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WARNING: Parts of this article contain sensitive material and may be NSFW.
This past November, two-time Olympic gymnast and six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman came forward with sexual assault allegations against disgraced former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Nassar, the 54-year-old who has now been accused of sexually assaulting more than 260 girls and women over the course of at least two decades, was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on three counts of child pornography in December before being sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in state prison on seven counts of sexual assault last month and an additional 40 to 125 years in state prison on three more counts of sexual assault earlier this month.
Raisman, a 23-year-old native of Needham, Massachusetts, was not initially planning on delivering a victim impact statement in person at the sentencing hearing for Nassar in Ingham County, which resulted in his 40 to 175-year state prison sentence.
Here is what she had to say about the matter on Twitter.
However, after hearing several of the other survivors deliver their impact statements, Raisman felt like she needed to be there to do the same. She ended up delivering an extremely powerful statement that drew national attention almost immediately.
Here is her full statement.
But not even one month after Raisman delivered this statement and became an inspiration to thousands of people, the public attitude about her has unfortunately changed drastically for the worse.
There has been tons of backlash against Raisman, much of which has come on social media, given the fact that she took part in photo shoots for the 2018 edition of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, including the “In Her Own Words” photo shoot. These images were released last week, and she immediately came under fire as a result of them.
Here is just the tip of the iceberg of the hate and victim shaming that she has received as a result of these images.
You are loathsome
She is disgusting
Don’t forget to pack your thong leotards you disgraceful pig
Just another dumb slut.
Lmao what a stupid twatwaffle
Didn’t this bitch just accuse someone of sexual harassment
Ali IS a joke.
Survivor my ass. I don’t remember seeing her name in a plane crash, build collapse or a multi story building fire. She put up with the touchy feely so she could make the team and get her gold medal and now she cries foul. It be little’s actual people that survived a real disaster that had their lives to gain, not some piece of shit medal
And yet she claims rape or violated. Many of them actually do secret enjoy it and wakes up a wild side
Whores are a joke!
This woman is a fool.
Because she has no brain…
Can’t really blame Nassar now, can ya?
Whores and Hypocrites.
What comes to mind first is she must be somewhat of a publicity whore. One can’t help but infer that all the time she spent whining to the various news outlets via interviews was nothing but a promotional tour for this SI spread. Or she may be in need of some serious psychiatric help.
Whore in every way possible.
Bullshit you whores just want attention
Just think — the people writing these comments are the people attempting to take the moral high ground in this situation.
I’ve said it a million times before, and I’ll say it a million more times if I have to: I am not a feminist, at least not based on the third-wave definition of the word. I believe in equality of the sexes.
However, there is clear double standard being exemplified by these vile remarks, and it doesn’t take a third-wave feminist to realize it.
Here is a list of men who have recently taken part in the “Body Issue” of ESPN The Magazine. Note that this list does not include all of them.
- Nelson Cruz – MLB
- Dwight Howard – NBA
- Carl Edwards – NASCAR
- Ryan Lochte – Swimming
- Adrian Peterson – NFL
- Casey Hampton – NFL
- Torry Holt – NFL
- Joba Chamberlain – MLB
- Ivan Rodriguez – MLB
- Mark Martin – NASCAR
- Patrick Willis – NFL
- Amar’e Stoudemire – NBA
- Herschel Walker – NFL
- Apolo Ohno – Speed skating
- Jose Reyes – MLB
- Blake Griffin – NBA
- Helio Castroneves – IndyCar
- Tyson Chandler – NBA
- Rob Gronkowski – NFL
- Jose Bautista – MLB
- Maurice Jones-Drew – NFL
- Colin Kaepernick – NFL
- Matt Harvey – MLB
- Giancarlo Stanton – MLB
- John Wall – NBA
- Vernon Davis – NFL
- Kenneth Faried – NBA
- Serge Ibaka – NBA
- Marshawn Lynch – NFL
- Larry Fitzgerald – NFL
- Prince Fielder – MLB
- Odell Beckham Jr. – NFL
- Bryce Harper – MLB
- Kevin Love – NBA
- DeAndre Jordan – NBA
- Jake Arrieta – MLB
- Dwyane Wade – NBA
- Antonio Brown – NFL
- Von Miller – NFL
- Vince Wilfork – NFL
- Javier Baez – MLB
- Isaiah Thomas – NBA
- Julian Edelman – NFL
- Ezekiel Elliott – NFL
- Zach Ertz – NFL
Just to use one example from this list, take this picture of former MLB player Prince Fielder.
How much public outrage did this image spark?
I’d venture to guess that the combined public outrage sparked by the images of all the male athletes listed above and even those not included on the list who took part in The Body Issue pales into comparison to the outrage that has taken place as a result of the recent images of Raisman such as this one.
So these people who claim to be upset by the fact that Raisman is taking part in this kind of photo shoot and are lashing out at her solely because of it aren’t really upset by the fact that she is taking part in this kind of photo shoot and lashing out at her solely because of it.
