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If I didn’t say something about the sexual assaults by put-on-a-pedestal folks, I think I’d explode.  The alleged behaviors of Penn State personalities and a U.S. presidential hopeful are despicable, but what’s even more despicable to me is the effort to excuse or deny the actions (or inactions, as the case may be) of these folks.  It’s ironic that one of the folks accused of not doing enough to protect children has a last name resembling the word “paternal.” 

After senseless rioting on the Penn State campus over the firing of the paternal one, students held a candlelight vigil on another night for the children that had been abused.  Thank goodness some consideration of the victims was demonstrated.  You can judge a nation by the way it treats (or mistreats) its children.

As to attitudes about women (and children) that report physical or verbal sexual assaults (= victims), not much has changed.  The media immediately pointed out that the woman that went public with details of Herman Cain’s inappropriate behavior toward her (details considered too explicit by some) was a woman without a job, suggesting that this woman needed and got money to tell her story.  Several female friends immediately spewed out doubts about the validity of what the woman said because of the monetary possibility and also made reference to the past (?) practice of white women accusing black men of rape when their affair was discovered.  Balderdash!

As long as this woman is telling the truth, what difference should it make if she has a job or not, or if she received money for going public?  She’s going to need money to deal with the backlash for going public.  She’s not the only woman claiming sexual harassment by Cain.  Anyone running for public office should know that whatever was swept and thought to be hidden under a rug will be brought to the surface.  The fact that Cain’s family is showing its support of Cain and voicing their doubts about Cain’s alleged misbehavior means what ??? 

There were women* that didn’t believe Anita Hill when she testified against Clarence Thomas, and women clucked disapproval of Hill being unladylike when she quoted Thomas (“How could she say those things?”).  Sound familiar?  Several women called Hill “a liar” until they saw a picture of Thomas with his white wife on the cover of a newspaper.  Suddenly, Hill was believed.  Despicable!  You can judge a nation by the way it treats its…women!

This article is politically non-partisan since inappropriate sexual behaviors occur regardless of party affiliation.  But I am miffed and dumbfounded by efforts to make the sexual misbehavior of Bill Clinton and John Edwards the same as the alleged inappropriate behavior of Cain.  I strongly disapproved of Clinton and Edwards (extramarital) sexual activity, but it was consensual.  The alleged sexual advances / assaults by Cain and Sandusky were not.  So people need to put aside that same-stuff bologna and recognize the difference.

Too many Americans are quick to talk about and rally against the mistreatment of women and children in other countries, but let’s take off our blinders and look at what goes on in America.  Children and women are assaulted every day and their mistreatment is too often minimized or ignored.  This is despicable!  Attitudes have to change.  We can judge our nation by the way we treat its children and its women…and, while I am at it-its elderly! 

*I focused on women because women need to examine their role in the mistreatment of women.

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...