The #MeToo movement was supposed to be a turning point for creating greater awareness in the vital campaign against sexual abuse and harassment, and rape culture. It was supposed to be a new dawn where women’s experiences were believed and there were no more excuses for the conduct of those who used sex as a weapon.
Unfortunately, as with so many areas and arenas, it is clear that Jews are not welcome in the #MeToo movement either, or at least not as full and equal partners.
The brutal and vicious massacre of more than 1,400 women, men and children on October 7th, displayed the worst of inhuman barbarity. Murder for the pleasure and joy of the perpetrators, mutilation and physical bodily desecration, were just some of the bestial actions of Hamas death squads.
Furthermore, the kidnapping and abduction of 240 innocent people ranging from 8 months old to an 85-year-old woman to endure unimaginable horrors is an ongoing nightmare for them and their families.
What became clear as the hours and days passed is that there was also mass rape and sexual violence.
There are countless testimonies of women, men and children who were the victims of gang-rape and sexual mutilation.
There is now an infamous video of Hamas terrorists thrusting a young woman in their van with her crotch area sopping with blood, a clear indication of the sexual violence she has just experienced.
The images and stories are out there.
They are undeniable, or so one would think.
As a certified sex therapist, I am a proud member of professional organizations including The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, the largest organization that certifies sexual health practitioners in North America.
Unfortunately, I have witnessed an almost deafening silence from all of the leading health organizations, including those involved with sexual health, against what was done to Israeli women and girls on October 7th.
What I have seen, heard and read are excuses for the behavior of Hamas, directly from people who are supposed to care about calling out rape and sexual violence towards women.
It seems that living and merely existing in Israel is the proverbial “What were you wearing?” asked of rape victims.
There is no sympathy for Israeli victims of rape and sexual violence, and no accountability for the Hamas monsters who used sex as a weapon to project power and bloodthirsty masculinity in order to utterly humiliate and debase their victims.
This should be unconscionable but is now the big global dirty secret of women’s rights and sex therapists’ organizations.
Sex therapists should be leading the charge and accusations against this disgraceful phenomenon, but instead, some join many people around the world, including mainstream journalists, constantly and debasingly asking for more proof.
They do not believe the raw and disturbing images and videos, they do not believe the testimony of experienced pathologists and medical forensics, nor the recorded admissions of captured terrorists.
They do not believe Israeli women.
As Professor Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, an international law expert with a focus on women’s rights, said in an interview in Calcalist: “Based on my prior knowledge I anticipated that there would be gender-based violence, but I didn’t anticipate the extent of the cruelty and brutality that we now realize was an inherent part of the Hamas massacre. Using women as a weapon of war is now clearly recognized as a war crime, certainly a crime against humanity, but it could also amount to genocide.”
As with all of us who work in the field of women’s rights, sex therapy and abuse, Professor Halperin-Kaddari is left astonished by the lack of response or equivocation from global women’s organizations, including and centrally United Nations Women, the United Nations entity working for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
In the field of sex therapy, sexual trauma therapy, is provided to the survivors of sexual violence and rape. As sex therapists, we deal with these issues frequently and are taught as a baseline not to question the traumatic event, but to try and find solutions for dealing with the trauma.
The sex therapists who are questioning, denying or belittling the mass rape of Israeli women on October 7th, and possibly ongoing, are a shame to their profession. They are rejecting the evidence that Hamas death squads were ordered to abduct women and girls for sexual slavery.
They are acting in direct contradistinction to the central elements of their work.
All of the therapies we use, whether Psychodynamic Psychotherapy or Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, all begin with recognition and understanding.
To doubt the testimony of victims of rape and sexual violence sets the women’s rights movement back generations.
All those who do so should seriously reevaluate their chosen profession because it is clear that their work is conditional. It is conditional on the background, people, religion, race, community and nationality of the survivor of sexual violence.
UN Women has a slogan, “No Woman Left Behind”, and it is an important vision for closing the gender and inclusion gap.
Unfortunately, Israeli and Jewish women do feel left behind.
We feel left behind, ignored and marginalized, not by men, but by our friends, colleagues and those who claim ostensibly to lead the women’s rights movement, those that are supposed to be unequivocally combating sexual violence and rape culture.
#MeToo counts for nothing if the women of one people, one community on earth are being shamed into silence and ignored.
You may not see us as equals, but we see you.
Your silence, your condescension and your marginalization speak volumes about how you have let your political views and ideology distort your fight on behalf of women.
Yours is a convenient feminism.
You might have led the fight for the rights of women, the right to be believed, but you have now become what you fought so valiantly against.
Shame on you.
The writer is a certified sex therapist and a mental health professional.