By Alex, YAAB Member
This February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and me, along with everybody else at A Woman’s Place, whether it be staff members or fellow volunteers, consider this special month a time to raise awareness in our community and, more importantly, to be aware ourselves. On the topic of awareness, a recent sexual harassment crime has left one man’s legacy as the USA Gymnastics national team doctor and an osteopathic physician at Michigan State University blatantly destroyed. Dr. Larry Nassar, who, on January 24th, was convicted and sentenced to 40 to 175 years in a state prison in Michigan after pleading guilty to the sexual assault of minors, completely demolished his reputation as both a professional and a human being. His molestation of at least 250 underage girls, which he openly admitted to in state court, has been received with massive amounts of vehement testimony from celebrities, professional athletes, and gymnasts around the country alike.
Now, as an educated seventeen-year-old male, as a junior in high school, and as an aware and moral young man, I believe that I am qualified to have an opinion on this putrid issue. Sexual harassment has been a problem for decades on end. During the two World Wars, when women labored in factories, producing various materials exclusive to the war effort, many factory owners, most of which were men, took sexual advantage of these female laborers. Exploitation came and went, with virtually none of the women standing up to protect their bodies and their rights as humans. However, over the past few years, a positive trend in the reporting of these scandalous events has taken hold, and this scandal is just a widely-publicized example. Women have exhibited extreme courage in standing up for themselves and calling out their abusers. This must continue if we long to prevent sexual assault from ever violating the rights of these beautiful, smart, and passionate women ever again.
Regarding Dr. Nassar, it is only right and completely just for him to live behind bars for the rest of his pitiful existence. The manner and longevity of his crimes against female gymnasts deserve only the harshest punishment, and no forgiveness can be made on his behalf. I cannot express exactly how proud I am of all the radiant women who chose to speak out against Nassar, ending their long, painful period of silence. However, there is more work to be done. We, as a society, can certainly build upon this crime and learn from it on our quest to end sexual assault and violence once and for all. I urge all readers who have either witnessed, heard about from friends and/or family, or personally experienced any conduct of this explicit nature to speak out against your perpetrators, because we CAN end sexual assault, and if victims speak out, we WILL end this criminal activity.