I’m still scrambling to catch up with everything after last week’s book release. Huge thanks to everyone who supported, signal-boosted, posted reviews, came to the events, and so on.
A lot has been happening, and I don’t know that I’ll be able to talk about everything I want to, but I’ll try…starting with the sexual harassment/assault accusation against George Takei.
We’ve seen a lot of these stories coming out recently. It feels like the Weinstein revelations helped to break the dam of silence, and we’re beginning to hear from victims who have been suppressed for decades.
In the case of Takei, model Scott Brunton accused Takei of groping his genitals while he was unconscious. There’s also a suggestion that Takei might have drugged him. This allegedly happened at Takei’s house in 1981.
Takei has denied the accusation, saying he has no memory of ever knowing Brunton.
Stern asked Takei if he had ever grabbed a man’s genitals against his will.
Takei paused, said “uh oh” and laughed. Stern repeated the question and Takei said: “Some people are kind of skittish, or maybe, um, uh, afraid, and you’re trying to persuade.”
Stern’s co-host, Robin Quivers, asked if Takei did “this grabbing at work”. Takei said: “Oh, no, no, no, it wasn’t at work. It was either in my home. They came to my home … it didn’t involve power over the other.”
Like many others, I’ve admired and respected George Takei for ages. I recognize that I very much don’t want to believe Takei did this.
I also know false accusations, while they do happen, are rare. And while Takei’s interview says nothing about drugging people, he does admit to grabbing men’s genitals against their will, which he justifies as “trying to persuade.”
As I said on a friend’s FB post, I’m still processing. But I’m seeing a lot of reactions that are troubling as hell.
1. “I’ve met George Takei and he’s always been a gentleman” and “I’m friends with Takei and don’t believe he could do this.”
Harassers don’t go around wearing signs that say “I drug and grope people against their will.” They don’t greet everyone they meet with a hearty handshake to the genitals. Abusers tend to be very good at maintaining a pleasant, friendly public persona. The fact that you’ve never seen someone behave inappropriately doesn’t mean it’s never happened.
And yes, Takei has been outspoken against harassment and abuse and such. Unfortunately, there are predators even among anti-rape, anti-harassment circles.
2. “Why would Brunton wait all these years before saying anything?”
This is the same criticism being thrown at accusers against Moore, Spacey, Weinstein, and so many others. There are too many real, valid reasons to list here, but some of them include:
- Fear of the consequences of speaking out
- Shock and confusion over what happened
- A desire to “get on with your life” and not relive the assault
- Believing you’re alone
- The power difference between you and your harasser
3. “This whole thing is turning into a witch hunt” and “It’s McCarthyism all over again!”
Why? Because there are so many accusations and revelations coming out?
We as a society have spent decades silencing victims of sexual harassment. What the hell did you expect it to look like when the dam finally began to crumble?
Victims of harassment — particularly women — have been saying for ages that this is a huge problem. Most of the stories we’re seeing involve multiple victims coming forward, and most of their accounts are corroborated by others. The Takei accusation feels like an outlier in some respects, since to the best of my knowledge, Brunton is the only one to have spoken out against him.
What pisses me off the most about this deflection is that when people try to defend Takei by calling it a witch hunt, they’re undermining everyone who’s been speaking out about their harassment. They’re suggesting all of these victims are lying, caught up in hysteria and publicity.
If you want to say you don’t believe a particular allegation, that’s one thing. If you say it’s all a witch hunt, then intentionally or not, you’re joining everyone else who’s silenced victims and helped to perpetuate this harassment and abuse for so many decades.
Like I said, I love George Takei and his work. I don’t want the accusation to be true. But Takei’s interview is troubling as hell. And so are some of the knee-jerk defenses I’m seeing from others who simply don’t want to believe.