It does not wear a male face: Thoughts on Andrea Cardosa and Jamie X

So there’s this video. It’s hard to watch. You probably should:

The accused, remarkably, admits it, and has resigned her position as Vice-Principal of Alhambra High School.

It kind of hit me hard, this. Brought up thoughts and memories I haven’t exactly buried, but mostly came to terms with and put away a long time ago.

I’ll spare you the details. It was all decades in the past, and of those I know to still be alive, they’re not likely going to be able to hurt anyone again. Besides, I usually make it a point not to make what I do here on AVfM about me and my own damage. Doing a bi-weekly show with Erin Pizzey on these issues makes it seem nearly impossible never to do it at all, mind you, but I try to keep it to a minimum, and only bring it up when I think it will help someone. So what the hell. Maybe Jamie X, or someone else like her, will read this, and maybe it will help.

There were five of them, between my infancy and my late adolescence. With three of them, what they did was relatively minor, mostly just disturbing and confusing in a young life that was already disturbing and confusing and unstable. The minor ones were the middle-aged housewife neighbor who felt me up, and the theology teacher who did pretty much the same but with more intimacy. With three others, however, it was more than minor. Of the three who weren’t minor, two were women, one was a man.

No, none of them really knew each other. It was different predators, different times and places. There just seems to be something about sexual predators: they can spot us. They’re drawn to us.

Who’s “us?” The vulnerable ones, the lost ones, the ones who are looking for guidance and understanding and security in a world that we can’t seem to find it in. I fancy they can tell by the way we walk, the way we talk, the way we interact–or fail to interact–with others. Whatever it is, the sexual predators, they can spot us a mile away I think.

Well, except for the ones who go after their own children. But that’s a different type of monster I suppose.

In any case, some may be born predators. Most, I think, probably not. Probably they’re reacting to their own childhood damage.

That doesn’t make what they did OK. It’s not. It just helps to know it, and to realize that while you can never wipe out evil deeds and evil actions, it’s easier to heal the trauma and reduce the incidence and help others through it if you recognize where it comes from.

Jamie X says something here about how her life was ruined. No Jamie it wasn’t ruined. You can heal from things like this. It can make you stronger and wiser.

There is a certain deal the devil offers us here in this modern culture, which says that if we internalize these experiences and make them the core of our identity, it will give us power. And it will. For a little while. I hope you don’t take it. I sense, just watching this, you probably won’t. Good.

Because that deal, it’s like taking methamphetamines: in the short term, it does good things for you.

With amphetamines, there’s no doubting it: you feel good, you’re sharp, you’re alert, you’re not at all tired, your memory is better, you can concentrate better, you can think more clearly about things, and the world seems like an awesome place. For a while. But pretty soon it robs every bit of that from you, and takes away even more. Eventually it consumes you, and you lose everything.

So too comes what I think of as the “victim mentality.” If the victim mentality consumes you, if you repeat over and over that this defines you, that this has crippled you forever, and use your victim status like a club to hit anyone who challenges you, as an excuse for every setback… well, it’s empowering for a time. But long term, you slowly just get sicker and sicker, and rather than gaining mature wisdom from it, you make yourself a permanent emotional cripple. And that’s not even your predator’s fault anymore, it’s yours.

Life’s a bitch that way, ain’t it?

I hope I’m right in my assessment, and Jamie X turns down the deal with the devil, and emerges stronger. Something tells me she will, but only time will tell.

There are also other thoughts this brings up, and these have nothing to do with Jamie X. So Jamie if you’re reading, you can stop here. The rest has nothing to do with you.

In this jumbled mix of thoughts that came to me listening to Jamie’s call, came sure knowledge that if I read this story in a place like The Good Men Project, or Salon, or Slate, or even some conservative organ, or even a mainstream media organ with no major political axe to grind, I’d read a line something like this:

“Sexual predators don’t always wear a male face.”

And you know, people would just nod sagely at that stupid line. “Of course, of course, not always, thanks for the important reminder.”

My response to that headline is, fuck you. Abuse does not wear a male face period. Nor does it wear a female face. Abuse is fucking abuse, and we have a cultural blind spot, an enormous one, when it comes to female predators. We tell ourselves they aren’t common even though they are quite common indeed. Just look at the difference between who gets prosecuted and convicted, versus what people report of their own experiences. On the self-reports, it turns out that females are anywhere from one-third to more than half of all sex predators. They just don’t go to jail for it anywhere near as often.

You know it’s one thing to be abused when you’re a child. Then it’s another abuse to be told that the abuse comes from males and maleness. For women, what this does is make it easier for the female predators to get away with it, and makes women more afraid of men.

But you know what it really does? It abuses little boys, and men of all ages, and makes them believe that this is their problem, that this problem wears their face. And it’s a whole other level of abuse, because it’s a hateful, bigoted lie.

If you tell a young man that he was sexually abused and raped by a woman… “but the problem is overwhelmingly a male-on-female problem,” and that he can use his experience to empathize with women, and you know what you are? An ignorant fool. And if you persist in that ignorance even after someone takes the time to try to educate you on the matter? Now you’re not just an ignorant fool, you’re an aggressively ignorant bigoted asshole.

Sexual abuse doesn’t have a male face. It doesn’t have a female face. It has a human face, and one day, with any luck, we’ll all recognize that.

Here’s hoping.

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