I have deliberately avoided writing commentary about sex in the news. But I have changed my mind today, at least this once. Pope Benedict’s resignation and his little red book has me all fired up and it’s time for me to write about sexual abuse as a public health crisis.
Current statistics reveal that 1 in 6 men and 1 in 3 women have experienced some kind of sexual abuse in their lives. These figures are based on reported cases, leaving my inquiring mind speculating about the real prevalence rates. Pope Benedict’s resignation and the revelation of the extent of his knowledge of the abuse crisis are disturbing but come as no surprise to me; it all has to do with a common misunderstanding of a problem I refer to as: The Sex Mice.
I often best understand concepts when I have a visual image to associate with them. An image of scurrying, silent, and determined mice is what my mind has come up with as a picture of human, sexual energy in action – the way it moves in people’s lives and the often unstoppable qualities it has are not unlike how real-live mice behave. Mice can and do get just about anywhere, which means they are everywhere. They are also blind, which is a phenomenon I find especially fascinating, given how competent they are at getting what they want. These features, blindness included, are identical to the force and action of human sexual energy. And, just like mice, sexual energy is omnipresent but until and unless it morphs into a very negative thing, it’s often treated as a mere nuisance rather than a serious problem to fix – just like a horde of mice. This is dangerous, very dangerous. If you have ever had a mouse problem you know what I mean. When mice are allowed to have free-rein they destroy electrical wiring in homes, nest, piss, and shit behind wall boards, steal dog kibble, run across your cutting boards and stove tops leaving tell-tale evidence of their presence as they drop turds and tiny puddles of urine. They also scare you half to death when you get a glimpse of them and most of us have a reflexive response to turn away in hopes they’ll disappear and then we can pretend they’re not there. Sexual energy – when unacknowledged, uninhibited, untethered, and not well managed – can be equally destructive as a horde of mice – and we’d all rather not see this or know about it. Sexual energy will find its way into the tiniest spot in your psyche, stalk you, and can ruin your life or someone else’s when you don’t deal with it constructively. We now have plenty of evidence of this in the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church as well as PennState, Horace Mann, and other venerable institutions who tout their morality as a way to elevate their status in people’s minds. Administrators, like the Pope, knew something was running amok, he knew he had a Sex Mice problem and chose to look away, in hopes it would go away. Mice are everywhere, deal with it. Sex is everywhere, deal with it. Otherwise, as we have seen, the consequences are grave.
Having worked with so many people who have been sexually abused has given me the opportunity to view the consequences of abuse up-close and personal. Victims, almost always, stand alone and talk about the silence associated with their experiences. They lose their voices and in fact the predators modus operandi often includes terrifying threats against them should they speak up. And yet as a nation, we continue to find sex, sexuality, and sexual energy an inappropriate subject for open conversation, despite the inherent benefits of doing otherwise. What will it take for us to change our behavior and overcome our reticence to talk about sex frankly, openly, and especially with factual information, compassion, and an eye on the prevention of abuse? What do we need to encourage us to seek information about human sexuality and therefore understand it better? Open discussions about what healthy sex is, that our criteria for sexual pleasure is deeply personal, and most important that sex is best if never coupled with terror is critical to our life-long health and well-being. And while we refer to sex crimes as not fundamentally about sex but about power and control, the fact is that sex is the weapon of choice for the perpetrator leaving a life-long association between sex and fear, pain, humiliation, and powerlessness in the mind and soul of their victims.
The question remains; what will it take for us all to change our behavior? Will we ever accept that sexual energy is a force to be reckoned with and sexual feelings compelling, even when we wish they weren’t? Are we willing to take on the task of correction or expulsion when the sexual energy of someone amongst us has become as destructive as a horde of mice? This is the real question at hand and the responsibility of each one of us to answer.
Copyright, E. Resh 2013, s