Earlier this week, I asked you to sign a petition, imploring Richard Dawkins not to act as though he speaks on behalf of all abuse victims. Why his statements were problematic has been detailed all over the place, and I’m not going to re-hash them. Because Dawkins has done what many of us feared he would not: Over 600 signatures and many conversations later, Dawkins apologized:
I cannot know for certain that my companions’ experiences with the same teacher were are brief as mine, and theirs may have been recurrent where mine was not. That’s why I said only “I don’t think he did any of us lasting damage”. We discussed it among ourselves on many occasions, especially after his suicide, and there was indeed general agreement that his gassing himself was far more upsetting than his sexual depredations had been. If I am wrong about any particular individual; if any of my companions really was traumatised by the abuse long after it happened; if, perhaps it happened many times and amounted to more than the single disagreeable but brief fondling that I endured, I apologise.
While his statement is not perfect, it’s an excellent and unprecedented first step. Greta writes:
I still have some issues with this statement. Dawkins still seems somewhat fixated on the idea that the damage done by childhood sexual abuse is contingent on the frequency of the abuse, or the specific kind of sexual contact. But IMO, this apology is an important step. He has acknowledged that it was wrong of him to extrapolate from his own experience with being molested, which he sees as not having done him any lasting damage, and assume that other people’s experiences and responses to those experiences were the same as his.
There is a reason we remain vocal and loud in this movement – a movement that seems hellbent on shutting us up. And I’d be lying if I said shutting up doesn’t seem like a tempting option at times. But despite the fact that I often feel like giving up, I know that to do so would simply be a victory for the people who think they own this movement. Seeing this kind of progress being made is why I continue to fight.
Thank you to all of you who signed the petition and made your voices heard, those of you who shared this story, those of you who said they wouldn’t let this trivialization stand… and thank you to Richard Dawkins for taking strides in the right direction.