders do -- racial minorities, LGBTQ people -- is often more frequent and more burdensome, because there are more obstacles to navigate. And sexual harassment and sexual assault are a few of those obstacles.
LEONGAnd so when I talk about, you know, sexual harassment and sexual assault being a tax on women's opportunity, what I'm talking about is all of the effort that goes into working around those types of experiences and the energy that goes into that, that could otherwise be devoted to something else.
REHMSo you're describing kind of a tradeoff that women make in very, very tiny decisions each day. Talk about those decisions and the kinds of risks that women have to take in the workplace.
LEONGSo there are so many of these decisions that women make every day. And I think one of the really troubling things about this is that we view these as small decisions, but cumulatively the impact is considerable. So, you know, just to give a few examples, do you laugh at your co-worker's unwelcome sexual joke? Or do you call it out and risk increasing tensions in your workplace? Or do you wear the dress that you like? Or do you wear the suit that you know won't attract unwelcome attention in the workplace? And, you know, as a lawyer and as a law professor, I see this as particularly relevant in litigation.
LEONGSo we have situations where women will sometimes play along at the beginning in a situation where something that looks like sexual harassment is beginning to happen in the workplace. Women will sometimes play along at the beginning by laughing at sexualized jokes or maybe putting up with unwanted touching. And it's understandable, because they may want to avoid conflict in the short term. The problem is that if the conduct escalates and the woman ends up filing a lawsuit later on, the fact that she played along at the beginning is often held against her. And so women are very much in a double bind when it comes to many of these situations.
REHMSo, very briefly, what would you recommend a woman do, if she has on, say, a dress she likes and a male colleague compliments her on it, but then perhaps begins to touch her or stroke her? What would you say that that woman should do?
LEONGWell, my inclination -- and I think that this taps into the conversation that we've all been having -- is that awareness about sexual assault and sexual harassment is growing. And I think it is becoming more comfortable and more acceptable for women to speak out about things that make them uncomfortable in the workplace. So, you know, there will certainly always be a tradeoff. But, you know, I think that we're getting to the point where if something is unacceptable, then it should be called out as unacceptable.
REHMNancy Leong, she's an associate professor at the University of Denver School of Law. We'll be talking about actions that women and men can take if they feel they're in those situation.
REHMAnd welcome back. We're talking about sexual violence, not only in the workplace. Sexual harassment on the playground in schools and colleges. And just before the break, we were talking with Nancy Leong of the University of Denver School of Law about power and the issue of power. She was talking about co-workers, Debra. You feel very strongly that so often is an issue of power.
KATZOf course. Sexual harassment is classically an abuse of power. It's very often not about sex at all. It's about the ability to lord over somebody, control their behavior and do it with impunity. Which is exactly what Trump said. And this is what happens every day. I counsel women about sexual harassment, I specialize in this.
REHMAnd what to do.
KATZWhat to do. And this is typically supervisors who are abusing their power and putting women in a situation where they have to choose between a paycheck and being treated with dignity in the workplace.
REHMAn awful lot of our callers are asking us to talk about the influence of pornography. Its availability, its widespread usage, not only for grown men, but for young people as well. Soraya, what's happening?
CHEMALYSo, I think that there is this pervasive accessibility of pornography in a way that is qualitatively different than what may have happened 25 or 30 years ago. Pornography was the engine of the internet's growth. And we don't provide children at any stage with information about how to think about these issues, how to process these images. And they have access to them. And so when we talk about sexual objectification, and I'm so grateful to Joe for bringing that up, because that is the crux of what's happening in pornography.
CHEMALYWe see it in pornography, but we're also saturated in it anyway. Girls at the age of six in the United States already see themselves as sexual objects. That happens way before anybody is looking at pornography and is relevant. But, you know, what I find most, most telling about pornography is that when a powerful woman speaks up publicly, there is an automatic pornophication (sp?) of her without her consent. And that is...
CHEMALYSo if you look at -- if, unfortunately, I did this, but if you Google any number of women in our country. Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton.
CHEMALYCondoleezza Rice, Anita Hill. You will find that pornography has been created with their names and their images. If you Google Ted Cruz or Bernie Sanders, you will find articles about their thoughts on pornography. And that's a completely different thing. There is this response that is to sexually objectify and demean women in order to silence them and denigrate them. And portray them as morally incapable.
REHMJackson, how do you see the use of pornography, not only by grown men but by young children and its influence of the objectification of women and the rise, if we can call it that, of sexual harassment?
KATZWell, I don't -- I think it's impossible to overstate how central pornography has become to providing sexual scripts for young people, especially young men and older men. I mean, women to a certain extent as well have their own relationship to the porn culture, but in terms of the socialization of boys and men, it's absolutely a critical piece of it. And I -- I talk about this all the time, and I give lectures all over the country and all over the world. And on college campuses frequently.
