“AN ERA OF ACCOUNTABILITY”
PREFACE: This post contains information regarding the prevention of violence and abuse of a sexual nature. Some content may be triggering to survivors of such horrific acts. Viewer discretion is advised.
As I write this, we can all agree that 2020 has been turning out much differently than any of us could have ever predicted. Some would argue that our local literary genius Stephen King has been writing the current narrative, although I personally think we would be giving him too much credit in that regard. Despite these less than ideal circumstances, only one thing is ever for sure, and that is nothing is ever for sure. Many of us struggle to come to terms with this, especially those of us with disabilities, who often have a hard time reasonably anticipating what can happen and when at any given time.
Even so, I still believe that having standards and expecting better of my fellow man should never be a bad thing. The “#MeToo movement” has been a recurring hot button issue in our current political climate. For the most part, men don’t always do such a good job respecting women’s boundaries, and they aren’t very good at taking “no” for an answer when their advances are rejected or otherwise not reciprocated. “No” does not mean “convince me.” Serious accusations of rape and sexual assault have been made against numerous high-profile individuals in Hollywood and in politics. It should come as no surprise that the court of public opinion expects these individuals to be held accountable for their actions and brought to justice in a court of law. It’s not enough for consent to be “sexy.” Consent needs to be mandatory.
I hate to admit it, but there was a time in my life where I wasn’t exactly the best friend a girl could ever have, as I have touted myself in the past. I struggled to come to terms with the fact that not every woman I’ve been interested in would always feel the same way about me. I didn’t always handle rejection so well after I had gotten my hopes up too high. I didn’t have very many friends in high school. And honestly, that was all I ever really wanted back then. Although looking back, I can understand why some girls I went to school with thought I was after more than I could have and may have felt threatened by me after I began taking an interest in them.
It took a handful of interventions from my high school’s Affirmative Action Officer for me to realize that I went about making friends in a lot of the wrong ways. Even though I had no interest in girls at school romantically, I began to learn the hard way that my intent was irrelevant. It made no difference if I was just looking for a few good friends. If I was making girls at school uncomfortable, then they were uncomfortable, and there was nothing I could do to change that. Harassment was real, and there were consequences for repeat offenses. I would like to think, for the most part, that I have done much better interacting with women in recent times, and that I have learned from my past mistakes to keep them from happening in the future.
Ultimately, expecting better of my fellow man also means expecting better of myself and holding myself to a higher standard as my way of leading by example. I am all in favor of holding other people accountable for their actions. Actions have consequences. Perhaps the biggest goal I’ve had for the year 2020 was to do my part to help usher in an era of accountability. I can only hope when they break open the time capsule many years from now, people will see that for all I have done, right and wrong, that I was a fundamentally decent human being who tried hard to do good and did his best to stay on the right side of history.
If you or someone you know has experienced violence or abuse of a sexual nature, some resources have been included to assist you:
Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA)
45 Memorial Circle #302
Augusta, ME 04330
Text or Call: 1-800-871-7741
Maine Coalition To End Domestic Violence (MCDEV)
1 Weston Court Box 2
Augusta, ME 04330
Statewide Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1-866-834-HELP
Hearing Impaired: 1-800-437-1220
If you are self advocate and would like to share a blog post with us please email Laurie Coldwell at [email protected]
The Speaking Up For Us (SUFU) blog contains views and opinions of each individual writer. The views and opinions expressed through these channels are purely the bloggers’ own and does not reflect the opinion of SUFU as an organization or any SUFU staff member.