For me, the recent surge of voices coming out against Sexual Predation is akin to a revolution. It is thoroughly depressing to think about how long such alleged sexual predators as Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, and Harvey Weinstein got away with their predatory behavior, but at least the Women And Men rising up against such powerful men gives me hope. As honoree Ashley Judd stated at the Women's Media Center Awards, we have reached a “tipping point” for such violations, a point where sexual predation is not tolerated anymore.

We have reached a 'tipping point' but...

Now, though I largely agree with this “tipping point” sentiment, I am also keenly aware that this very well publicized wave of resistance against sexual predation will pass and sexual predators will still prey on others, most prominently women and members of the LBGTQ community. That is, in terms of this "tipping point" sentiment, I think at the very least, this historical moment will enact change, including workplaces becoming intolerant of sexual predation of any kind and women and men forcefully speaking up against sex offenders in a much healthier atmosphere where people will believe them. However, we can't stop there, we still must work toward eradicating sexual predation.

The root causes of sexual predation

A revolution can’t be a real revolution unless it signifies real and permanent change, which, in turn, can’t happen unless we get at the root causes of sexual predation. I have studied this issue in some depth and while I can’t get at every root cause in this article, what follows is a rough sketch of the root causes of sexual predation.

Hypermasculinity

We have a very toxic form of masculinity in this country. With such a norm of masculinity pervading, far too many men are still conditioned to suppress those attributes we think of as “feminine” and “maternal,” e.g., emotional expressions, empathy, compassion, nurturance, and so on, attributes necessary for real bonding and intimate connections with others.

Hypermasculine men must always work to affirm their hypermasculinity. Women are a key source of validation for these men through sexualization, domination, and control. Most disturbingly, what makes hypermasculinity so dysfunctional is that such men are always at war with themselves because those “feminine” attributes they have suppressed – attributes hypermasculine men see as contaminating the self – constantly press for expression. When this pressing happens, hypermasculine men then need to re-suppress such feelings. To do that, they project their loathing for such attributes on others (women, LBGTQ people), to which they then degrade (or worse!) via subordinating them as a way of physically rejecting those internal feelings.

Patriarchy

Patriarchal thinking is a way of normalizing (self) destructive aspects of ourselves such as how hypermasculine men strive for power, dominance, control, and a general privileged authority and superiority over others. For our focus here, patriarchy is where the authoritarian need to control and subordinate others comes from, especially – for patriarchal/hypermasculine men – women.

Consumerism

Consumerism infects us with so much that is (self) destructive. In the case of sexual predation, consumerist media discourses (and here I’m not just talking about pornography but other media discourses such as film, TV, advertisement, graphic novels, the Internet) create all sorts of dysfunctional behavior.

For example, consumerist media discourses warp men's sexuality out of all proportion, devastating for men’s already strong sex drives. Most damaging is how consumerist media discourses objectify and dehumanize women. Less discussed is how media consumerist discourses disconnects us from each other, via hyper-accentuating our need to satisfy our consumption appetites instead of more connective bonding with each other. These implications of consumerist media discourses devastatingly degrade our empathy, crucial for treating each other with respect and dignity.

Monsters are not born, they are created

Again, though these are the core elements of what goes into creating a sexual predator, there are many other ingredients.

For example, religious doctrine has preached that women are the property of men – told to be obedient to men – a legacy that we are just now finally shedding, though this sensibility of supremacy lingers. Of course, such root causes breed others, such as children who have been molested by sexual predators going on to be sexual predators. And that, then, gets to why addressing these root causes is just so crucial. These elements are a toxic recipe indeed. As I stated in a previous article, sexual monsters are not born, they are created, and their creation stems from this toxic brew. If we are to ever fully eradicate sexual predation, we must eliminate these toxic elements from our very way of being.

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