Courageous Women Gymnasts Expose Systematic Sexual Molestation and Abuse…
WHY Hadn't Anyone Listened to Them? HOW Did It Go On So Long?

February 12, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


In mid-January, over 150 women testified about the sexual abuse they said they had suffered at the hands of Dr. Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics national team doctor. They had been young women and little girls with big dreams, setting out with determination to soar in athletic achievement and competition. In this pursuit, they and their families turned to a man sold to them not only as a healer but a “miracle worker.”

Instead, he betrayed their trust, manipulated their innocence, and violated their young bodies. He lied—convincing them that his sexual violations were necessary “medical procedures.” He shamed them into keeping his horrendous secret as if they had done wrong, not him. Some were driven to abandon their deepest passion for athletics. Others compartmentalized and soldiered on, enduring abuse as the “price” of pursuing their dreams. All of them carry scars that reverberate still.

Violated, manipulated, preyed upon, and tossed aside as disposable little girls by Nassar and those who protected him, they had become an army of women standing strong, shattering the silence, and righteously demanding justice.

It was a powerful moment and needs to be a rallying cry to many more: THIS ABUSE MUST STOP!

But the questions cry out: How and why was all this allowed to go on for so long? And what will end this?

Women Ignored, Warning Signs Dismissed, Abuse Covered Up

Nassar preyed on young girls and women for over two decades. Charges of abuse were ignored, covered up or suppressed. Michigan State University, where Nassar worked, finally conducted an investigation in 2014, but it went nowhere. USA Gymnastics has admitted it knew of Nassar’s abuse in 2015, but instead of alerting the other institutions he worked for so he’d be stopped from continuing to damage or destroy young girls’ lives, they kept it quiet and paid Nassar’s victims to stay quiet as well!

Former gymnast Rachael Denhollander writes:

[V]ictims began to come forward who had tried to sound the alarm years before I walked into that M.S.U. [Michigan State University] clinic to meet the celebrated doctor. Not only were they suffering the devastation of sexual assault; they were suffering deep wounds from having been silenced, blamed and often even sent back for continued abuse ... at least 14 coaches, trainers, psychologists or colleagues had been warned of his abuse. What is truly stomach-turning is the realization that a vast majority of those victims were abused after his conduct was first reported by two teenagers to M.S.U.’s head gymnastics coach as far back as 1997.

Denhollander recounts that she lost friends, her church, and her privacy after publicly exposing Nassar in 2016, and was subject to attacks, insults, and slander. She concluded, “Yet all of it served as a reminder: These were the very cultural dynamics that had allowed Larry Nassar to remain in power.” (New York Times, January 26)

She’s right.

What About the Roots of Abuse?

Let’s face it, Larry Nassar’s abuse was extreme, but it’s not some bizarre exception. Sexually dominating, using, and exploiting women, seeing them as less than and subordinate to men, is how this whole society trains men—and women—from family relations, to mainstream TV, movies, and song, to schoolyard culture, to raw pornography.

Ask yourself why this same kind of predation happened to both boys and girls in the Catholic Church for decades (and no doubt centuries), continually covered up with priests being allowed to continue their crimes elsewhere (while priests who dared to defy the Church’s political stances in even the slightest ways were often, by contrast, driven out)?

Why was this same kind of predation, in this case done to young boys, done at Penn State University and again, covered up for years? Why, as well, is sexual abuse pervasive—and protected—in the armed forces at every level? And countless other examples could be given.

Ask yourself why even women in positions of authority participated in the coverup. Ask yourself why those who initially exposed this were stigmatized and ostracized.

While all this predation is bestial and while many can see this clearly after the fact, why does this go on, year after year, and in one realm after another—if not for the deep social relations of the oppression of women built into this society’s economic and political relations and functioning, and the cultural reinforcement and normalization through things like pornography and the even more widely spread pornification of the culture, including in advertising?

Most of all: What kind of society and what kind of system are we living under that produces and maintains such institutions and such a culture? And what kind of change is needed—and how deep must it go—to really put an end to this once and for all?

These questions demand to be asked—and answered. It is very important that, in the context of the overall current upsurge around #MeToo and against sexual assault and predation, many more people are beginning to search for these answers. There was a beginning to this kind of oppression, in the rise of class-divided societies roughly 10,000 years ago; and there can be an end to it as well, as part of getting rid of all relations of exploitation, all forms of oppression, and all the institutions and ideas that reinforce that exploitation and oppression. We, here at, urge people to dig into the important writings from Bob Avakian, the architect of a whole new synthesis of revolution and human emancipation, as a crucial part of this. This is a very good place to start: Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution.

No, Judge Aquilina—Extra-Legal Vengeance Is NOT the Answer!

However, rather than open up these questions, reactionary forces in society are telling us instead to celebrate Judge Rosemarie Aquilina as a great advocate for victims.

Why? Because, during sentencing, she lashed out at Nassar, boasting that she had essentially signed his “death warrant” and bemoaning the fact that, “Our Constitution does not allow for cruel and unusual punishment.” She even made clear that, if not for that constitutional prohibition, she “might allow what he did to all of these beautiful souls—these young women in their childhood—I would allow someone or many people to do to him what he did to others.” In other words, sitting on the bench, robed with the full authority of the state, she wished for Nassar to be raped—something he knows, something everyone knows—is widespread in prison, and now all the more likely because of her words. In this way, she is training people in and fostering blood revenge. Imagine if this “standard of justice” were applied to other crimes—if everyone who beat someone up were then beaten by the state, if people who accidentally killed a child while driving drunk had their child killed in retribution.

While it can be understood why so many are pulled toward revenge, indulging that feeling—even in the case of horrendous crimes—is extremely harmful. Revenge degrades those who engage in it. It may temporarily salve the feelings of those who commit it, but it leads away from tearing open the deeper and urgently posed questions about the institutions and wider culture that need to be dug up from their roots. This makes the problem worse—as the system grinds on, regenerating the same social antagonisms that gave rise to the initial horror, masses of people get caught up in fighting and even killing each other in a worsening spiral. Think of the nightmare of mutual killing and genocide in Rwanda between the Tutsis and the Hutus in the 1990s and the reverberations that played out in Central Africa over the next decade, with millions dying. Think of the Hindu/Muslim bloodletting during the partition of India in 1947. Think of the thousands of Black youths who have been turned against each other in retributional warfare rooted in gang conflict in places like Chicago. In every case, the system that set the conditions for people’s suffering continued unchallenged, while the people paid an ever-higher price. This is not something we should want! Ultimately, you can become what you say you hate—Aquilina, the supposed avenger of the rape victims, effectively sets up the man she sentences... for rape.

To be clear: It is absolutely necessary that a proven, serial sexual predator like Nassar spend many years in prison. Justice demands it—but it also demands much, much more.

The goal, after all, should be—and is—ending the oppression of women and all forms of oppression, and getting to a world where people will shake their heads in wonder and pity that humans ever lived in a society such as this.


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