Recently, Aly Raisman revealed that she was sexually abused by her team doctor, starting when she was a young teenager. The world responded with horror, sympathy, and support.
Except for Aly's former teammate, Gabby Douglas.
For whatever reason, she decided to respond by appearing to victim-blame Aly. And that did not go over well.
Aly Raisman joins over 130 women in accusing Dr. Larry Nassar of sexual abuse.
Coming forward about sexual assault is never easy, for a whole host of reasons. From society's judgmental attitude to the legal system forcing survivors to relive their trauma to internalized feelings of shame and confusion ... it's tough.
Coming forward as a celebrity, where the spotlight magnifies so many of those deterrents, is even harder.
(Among those accusers is former teammate McKayla Maroney, who also showed extraordinary bravery in sharing her #MeToo story as a celebrity)
Aly Raisman revealed details of her sex abuse, in a story that is tragically familiar, alleging that Dr. Nassar began molesting her when she was just 15.
Larry Nassar, who is currently in jail and awaiting sentencing for some gross but unsurprising child pornography charges, allegedly passed off his molestation as "therapeutic massage."
(It's not uncommon for gymnasts of this caliber to require a number of therapies, including massage, because what they do can be tremendously hard on their bodies)
Dr. Nassar's alleged abuse of these girls went on for years.
On Friday, Aly Raisman posted a follow-up, responding to some of the responses that
"Just because a woman does a sexy photoshoot or wears a sexy outfit does not give a man the right to shame her or not believe her when she comes forward about sexual abuse."
Absolutely true. Some victim-blamers try to say that if a survivor of childhood sexual abuse goes on to enjoy sex as an adult or flaunt her body, then she must not have suffered enough as a child. That is wrong and also vile.
(Some of those same people will look to a woman who grows up to be a sex-repulsed shut-in and say that she needs to "get over it," which is not better)
"What is wrong with some of you? AND when a woman dresses sexy it does not give a man the right to sexually abuse her EVER."
Women may dress however they like. And literally nothing could give one human being the right to sexually assault or abuse another.
"Women are allowed to feel sexy and comfortable in their own skin; in fact I encourage you all to wear what you feel good in."
Note that she's not saying that all woman need to dress sexily. Some women will feel good in a crop top. Others in a turtleneck. Others in a niqab.
"I will not put up with any woman being shamed for wanting to wear a skirt, dress, etc. I do not tolerate it. Are we clear?"
Yes ma'am. Very clear.
"Oh, and one more thing. STOP VICTIM SHAMING. It is because of you that so many survivors live in fear."
Everything that Aly Raisman said was true and also well-said. It's sad that she had to defend herself and others like that.
Gabby Douglas, however, saw things a little differently.
Quoting her former teammate's post, Gabby added her own words:
"However, it is our responsibility as woman to dress modestly and be classy. Dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd."
Rather than pointing out that there are various photos and videos of Gabby Douglas dressed in manners that, in her universe, might "entice the wrong crowd," let's instead say this:
It is not a woman's responsibility, or anyone's responsibility, to dress modestly. You can fall asleep naked at a party and no one is entitled to touch you.
Also, and this is almost beside the point, but plenty of good people are "enticed" by sexiness. Gabby Douglas appears to believe that men who like modesty aren't sex abusers and that others are.
Again, folks, sexual predation doesn't have a stake in how you dress or what side of the political aisle you sit on. Predators exist in every social circle, and there are those who delight in using their "family values" image to allay suspicion.
Well, apparently Gabby was known for her questionable views.
Fellow Olympic gymnast Simone Biles shared a screencap of Gabby's truly awful take, and wrote:
"Shocks me that I’m seeing this but it doesn’t surprise me... honestly seeing this brings me to tears bc as your teammate I expected more from you & to support her. I support you Aly [hearts emoji] & all the other women out there! STAY STRONG"
That is the correct view. It must be heartbreaking to hear that from someone who rose to fame by your side, with whom you shared such a unique experience.
Gabby responded to the backlash by deleting her original message and tweeting again:
"i didn’t correctly word my reply & i am deeply sorry for coming off like i don’t stand alongside my teammates. regardless of what you wear, abuse under any circumstance is never acceptable. i am WITH you. #metoo"
It's good that she apologizes. We're not sure how her message could be the result of poor phrasing.
However, she's using the #MeToo hashtag, which implies that she's had her own awful experiences. It may be that she's still processing something ... and potentially blames herself.