[CONTENT NOTE: rape, abuse, sexual assault, harassment, sexual coercion.]
I have a serious question for you.
Which of these scenarios would you prefer:
(1) living in conditions which include (but are not limited to) rodent and insect infestations, gas leaks, lack of heat and refrigeration, risk of electrocution, peeling lead paint (with a young child in the home), toxic mold so bad you cough up blood, doors that don’t lock, etc.
(2) having sex with maintenance employees as the price for getting any of it fixed, threatened with violence if you do not submit to such demands, and being subject to sexual harassment as a means to intimidate you out of requesting repairs at all.
Via Think Progress:
On Friday, lawyers for [nineteen] women who alleged that employees of Baltimore’s public housing agency demanded sex in return for critical housing repairs announced a settlement for all victims of sexual harassment in public housing.
Besides a financial award between $6 million and $7.5 million, the settlement required Baltimore to fire and ban all the abusers from Housing Authority property, move the plaintiffs into livable homes.
The lawsuit, filed in September, alleged that maintenance men demanded sex from women living in public housing before they would make repairs to their “deplorable conditions,” which included rodent and insect infestations, lack of heat, mold, and electrocution risks. It also claims that at least one employee threatened a woman with violence if she didn’t give into his demands for sex, while another offered a woman cash for sex. The men also allegedly tried to intimidate women out of requesting repairs by sexually harassing them.
“These victims are too poor to move out and relocate their families,” the complaint says. “Consequently, they are left with the impossible choice of either succumbing to unwanted sexual demands in order to save themselves and their children from life-threatening conditions in their homes, or, living in squalor.”
The complaint claims women of nearly all ages — under-aged to in their 50s — and both the disabled and able-bodied were targeted by the harassment and abuse.
Well at least these predators were models of inclusivity and non-discrimination, amirite? Except, unfortunately, when it comes to gender. HEY NOBODY’S PERFECT.
[I just threw up in my mouth a little after writing that. I AM A COMPULSIVE SNARKIST WITH NO HOPE OF REDEMPTION. #sorrynotsorry]
Now that I think about it, here is a better question: what the everloving fuck is the matter with these men—yes, they are all men—who would treat extremely vulnerable women in such degrading and appalling ways?
And another one: what the everloving fuck is the matter with a man in a position to do something about it, but instead looks the other way?
Here is a petition to the mayor of Baltimore (via UltraViolet) requesting removal of Housing Authority Commissioner Paul Graziano, under whose watch all of this occurred, and who is alleged to have known of the women’s complaints and didn’t do a fucking thing about it until forced by the settlement.
Of course, all the clicktivism in the world will not dismantle rape culture—and that’s what this is: rape culture. But nor is it going anywhere without holding accountable those in positions of power who enable it, either. Please sign if you are so inclined.
Have a nice day.