With all of the allegations of sexual misconduct from decades past bubbling to the surface for politicians, priests, actors, movie moguls, comedians, and others, two things stand to the fore: First, the gig is up. Now people of all ages – both females and males – know that they no longer have to suffer through this despicable behavior in silence. It is now, finally, publicly unacceptable behavior (except maybe in Alabama – we will have to wait until December 12th to find out for sure). Second, here on Guam, it is probably a good time to revisit the current version of the Chamorro tradition of manginge’ – the tradition of young people showing respect to their elders with a sniff of the hand or a kiss.
The original custom was to smell, or sniff the back of an elder’s hand to show respect. In recent years the custom has morphed into people forcing their children to kiss a person that the parent may know, but who may be a total stranger to the child. I’ve experienced this firsthand countless times when meeting relatives of my husband whose children I have never met, but whose mother or father say, “Kiss auntie!” You can tell that the child is uncomfortable. I always try to say, “It’s ok, he (or she) doesn’t know me.”
The danger is that because of that initial “act of respect,” we are opening our children and grandchildren up to potential abuse because the possible abuser can then say to the child in a future (possibly chance, possibly maneuvered) encounter, “Remember me, I’m a friend of your mommy (or daddy).” The child may think that because he or she had to show respect, that they are obliged to listen to that person or to put up with whatever sexual abuse is about to happen.
It’s horrible, but we see these cases all the time in the media. “A person known to the victim” is the current vernacular.
To me, the worst perpetrators are those who have trusted positions. Reading about the Capuchin priest Jack Niland who is accused of raping an Agat altar boy while he was praying made me sick. There should be a special place in hell for such evil.
Then there are those who evoke the bible as justification for sexual transgressions. Like Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler, who tried to defend former judge Roy Moore’s faltering Alabama senatorial campaign in light of multiple accusations of decades-old sexual misconduct with much younger women.
Ziegler told the Washington Examiner, “Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist.” (Never mind that the Bible says Elizabeth was old too). And then, amazingly, “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.” Ziegler did acquiesce that Moore’s conduct may have been “unusual.”
Then there is Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who told Fox News that she doesn’t disbelieve Moore’s accusers, but she’s still voting for him because, quoting Fox here: "We need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to vote on things like Supreme Court justices, other appointments that the Senate has to confirm and make major decisions."
The terrible thing about this defense of perverted behavior, aside from the fact that the people doing the defending are spineless weasels, is that it is a form of pushback against the movement to make such behavior publicly unacceptable. The justification seems to be that, well, it wasn’t rape, so it’s ok if it was just inappropriate touching or whatever. No big deal.
But it is a big deal. Because that’s how inappropriate behavior is able to perpetuate itself, and possibly turn into sexual assault, whether it happens on Guam, in our nation’s capital, or in some tiny town in Alabama. This behavior is not ok and it has to keep being called out as unacceptable.
It’s not difficult to behave appropriately. Just don’t hug or kiss people you don’t know well. I know we do a lot of that out here in the Pacific. It’s part of our culture. But maybe we should not force the act on our children. Also, if you must do the huggy kissy thing, keep your hands away from private parts – breasts, dagan, thighs, in between the thighs. And don’t show your private parts to anyone else. You would think these would be no-brainers. Also, a rule of thumb if you do not want to be accused of sexual misconduct is NEVER to be alone in a room with a young woman or man. (Also, maybe don’t text under-age people if you are in a position of authority.) Another no-brainer.
Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of people out there who have no brains when it comes to this subject.
*Note: One of the best things about us so-called “fake media” is that, online anyway, we can link our sources so you can read the actual stories yourselves.
Jayne Flores is a long-time journalist. She currently works at Guam Community College. She can be reached at email@example.com