Remember Jacob Wetterling; end male sexual assault discrimination

jacob-wetterling

Jacob Wetterling has been found.

And today, 27 years after he was abducted in October 1989, his family now knows that he was molested and murdered that same night. Their wait for their beloved boy to come home is over.

What isn’t over is discrimination – in criminal and civil cases, in police believing and following up on reports, in whether reports are made in the first place.

I remember the news accounts, the fear and the panic when he was taken. I’ve never forgotten his sweet, smiling face, and all of the good that came for other children after he was abducted.

News of his abduction was printed and broadcast across the country. People knew all kinds of details then – what he was wearing, how he was taken, that police had a person of interest soon after. But Jacob wasn’t found.

Now we hear from news accounts that some police didn’t take incidents of molestation of boys in the area seriously or didn’t follow up on them as they would have had the victims been girls. There are reports that say that some boys weren’t believed, that some were just disregarded. What a terrible double standard.

Unfortunately, that same double standard still exists today, nearly 30 years later. Many people don’t believe men can be raped. Many even think that a stranger groping a man is different, albeit even acceptable, than a stranger groping a woman. Many reports made by men, when men can summon the tremendous courage to report at all, are not believed or not investigated.

While many double standards exist for men and women, this one likely caused more boys to be violated and traumatized, and maybe even somehow failed to prevent the death of Jacob Wetterling.

I long for a world where we all – men and women, black and white, rich and poor, weak and strong – are treated equally.

On another note, there are those who may not understand how the man who murdered Jacob Wetterling will not face charges in his killing. I don’t know his family, but I knew many family members of girls and women taken and murdered by the Green River Killer.

When the time came for him to face the death penalty or to be let out of that and instead face life in prison without the possibility of parole, his attorneys bargained. Some families got remains of their loved ones who had been missing for decades. Some families finally got answers to their questions regarding what had happened to their mothers, daughters, sisters, girlfriends. And those answers were desperately wanted and needed.

I imagine the family of Jacob Wetterling wanted the same. They wanted to know what happened. Was he alive somewhere, somehow, or was he dead? They now know, and they have his remains so they can give him a proper burial.

There is no way to get over something like this for those left behind. But there are things people can do to move forward. And to help the Wetterling family? Jacob’s mother Patty Wetterling posted this statement yesterday on the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center Facebook page:

“The Wetterlings are deeply grieving and are pulling our family together. We will be eager to talk to media as soon as we are able.

Everyone wants to know what they can do to help us.
Say a prayer.
Light a candle.
Be with friends.
Play with your children.
Giggle.
Hold Hands.
Eat ice cream.
Create joy.
Help your neighbor.
That is what will bring me comfort today.”

I would add find a way to help end this double standard that treats male victims of sexual assault differently than women.

Writer’s note: I didn’t name either killer in this post because I want them to receive as little attention as possible today. 

No one wants to be assaulted at work

waitress

Photo by Pixabay

Sexual assault comes in many forms.

Of course, we all know what outright rape is, right? But what about all of the other forms and grades and shades of acting out in a sexual manner against another person? Are those assaults?

I was thinking about this when I read an Indianapolis Star story about an Indiana bar co-owner who banned a patron from his pub because the 60-year-old customer kept making sexual remarks to female staff members.

The man said his remarks would have been OK 20 years ago. But were they really? Or did men just think they were?

I’ve waited tables and have experienced many types of sexual behavior from patrons. When I was 16 years old, I was a junior waitress in a small-town restaurant. Being a junior waitress meant I did all of the other things the regular waitresses did, but I couldn’t carry alcohol to and from tables.

I can’t count the number of times men said or did sexual things to me. One man asked if I was “wearing underwear under that cute uniform.” Another grabbed my butt as I took the order of those at his table. Another patted me on the butt every time he came in. And yet another would lean back in his chair every time I squeezed by so his back brushed against my chest. And all of those things happened when I was 16!

I’m not happy with myself that I didn’t report all of those things to my boss. I’m sure he would’ve behaved like the above-mentioned bar co-owner. But I was afraid I would lose a job I desperately needed. My father had been laid off and I was literally helping pay the bills for a short time. (I didn’t mention those incidences to my dad either, so don’t blame him for anything here.)

People who wait tables are supposed to smile and be friendly, no matter what. Your tips depend on how you interact with the customer. And your tips are basically the majority of your pay. Besides, the customer is always right, right?

“… the dark side of this business is we run into some pretty horrible goblin people,” Black Acre Brewing Co. co-owner Jordan Gleason said in a Facebook post he wrote that has gone viral. “Folks who think that just because we’re serving, we don’t deserve any basic decency or respect…Here’s the thing though, women in this field get infinitely more disgustingly treated. The sheer number of times they get groped, or harassed, or treated like objects would blow your mind. The worst of it is how normal their harassers think their behavior is…

“Men, we often don’t see the level of filth that our friends, sisters, and mothers go through every day. We hope to surround ourselves with people who would never treat a woman like that. We live in a safe little bubble. But the reality of this thing? It’s an insidious disease that’s happening every single day…”

I’m so proud of this manager for standing up to this customer and for the female staff at his establishment.

It’s time for all men to stand up for women, stop treating us like objects and stop making unwanted sexual remarks and advances.

Don’t you agree?

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