Sunday, September 07, 2014

The power of ideology to ignore inconvenient truths - different kinds of sexual abusers.

Ross Douthat said something very thoughtful in the NYT (I know I know but he did):

The point is that as a society changes, as what’s held sacred and who’s empowered shifts, so do the paths through which evil enters in, the prejudices and blind spots it exploits. So don’t expect tomorrow’s predators to look like yesterday’s. Don’t expect them to look like the figures your ideology or philosophy or faith would lead you to associate with exploitation. Expect them, instead, to look like the people whom you yourself would be most likely to respect, most afraid to challenge publicly, or least eager to vilify and hate. Because your assumptions and pieties are evil’s best opportunity, and your conventional wisdom is what’s most likely to condemn victims to their fate.

Now turn from that to this latest sex abuse report from Canada's national post:

Her experience is borne out in a 2004 study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence by McGill professor Myriam S. Denov, “The Long-Term Effects of Child Sexual Abuse by Female Perpetrators,” in which Denov notes that “professionals working in the area of child welfare perceive sexual abuse by women as relatively harmless as compared to sexual abuse by men.” Denov found that this professional minimization and disbelief of patients’ allegations can exacerbate the original abuse’s negative effects, “ultimately inciting secondary victimization.”

The instinctive discomfort people feel regarding female pedophilia can be located in two sources. One is the universal image of the female as the “nurturing” sex. But even harder to combat is an ideology, currently dominant in our culture, in which men are associated with violence and women with victimhood. Any suggestion that women are as capable of predatory sexual behavior as men is viewed as social heresy. The ramifications of this sex-specific dogma can be seen in the double standards for men and women – notably in cases of domestic violence, but also in cases of child abuse – routinely applied by law enforcement and social services in assessing the veracity of victims.

This false belief is hurting the victims of female sexual abusers. It is difficult enough to admit to oneself that your own mother is betraying and hurting you. Collecting the courage to report it in our cultural climate is an almost insurmountable task for most victims. No wonder close to zero percent of both women and men do in fact report it.

Ideology blinds all of us. And in chock full of progress America, it's in the blind spots where evil flourishes.

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