Letters to the Editor

Sarasota vandal misses the point about sexual assault and the #MeToo movement

I was very saddened to see the destruction of property on the iconic statue in Sarasota. As a woman, I feel the need to speak up and say, “Let’s not detract from the importance of the #MeToo and TimesUp movements with displays like this.” There is a real difference between what happened in that picture as portrayed by the statue and what needs to be the focus of awareness and change today.

I had a conversation today with a neighbor whose friend was in the same nursing school as the young woman in the picture. They had heard that the soldiers were going to be getting off their ship at the end of WWII and they rushed out of class to go greet them and celebrate with them. She said that her friend described a scene of celebration and joy where everyone was hugging and dancing in the streets. She was standing right next to the soldier and her friend and said that it was not an “assault,” it was joyful, and her friend was happy to be a part of the festivities.

I agree that the culture in our society is such that men have been permitted to get away with some very abusive actions and I am not condoning that.

But this does not mean that every man who tries to kiss or grope a woman he finds attractive (but who does not return the feeling) is a sexual predator. Let’s not dilute the reprehensible cases of rape and sexual assault with incidents of piggishness.

As women we certainly need to stand up for those who have been abused and preyed upon. We also need to be careful of painting the nature of sexual assault with too broad a brush and jeopardizing the need for societal change.

Jenni Casale