When Women Are Accused of Complicity

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I wanted to share this article I recently read in The Atlantic. The article is about women who were accused of complicity in the sexual abuse of other women and children by guys like Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, and Jeffrey Epstein.  

This is a reality that I wanted to pass along because if it can happen outside the church, it can happen inside too. 

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Whenever we consider complicity or culpability in a situation - we must ask, "who has the power?" Who has the power in any given situation? Who is being oppressed or used by that power, and to what ends? Who benefits? Labeling another victim a "madame" puts blame in the wrong place, and can take responsibility away from the one who owns the harm done - in this case the men who continued to abuse women.

That said, we don't know the relationship between these men who abused and the women who aided their efforts - we don't know what the women's motives were, financial dependence, threats, coercion, a romantic relationship, their own feelings of powerlessness or inadequacy, their inability to stand up to the one with power. It takes a very strong woman to fight the current and stand up for other women who are being harmed; there are often significant costs involved.

One of my favorite lines from the movie Spotlight came in the words of reporter Mitchell: “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.” In that story, beyond being amazed at the sheer numbers of people abused, it was amazing how many were involved in the cover up! So many people are complicit by their silence and turning the other way. In many ways, we, as a society, and as a church, are also complicit in the abuse that we allow to continue among us.

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I am not implying that it's a simple issue. Ghislaine Maxwell, for example, was hoping for a marriage proposal from Epstein and never got it. Roger Ailes's assistant got a mere pittance in his will for her efforts, and the character in the novel The Handmaid's Tale ended up being arrested and tried for crimes against humanity for her participation and support of the regime that oppressed other women. I guess she was hoping to get children in this way because she couldn't get them otherwise. The power ultimately rests in the hands of the men who use these women to get their own ends, and their guilt is all the greater because as Jesus said in Matthew 18:6 ff. "6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." In other versions stumble is replaced by the verb to sin. Anyway, I would not want to be in the shoes of these men on Judgment Day.