A mes­sage for Slaugh­en­houpt: We women will not sim­ply ‘get over it’

The Calvert Recorder - - Community Forum - Re­nee LaFayette, Prince Fred­er­ick. The writer is pres­i­dent of the Calvert County Women’s Demo­cratic Club.

The Calvert County Demo­cratic Women’s Club has taken is­sue with Board of County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Evan Slaugh­en­houpt’s (R) re­cent so­cial me­dia state­ments which drew a cor­re­la­tion be­tween moder­ately ques­tion­able child­hood games and the ac­cu­sa­tion of at­tempted rape made by Dr. Ford against Supreme Court nom­i­nee Judge Ka­vanaugh. We tried to voice our con­cerns di­rectly to Mr. Slaugh­en­houpt on so­cial me­dia, but he dis­missed them and ac­cused us of play­ing par­ti­san games. Many of us at­tempted to re­spect­fully con­front him di­rectly at the Sept. 25 com­mis­sion­ers’ meet­ing. Again, he dis­missed our con­cern as sim­ple par­ti­san­ship.

Mr. Slaugh­en­houpt, vi­o­lence against women is not a par­ti­san is­sue. It is not a po­lit­i­cal is­sue. It is a real and deep prob­lem that per­me­ates our cul­ture, and state­ments like yours en­able that per­me­ation to thrive. There are young women in this county who have been sex­u­ally as­saulted. If they knew that their elected of­fi­cial, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of their com­mu­nity, viewed their trauma as triv­ial child­ish games, they may de­cide to stay silent. Women all across this na­tion stay silent af­ter such at­tacks fear­ing their com­mu­ni­ties will re­spond in ex­actly the way you have demon­strated on so­cial me­dia. This teaches young women that their pain is ir­rel­e­vant, and teaches young men that such ac­tions are ex­cus­able. As a pub­lic of­fi­cial, it is your duty to pro­vide a safe en­vi­ron­ment for all your con­stituents, even the women.

We were also dis­mayed by the re­ac­tion of the board. Im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing our pow­er­ful state­ment, the other com­mis­sion­ers dis­cussed their county en­gage­ments as though we weren’t there. No state­ment from the sit­ting com­mis­sion­ers, ei­ther in sol­i­dar­ity with our po­si­tion or with Slaugh­en­houpt’s, prompted us to walk out in dis­gust. As women in Amer­ica speak­ing out against vi­o­lence, we are tired of be­ing ig­nored. Ap­par­ently, they had al­ready “got­ten over it,” as Mr. Slaugh­en­houpt asked all of us to do in his state­ment. We greatly ap­pre­ci­ate Com­mis­sioner Pat Nut­ter (R)’s com- ment be­fore the meet­ing’s close that Mr. Slaugh­en­houpt’s views are not the views of the en­tire BOCC. How­ever, the fact that none of the other com­mis­sion­ers even ac­knowl­edged our pres­ence is very telling and con­cern­ing.

De­spite the nu­mer­ous times he has been asked about his state­ment — on so­cial me­dia, in the news­pa­per and in the com­mis­sion­ers’ meet­ing — Mr. Slaugh­en­houpt has failed to con­demn vi­o­lence against women. Af­ter our mes­sage in the Sept. 25 meet­ing, he did not re­spond di­rectly to our con­cern, but in­stead read a pre­pared and re­hearsed state­ment quot­ing hy­per-par­ti­san talk­ing heads con­demn­ing par­ti­san­ship in Amer­ica. Once again, vi­o­lence against women is not a par­ti­san is­sue. Triv­i­al­iz­ing sex­ual pre­da­tion is dis­grace­ful and in­ex­cus­able. Mr. Slaugh­en­houpt con­tin­ues to sim­ply dis­cuss the con­fir­ma­tion of Judge Ka­vanaugh, and re­fuses to ac­knowl­edge the is­sues we are rais­ing.

As we have stated many times, we are not com­ment­ing on Judge Ka­vanaugh. Our con­cerns have noth­ing to do with Judge Ka­vanaugh’s fit­ness for of­fice and have every­thing to do with Mr. Slaugh­en­houpt’s state­ments. His orig­i­nal state­ment did not speak to the truth­ful­ness of the al­le­ga­tion made against the Supreme Court nom­i­nee. The state­ment sug­gested that there is an equiv­a­lency be­tween the as­sault, whether true or not, and the con­sen­sual though in­ap­pro­pri­ate games chil­dren play in ele­men­tary school. A birth­day spank­ing is not at­tempted rape, and to sug­gest so is rep­re­hen­si­ble.

Mr. Slaugh­en­houpt is cor­rect in his as­ser­tion that, as a free Amer­i­can, he has a con­sti­tu­tional right to speak pub­licly. As an elected of­fi­cial, he also has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to his con­stituency who can and will hold him ac­count­able. If that’s too con­se­quen­tial, per­haps elected of­fice isn’t for you.

No, Mr. Slaugh­en­houpt, we will not, as you in­sisted, “get over it.”

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