How do I know? Because if they were, you’d hear athletes such as Bryce Harper, Rob Gronkowski, Jake Arrieta and Antonio Brown get booed every time they took the field.
Then why the huge outrage over Raisman’s photos?
Here’s a quote from a pastor regarding how women are viewed in today’s society.
The way that women are sung about and talked about, in most cases, our culture is presenting women as commodities…the culture is treating them as commodities.
This quote could not be more accurate, and there is evidence of this everywhere you look. I’m just going to keep it real here.
An overwhelming majority of these derogatory remarks have come from men. But as noted above, an overwhelming majority of these men have had no issue with or lashed out at any male athletes when they have taken part in these kinds of photo shoots, much less to the extent that they have had issues with and lashed out at Raisman as a result of her taking part in them.
There’s no way around either of these two statements. Period. They are facts. Now let’s get to the point.
The reason that makes the most sense as to why these men feel the need to lash out at Raisman for taking part these photo shoots while remaining silent when male athletes take part in them is because of the fact that she is a young, attractive woman. Thus, a lot of these men are “turned on” by these images.
Just keeping it real.
Therefore, when these people react to these images in a certain way — a way by which an overwhelming majority of them would not dream of reacting when looking at the images of male athletes — a lack of willingness to accept responsibility for their own behavior leads to blame, and they attempt to justify their own behavior by placing the blame on Raisman since she is the person in the image that led them to react the way they did.
The anger that these people have as a result of their reactions leads them to blame Raisman for their reactions. It then turns into blaming her for Nassar’s assault. In essence, the logic that these people use is that because she took part in these photo shoots, Nassar’s sexual assault is justified because she is “asking for it”.
Therefore, their reactions also must be justified because their behavior isn’t as bad as Nassar’s, and only Raisman is to blame since she is the person in the image. They share their anger accordingly — in the form of hate and victim shaming.
Of course, there was still backlash against her when she took part in The Body Issue in 2015 and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit in 2017 before she revealed that she had been assaulted in November of 2017.
However, if the whole basis of argument for these victim shamers is that Raisman should not be taking part in these photo shoots since she was sexually assaulted and therefore should not be “asking for it”, this completely invalidates their own argument.
Of course, Raisman having been sexually assaulted has amplified the backlash and the victim shaming. Why? Because as discussed above, when these people react to seeing these images, they do everything they can do to justify their behavior. Attempting to justify Nassar’s behavior makes it easier for them to attempt to justify their own.
With all of this in mind, the argument of being upset that Raisman is taking part in these photo shoots solely because of the fact that she is taking part in these photo shoots is a load of garbage.
Certain people are just looking for someone to blame because they cannot control themselves nor accept responsibility for their own behavior, and Raisman is the person who receives that blame since she is the person in the image.
Again, just keeping it real.
What is even worse is the fact that according to USA Today, Raisman herself has stated that people have actually come up to her and asked her why her sexual assault claims should be taken seriously by anybody since she took part in these photo shoots.
I actually had somebody say something to me a couple months ago saying, ‘I don’t understand how you can complain that you were molested because you participated in Sports Illustrated‘s (Swimsuit magazine)’
Keep in mind, everything in this article is 100% relevant whether or not you think taking part in these photo shoots is ethical. That is a completely different argument and this article has not and will not touch on it.
Why? Because it is actually irrelevant to the point of this article. Regardless of your opinion on that particular subject, these images certainly do not warrant the backlash against Raisman and the victim shaming that she has received as a result of them — backlash and victim shaming that she unfortunately knew to expect.
According to Yahoo, she stated that she didn’t even go online after the images were released.
I didn’t look online yesterday. Yesterday, I just felt really at peace…It’s hard to argue with the words I put on my body, but I know that people still think that if a woman is wearing a sexy outfit, she’s asking for it. That she deserves to be attacked. That has to stop.
These images also certainly do not justify Nassar’s sexual assault, which is something that some people are actually attempting to justify, as you have probably figured out by now.
What it all boils down to is this: when certain people look at these photo shoots, they react in a certain way. Then they blame this reaction on Raisman because they can’t accept the fact that they are responsible for it and Raisman is the easiest person to blame since she is the person who is in the image.
In an attempt to justify their own behavior, they attempt to justify Nassar’s sexual behavior — behavior that is never justifiable and never will be no matter how you slice it. If they feel like they have justified Nassar’s behavior or even come close to doing so, which some of them sadly do, they feel that theirs can be justified.
But at the same time, they realize that their behavior is still not acceptable and they still don’t want to accept the responsibility for it. So at the end of the day, Raisman ends up being the person taking the most hate and blame for it — unwarranted hate and blame at that — just because she is the person who is in the image.
In some cases, as you can see from the comments listed above, the comments she has received are so vile that she is essentially taking even more hate and blame than Nassar is despite the fact that is was Nassar who sexually assaulted her. It is an utter disgrace.
Asher C. Fair
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