KATZAnd I -- it's amazing how few people want to talk honestly about pornography, because people are still uncomfortable with the subject. There's still this sort of notion that if you're critiquing it, that you must be a puritanical prude and therefore you're not cool and hip. And people want to be cool and hip. And even in the sexual assault movement, there's a reticence still among a lot of people to talk about this, because it's so uncomfortable. But I do think that it's a critically important conversation that we should be having.
KATZIn, at all levels age appropriate, because kids, boys, are, you know, I think the average age of exposure to pornography is something like 11. And what's happening is they're being -- the normalization effect of media exposure, it's not about imitation necessarily. It's about normalization and desensitization. And so, what has been enshrined as normative behavior in the heterosexual context in the mainstream of pornography targeting men and young men is in the real world is rape and sexual abuse and sexual violence.
KATZAnd yet, boys and men with no educational intervention, no honest way -- I mean, no way to have an honest conversation with people, apart from those people who have parents who are comfortable talking about this with their kids. In the absence of that conversation, they consider this to be, you know, a representation of normative reality. And that's extremely disturbing, and I think a lot of people turn away because they're so -- you know, the implication of thinking that millions and millions of otherwise normal boys and men are, you know, getting off, to be honest with you, to images of men and representations of men treating women really disrespectfully.
KATZAnd really sexually aggressively is too -- is so uncomfortable and so distressing that some people just turn away. But we can't turn away.
REHMAll right. And to Anne here in Washington, D.C. You're on the air.
ANNEHi. Thanks for having me on the air.
ANNEI really responded to, you know, a number of things that your guests are saying. As a child growing up in the 70s and 80s, I guess my perspective is, I'm sure porn has escalated it. But I think it, that this attitude towards women is very institutionalized and begins very, very early. And I think even women's institutions, educational institutions, support it by not discussing it and telling you, you know, I certainly was told that, oh, we've got the women's movement. It's been done.
ANNEGo out there. There are no impediments was sort of the message to our generation. But every step of the way, starting in elementary school, what I found is that it was very supported by the institutional culture. Oh, men will do this, boys will do this. I experienced it myself and have watched over 50 percent that I know about of colleagues and friends experience this kind of behavior. I think on the college campuses and I think it's really taboo to discuss this. But the Virginia College campuses classify rape as a misdemeanor, and I think that's a very powerful message to men.
ANNEI watched men being kicked out for cheating on a pop quiz, but they could, you know, there are some famous footballers now who I went to school with who, who were allowed to get away with rape that happened in the public setting. Many of them, and, you know, I went on to work in big accounting and consulting firms in D.C. and New York and it's endemic there as well.
KATZExcellent points. You've made many, many important points. Let's talk about university campuses and the symbiotic relationship between fraternities and universities. We -- one of the greatest risk factors on campus for women and sexual assault is both sports teams and fraternities. And universities sanction that, they give fraternities free reign to engage in all sorts of really terrible behavior that creates tremendous risk of sexual assault for women students.
KATZAnd yet, schools tout the value of Greek life, but they don't put disclaimers on their website saying but if you go these fraternity parties, in fact, you have a far greater chance of being rufied (sp?) and being sexually assaulted.
REHMAnd so, young women are told not to drink excessively in order to protect themselves from that kind of behavior, Soraya.
CHEMALYYeah, I mean I think that the cultural norms have reversed the trajectory of what should happen. And, you know, we haven't really talked about this, but the levels of rape tolerance that we see in our culture are extremely high and there are human societies where rape is not part of life. And avoiding rape, or harassment is not part of women's lives. And I think people have a hard time with that, because they're so grounded in this idea that we are binary sexes and that we are very different and that men and boys are essentially animals who can't control themselves.
CHEMALYAnd then women have to, and girls, have to be the thermadors for their behavior, which again, is extremely sexist, and ultimately predatory. And so, I think the important thing to remember is we have, you know, 20 percent of women in this country will be sexually assaulted. And if they're Native American or if they're African American, it's much higher. You know, over 50 percent of states in this country still allow rapists to sue for custody of their children. Only three percent of rapists are ever jailed. I mean, these are just symptoms of the tolerance we have for this behavior.
REHMAll right. To Orlando, Florida. Cy, you're on the air.
CYHi, good morning Diane.
CYThank you for taking my call.
CYI love your show.
CYI have a 13-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter, so this topic is very important to me and my household. But I -- my comment was -- I told your screener that last school year, my son was dared to touch a fellow female student's behind, and he did. It was reported immediately, and he found himself in hot water. Several days of in school suspension and my wife and I, obviously, had a very stern conversation with him and he was grounded for a couple of weeks. But I did initially find myself not sure exactly what to do or say for the first day or so.
