Simone Biles is an Olympic gymnast who has recently come forward with her story of abuse at the hands of Larry Nassar, a doctor who was convicted on child pornography charges and sexual assault. Simone was abused by this doctor for years before she realized that what he had been doing to her wasn’t right. She explains how she would have never known if it hadn’t been for another girl telling Simone that she too had experienced similar abuse from him. Simone then went to tell her mom about what happened and they both contacted the police so Simone could get justice after being sexually assaulted for so many years.
But what’s interesting is how Simone’s story was covered by the media. These powerful articles don’t focus on how it was that she realized someone had been sexually assaulting her, but rather focus on how brave she has been to stand up for herself and every other young woman who has been sexually abused when she could’ve just kept quiet about what had happened to her. Just look at the title of this one: “Simone Biles Is Ready To Be A Role Model Again.” It would be nice if we could talk about how brave it is for a young woman who was sexually abused to come forward with their story, but instead we decide to focus on what an inspiration she will be now that she’s speaking up instead of just silently releasing all this pain that has been happening inside of her without saying anything or getting help.
It’s problematic because it means there are people out there who will only want to support Simone now that she’ll be an inspiration for other victims rather than supporting survivors unconditionally no matter what they choose to do with their life. And you know what?
#MeToo: Simone Biles is
just one of countless people who have been sexually abused and are now speaking up about it.
Also, the media has a tendency to highlight certain survivors over others depending on what they’ve gone through and how famous they are. For instance, this writer from ABC News wrote an article called “Simone Biles Is Ready To Be A Role Model Again” but then there’s this writer from Teen Vogue who wrote an article called “The Chronology Of Larry Nassar’s Crimes Against Young Women.” Where is their voice in all of this? They’re still a survivor, why isn’t anyone listening to them? Why wasn’t I taught these things in school? These powerful articles don’t even mention how Simone is not the only one speaking out against Larry anymore – there are more survivors coming forward as well as “regular people” who didn’t even know him but still wanted to share their stories of sexual assault and abuse with the world.
Sexual assault doesn’t only happen to famous people and everyone has a story to tell about how they’ve been affected by it in some way, whether it’s directly or indirectly. Victim-blaming is also very prominent when we talk about survivors because we don’t believe them or think what someone did was right so therefore it’s not considered rape.