Posts Tagged ‘sexual abuse’


Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey are here in Arizona, up in Wickenburg at The Meadows, a very expensive ($58,000 for 45 days) 12-step treatment program.

This is ridiculous on more than one count, most importantly that Spacey and Weinstein are not afflicted with “sex addiction.” Rather, they’ afflicted with power-over-others “addiction,” and the abusive behavior that results from it. Give people power over others, and it’s a safe bet that a great many of them will abuse it.

Second, “sex addiction” is not a recognized disorder in the standard handbook on mental disorders, the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (5th ed.). It’s a pop culture term dating from the 1980s, whose roots seem to lie in the anti-sexual attitudes of conservative Christians and in the authoritarian, prudish feminism of figures such as Andrea Dworkin. It’s more of the “same old same old” pathologizing of sex that’s been such a dreary part of American life for centuries.

Third, the type of “treatment” Spacey and Weinstein are receiving for this trumped up malady is 12-step treatment, which is ineffective across the board. (See “Alcoholics Anonymous is Not Effective” for info on the granddaddy of and model for all subsequent 12-step programs; see also the authoritative Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches, by Reid Hester and William Miller.)

So, Spacey and Weinstein are receiving (insofar as it’s 12-step based) ineffective treatment for an imaginary addiction, while their real problem — their willingness to use their positions of power to exploit and abuse others — goes unaddressed.

In the end, it seems that all they’ve done is find a convenient way to remove themselves from the spotlight, while giving the appearance of doing something about their awful behavior. They’ll emerge from rehab in January, their PR flacks will proclaim them rehabilitated — and they’ll quite probably go back to business as usual, insofar as they can get away with it.

That’s a shame for both Spacey, Weinstein, and their victims, and for the rest of us, because sexual abuse by the powerful has wider than individual implications. It’s a symptom of the sickness at the heart of our current authoritarian, hierarchical political and economic organization that gives some vast power over others. This whole affair could have spurred much needed discussion about that sickness. But it hasn’t, and likely won’t, especially as it’s being addressed as a matter of individual failure rather than pervasive sociopolitical failure.


Catholicism graphic from The American Heretic's DictionaryWhile perusing fark.com yesterday I found a link to an AP story, “Grand Jury: 2 bishops hid sex abuse of hundreds of children.” It contains the following paragraphs:

In a practice seen in other dioceses, the bishop created a “payout chart” to help guide how much victims would receive from the church, the report said. Victims fondled over their clothes were to be paid $10,000 to $25,000; fondled under their clothes or subjected to masturbation, $15,000 to $40,000; subjected to forced oral sex, $25,000 to $75,000; subjected to forced sodomy or intercourse, $50,000 to $175,000.

Clergy abuse scandals are not new to the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese.

Sickening, yes. But also typical. Elsewhere, the AP article informs readers that American Catholic Dioceses have paid out “nearly $4 billion since 1950” to settle sexual abuse cases. Then consider that the total should be even higher: a dozen U.S. Catholic dioceses have declared bankruptcy in order to stiff survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

And this deeply perverted Dark Age institution still has the unmitigated gall to claim moral authority. It still arrogantly passes judgment on the sexual practices of consenting adults.  And its minions still use the coercive powers of the state, wherever they’re able, to intrude into the private lives of everyone.

Those decent people who still support this sick, authoritarian institution should be ashamed of themselves. By staying in it, they provide cover for the pedophiles and those who hide the pedophiles’ crimes.

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For perhaps the ultimate comment on this matter, check out the short film, Louis CK learns about the Catholic Church.