CYAnd, you know, I asked fellow parents, you know, what they thought and I guess the bottom line I'm trying to get to is this, I believe, starts with effective, proactive parenting and having conversations early about everything that's been discussed on your show this morning.
REHMSo Cy, what did you actually end up saying to your son?
CYWell, my wife and I sat down with him and said, explained to him that women must be treated with respect and valued just like anyone else, just like any of his friends. And they are not to be treated objectively. I believe he got the message loud and clear.
REHMAnd what did he say about his classmates' dare?
CYWell, he basically said that they dared him to do what he did and he knew it was wrong, but they were all laughing and chuckling and thinking, well, maybe it will just be fun and silly. And he learned the hard way that it wasn't taken that way by the...
REHMHe sure did learn the hard way at an early age. Is that kind of lesson, Jackson, going to endure?
KATZWell, I certainly hope so. And again, it just shows you how much peer culture, norms and pressure on young men and older men plays a role in perpetuating these, you know, this -- the normalization of these abuses. And again, we're here in this Donald Trump created moment. And I think it's important to remember that we do have this Presidential campaign where one of the two candidates is a man who has a long history, even before these videos surfaced and these women were coming forward, he has a long history of being, you know, making misogynist statements.
KATZAnd treating women as sexual objects. And yet, has the support of millions and millions of white men. And, you know, some people are pulling back a little bit, but he still has millions and millions of passionate white male supporters who think that this is all a distraction. Who think that this is all, you know, he's being sandbagged by the, you know, the Democratic Party, by the Clinton campaign, by the media. That he's the savior of the country who can't do his work because of these small and trivial matters.
KATZSo there's lots of people who don't agree with this discourse. They just think that this is overblown and I think that shows you we do have a long way to go.
REHMAnd you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. But you know, it's clearly -- we talk a lot about Donald Trump because it is part of the Presidential campaign. But if you think to what's been going on in these last few years, the allegations against Bill Cosby, the allegations, clearly, against members of high places in society. What is going to change this, in your view, Soraya?
CHEMALYSo, first of all, I think we need to acknowledge, which is hard for many people, that women don't have equality. And as a function of status, we are subjected to this behavior. And very often when I talk about this, I start with the stories of the rapes of boys in the Catholic Church, in the Boy Scouts, at Penn State. We see rape in the military, and in those cases, it's very clear that this is an abuse of power, but because of the nature of our intimate relationships, because of the closeness between men and women in our society.
CHEMALYAnd it's a society that believes that it's democratic. We don't have that conversation about status. It just makes us more vulnerable and it means that we're less credible. So when you see all of these people talking about assaults by men in these cases, with high status, it's a reflection of those imbalances of power.
REHMHow can we take the first step to changing the attitudes of men and women about what's happening? Debra.
KATZWell, this, this discussion is very useful, but examples of people like Gretchen Carlson coming forward and calling it for exactly what it was with Roger Ailes. And initially, Ailes brought women forward to say this didn't happen. You had Bill O'Reilly coming forward. This is not the man I know. And the reality is, if she had not taped these conversations, Roger Ailes would probably still be in the C suite. The women need to understand that when this goes on, they need to document it.
KATZThey need to preserve evidence, because automatically, they will be disbelieved. And to see Roger Ailes go from where he went to now being a top advisor to Donald Trump, leaving with a 40 million dollar golden parachute. It's sickening.
REHMFrom your point of view, Jackson, briefly, first steps.
KATZWe have to defeat Donald Trump in November. I think it's the greatest bystander moment in, perhaps, in history. We have a chance, at the ballot box, to say this is unacceptable. He's crossed all these different lines, whether it's racism or sexism or sexual objectification or predatory behavior. And those of us who support him who vote for him, are in a sense, being complicit bystanders and enablers of that kind of behavior, because, because, we are -- who the President is matters. And what it teaches young people and older people what are values are.
KATZAnd the President embodies the country in a certain way. And we have a chance to make a really strong statement that this is completely unacceptable in moving forward. And in particular, Diane, what we need is we need more adult men who are willing to take some stances and stand with women as our partners and our allies and really take some risks and provide some leadership.
REHMAbsolutely. Great discussion from all of you. Thank you so much.
KATZThank you so much.
CHEMALYThank you, Diane.
REHMJackson Katz of Mentors in Violence Prevention program, Soraya Chemaly, Director of the Women's Media Center Speech Project, Debra Katz, founding partner of Katz, Marshall and Banks. This discussion will continue. Thanks for listening all. I'm Diane Rehm.
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