author – activist – faculty – mom
2015 was a powerful year of consequences for sexual violence. In particular, Bill Cosby, Daniel Holtzclaw and my UC Berkeley colleague Geoff Marcy got CONSEQUENTED.
According to Answers.com “consequented” is not a word, but I have decided to change that.
1. to receive a consequence in a situation that one knew was morally wrong, but one expected to get away with it due to historical precedent. Usually having to do with histories of oppression where the victim belongs to a group whose rights have not traditionally been enforced under the law and/or where the perpetrator belongs to a group who has not historically been expected to obey the law: Leona Helmsley got consequented for tax evasion.
2. the act of reconnecting a behavior and the consequence in the public understanding: if you rape, sexually abuse or sexually harass women, you might go to jail and/or lose your job. Even if you are more powerful or deemed more credible than your victims.
3. a line of reasoning very difficult for the perpetrator and his defenders/apologists/yes-men to understand: how could this possibly be true? But he was everyone’s favorite dad. But he was on Star Trek Night. But how can I be found guilty on my birthday? But I was led to believe by the society that I could target this group of women because no one cared about them. But I’ve gotten away with this for so long that I have come to think of myself as innocent.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with these cases, Bill Cosby faces criminal charges for drugging and raping dozens of women over several decades. Astronomer Geoff Marcy lost his job at UC Berkeley due to over a decade of sexual harassment, and Daniel Holtzclaw faces up to 263 years in prison for sexually abusing African American women as an Oklahoma City cop.
While we didn’t see the kinds of justice we wanted for Tamir Rice or Sandra Bland or any of the African American men and women killed by police, we did see a new level of response from the legal system for these three cases of serial perpetrators of sexual violence.
All three of these abusers assumed that their powerful position would protect them: Cosby in entertainment; Marcy in science; Holtzclaw in law enforcement. Their positions did protect them for years or even decades, but eventually they got consequented. May 2016 continue to be a year of getting consequented for those who act like women’s bodies are for the taking and/or who don’t believe that #BlackLivesMatter.