Why do women rush to the defense of abusive men?
I don’t mean these men’s wives or best friends or mothers. I understand entirely how love can override reason, even when it shouldn’t. Sometimes I joke to my husband that, for all my principals, if he came home and said “I murdered someone,” within half an hour I’d have figured out how we could get false passports to flee the country together. Obviously, I hope that never happens. However, I realize that deep love can sometimes cause us to abdicate our principles. So, when mothers are “willing to do everything” to defend their sons against sexual assault allegations or when people’s wives stand by them no matter what, I’m sad. Mostly for them, because they’ve been put in a horrendous position by someone they love deeply. But I’m never surprised.
It is—at least at first glance—much more surprising when women who seem to have less of a deep emotional investment in the accused man decide to back him. It’s odd, for instance, to see Lindsay Lohan rush to Harvey Weinstein’s defense against numerous—numerous—assault allegations. More accurately, in since-deleted postings on Instagram earlier this month, she claimed:
“I feel very bad for HW right now. I don’t think it’s right what’s going on. I think Georgina needs to take a stand and be there for her husband. He’s never wronged me or done anything to me and we’ve done several movies together. I think everyone needs to stop. It’s wrong, so stand up.”
Lindsay Lohan is hardly the only woman who has come to the defense of men who have been accused of assault.
Bill O’Reilly was proven innocent, and the woman who falsely accused him, is going to prison. BOY, GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT. YOU KNOW NOTHING
— Missie (@bymykyu) October 13, 2017
Still Johnny Depp has been included in your clickbait bullshit. He was accused NEVER proven therefore innocent,this is tiresome,old & boring
— Lyn (@JohnnyD_AidanT) October 12, 2017
Innocent till proven guilty, no matter what anyone says they have their own opinion, but I personally know bill & he’s a great guy. ?
— Ciera Mento (@bossyprincesss) October 21, 2017
Sometimes I watch these women and wonder, “what are they getting out of this?”
In many cases I doubt they even know these men, or at least, don’t know them well enough to devote their energy to defending what seems likely to be really bad behavior.
The best, and saddest, explanation I can find comes from Emily Gould. She tweeted:
“Many, many men fear and hate women. Many women, because they are conditioned not to side w the losing team, also hate women.”
Many, many men fear and hate women. Many women, because they are conditioned not to side w the losing team, also hate women
— Emily Gould (@EmilyGould) October 17, 2017
To be a woman defending women against men is to be, very often, on the losing team. Looking briefly at the men who have been accused of misconduct with women—Harvey Weinstein, Johnny Depp, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, Casey Affleck, R. Kelly—you’ll note that, despite a hefty amount of evidence against them, not much really happens to them. They don’t go to jail. When they go to trial, they’re found innocent. Their careers suffer minor setbacks, perhaps, but most still find a way to make movies or write books, even if they can’t do it at the level they once did. Speaking out against a powerful man as a woman is an exceedingly vulnerable exercise that can often feel fruitless as we watch Bill Cosby, who 27 different womenaccused of crimes including rape, assault and harassment, go free after a mistrial.
In a polar opposite of Trump’s promise that we’d win so much we’d get tired of winning: to try to defend women is to lose so often you get tired of losing.
It’s not surprising that some women think it might be advantageous to go to bat for people who don’t seem to show women a great deal of respect. And maybe it will be! Hey, I don’t know. Maybe men will decide that you’re one of the good ones, valiantly piping up on behalf of men accused of assault everywhere. Maybe this is a strategy that will work out really well on an individual level.
But an individual level isn’t enough. It shouldn’t take more than 27 women for women to be believed when they say bad things happen to them. In a time when the overwhelming majority of people accused of sexual crimes go free and false accusations are shown to be exceedingly rare, we need to think about how to create a better system. This will take some time. There will probably be more losing before any great gains occur on this front. But when women jump forth to defend men who already seem to have the belief of much of society on their side, they make it a little bit harder for other women to come forward.
And that’s too bad. Because the woman who needs to come forward could be any one of us.
From: Harper’s BAZAAR US