Search the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport. Go ahead. I'll wait.
The President tweeted things so horrid today, I don't even have words. At first glance, his tweets seem like normal political bluster, but they're not.
No woman (no person of any gender, in fact) should have to fear being shamed for reporting or not reporting sexual assault, but the reality is that such shame is the norm. Ask almost any woman (and many men): they will tell you exactly why they didn't report their own assaults.
By breezily assuming that assaults are usually reported (they aren't, and even more so weren't three decades ago), the President perfectly exemplified the kind of shaming our culture places on those who are sexually assaulted. This shaming, in turn, discourages reporting. He answers his own implied question.
This, Mr. President. This is why people don't report. You and everyone like you are why people don't report.
And, you know what? If I look over my own past, I can see ways in which I have said things which perpetuated a culture of shame. I have make remarks along the lines of assuming someone was wearing an outfit "to get attention." I was and am part of the problem, and I can do better. We can do better.
I pledge to do my part to make our country and our world a place where women are not shouldering a heavier burden than men when it comes to preventing sexual assault and harassment and abuse. I pledge to not say and do things which make women feel objectified or things which imply that women are in some way responsible for the wrong actions of men who mistreat or disrespect them. I pledge to treat everyone, especially women, with greater respect, and to not assume that I get to pass judgement on someone else's physical appearance, clothing, choice to report/not-report an assault or harassment, etc. Will you join me? Let's do better than the President.
He is a (huge) symptom, but he is not the cause.