While I tepidly commend Kevin Spacey for his tepid apology to Anthony Rapp, then a 14-year old boy allegedly sexually assaulted by a then 26-year-old Spacey, his conflation of sexual predacity with homosexuality is dangerous and reinforces dated and dangerous stereotypes.
Trying to hide under the rainbow by blaming one’s sexual orientation for the sexual assault of a child is unacceptable.
It equates homosexuality with pedophilia: a dangerous stereotype that has no basis in truth or science. There is already too much misinformation linking being gay or lesbian with child molestation and pedophilia. Statistics show 94% of perpetrators are straight males and approximately 3.75 % are straight females; fewer than 1-2% are gay males, and fewer than .1% are lesbian. The number of transgender individuals committing child sexual abuse is unknown at this time but is expected to be extremely low.
Furthermore, Spacey’s weak apology on Twitter last week claimed that he “didn’t remember the event” while also calling it “inappropriate drunken behavior.” Spacey went on to say, “This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life. I have had relationships with both men and women. I choose now to live as a gay man.”
That’s rich, Mr. Spacey. You’re accused of sexually violating a child, and all you can talk about on Twitter is yourself: your feelings, your overindulgence in alcohol, and your emerging sexual orientation, spinning confusion by using this crime to come out to the public. It’s as if you somehow believe you should be forgiven because you are having a coming out celebration that we should join in. Your attempt to throw some red meat to the media so that your underlying acts aren’t seen for what they are is deplorable. What occurred was a violation of trust, a stealing of innocence and of the right to the pursuit of happiness— you stole those things from your victim, Anthony Rapp, with your alleged sexual violation.
We believe Mr. Spacey is hiding under the rainbow. A House of Cards is sure to come crashing down on him. Blaming being “gay,” “confusion about being gay,” “having relationships with both men and women,” and “drunken behavior” is a weak defense at best. We need to focus on holding perpetrators accountable while supporting victims’ rights both to break silence and to have a wide range of legal remedies.
Child molestation, as with other sex crimes such as sexual harassment, rape, and sexual assault, are crimes of power, not of sex. The myth is that sexual assault results from an uncontrollable impulsive sexual urge. The fact is, sexual assault is motivated by hostility, power, and control. Sexual assaults are not motivated by sexual desire. Humans are capable of controlling how they choose to act and how they express their sexual urges.
Child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape, and sexual misconduct is 100% preventable. This is not a rampant disease thundering out of control. As good and decent people, we must have the will to stop sexual misconduct, both the high crimes and the misdemeanors. We have to be willing to impose real consequences on those that sexually assault. We can’t just commend the “brave, courageous victim” and then not do anything about their victimization. Without the commitment to holding perpetrators accountable, Rapp’s account is just another salacious news story that quickly will be replaced with other scandalous headlines.
Repeat After Me: Sexual Assault is Not About Sex, Sexual Assault is About Power.
All perpetrators are opportunists. I am a victim of incest, rape, and sexual harassment, an attorney who has represented victims for over 20 years, and a key person who helped change the law in California extending the statute of limitations for survivors of sexual abuse, thereby giving victims more rights to hold their perpetrators accountable.
I say this:
“Perpetrators of sexual assaults, child molestation, and sexual harassment do it because they can and it feels good! Period. They are not, for the most part, ‘sick’ individuals. They are opportunistic predators. The predatory behavior is based on hostility, power, and control. Let’s call it the “Alpha Male, King of the Jungle crime” where the feeling of euphoria from taking power away from a less powerful person who can’t fight back feeds the cycle of further sexual misconduct, dangerously reinforced with sexual gratification. It is a game of ‘power lust,’ not ‘sexual lust.’ The quest for dominance and control is at the root of sexual assaults, sexual harassment, rape, and child sexual abuse. The danger, violation, and euphoric feelings of power and control that arise from sexually assaulting the least powerful becomes a powerful and addictive craving that can only be satisfied by further sexual violations of other women and children (boys too).”
Again, repeat after me. Sexual assault is not about sex but about power. Wherever there is an imbalance of power, you will find the perfect Petrie dish for sexual assault.
Least Reported Crime: Sexual assault is the violent crime that is least often reported to law enforcement officials. A 2000 study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that only 28% of victims report their sexual assault to the police.
Boys Under the Age of Twelve are Victims Too
One in four victims of sexual assault under the age of twelve is a boy.
Victims Know the Perpetrator
In eight out of ten cases (78%), the victims know the perpetrator.
So much for stranger danger.
Sexual Assault of Women
One in four women and one in five men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
Campus Sexual Assault
One in four college women will be sexually assaulted before graduation.
Developmentally Disabled Adults
Up to 83% of developmentally disabled adult females and 32% of adult disabled males are victims of sexual violence.
Where Sexual Assault Occurs
Nearly six out of ten sexual assaults occur in the victims’ home or in the home of a friend, relative, or neighbor.
Mr. Spacey, we ask you: make this right. Be one of the good guys. Take responsibility. Learn from your mistakes, apologize, and accept responsibility for the egregious damages you caused your young victim. Ask your victim what can you do to repair the harm you have caused, and then follow through and do it! Man up. Donate time, energy, money, and commitment to helping survivors. Make this your cause. Work to repair the damage you caused to everyone who loves and believes in you, who pays good money to see your movies, and who follows you on House of Cards like some political god? We are profoundly disappointed. I’m one of your fans. I’m so disappointed in you, especially in your narcissism, your lack of compassion for the consequences of your acts, and your inability to see this from your victim’s point of view. Walk a day in our shoes.
We need to come together, speak up, stand up, and rise up.
“Being sexually abused at such an early age was the scar on my soul. But I feel like it ultimately made me into the person I am today. I understand the journey of life. I had to go through what I went through to be here. But now it’s time to take action to save the next generation of women and children from what we went the
Shari Karney is a survivor’s attorney. She represents victims of child sexual abuse by sexual predators such as a member of the clergy, a teacher, celebrity, sports coach, wealthy businessman or any other powerful person, Karney Law is here for you.