It usually takes three . . . but now there are four.

On average, it takes three women to accuse a male of sexual assault before that male is brought to justice. Why? It takes that many women to pierce through societal prejudices against women and their rights to their own body to show a pattern of male abuse and assault. Society would rather blame the victim for her own sexual assault (the clothes she was wearing, the alcohol she drank, the location she happened upon, etc…) than entertain a criminal indictment against a male perpetrator.

In the case of presidential hopeful Herman Cain, a fourth woman has come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment, tilting the numbers in favor of justice. Sharon Bialek claims that Cain groped her and requested sexual favors in 1997 while he led the National Restaurant Association. At the time, Bialek was looking for work and asking Cain for his assistance in obtaining employment.

Sharon Bialek is the fourth woman to accuse presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual harassment, and the first women to come forward and identify herself.

While news sources, like  CBS ( the link listed in my sources below), refuse to state why the women are not coming forward, I can assure you that the women involved with the two settled lawsuits against Cain undoubtedly signed a confidentiality agreement prohibiting them from speaking publicly again about their allegations or the terms of the settlement without severe financial penalty. They must remain mute. Bialek had no such settlement, so she can come forth with her claims against Cain without fear of such legal reprisal.

However, one only has to look at the treatment of Bialek and other sexual harassment/rape victims in the aftermath of their respective allegations to understand why women are often reluctant to come forward. The Cain campaign has started an insidious and pervasive smear campaign against Bialek. First, according to msnbc, his camp delivered a press release about Bialek calling her “a woman with a long history of severe financial difficulties, including a personal bankruptcy.” If you file bankruptcy, does that negate your right to your own body and sexual decisions? Does a bankruptcy or other financial hardships extinguish the laws and criminal protections afforded those with more wealth and means?

On November 8, 2011, Cain’s campaign also released a longer version (link included below) citing to various lawsuits Bialek has been involved with and implying that the only reason she is coming forward now is for some perceived financial gain. According to Gloria Allred, Bialek’s attorney, Bialek has not provided her story for any financial gain.

If you google Bialek’s name, you can find several articles regarding how unbelievable she is, how her body language betrays her as a liar, tales of her “murky past”, etc…. all reinforcing the idea that in order to substantiate a claim of sexual assault or sexual harassment against a male, and in this case, a powerful male, you must be a perfect female victim with no flaws and no “murky” history. This is exactly why it takes three females to successfully stand against one male perpetrator.

Cain himself has been voicing his innocence and calling his accusers liars, even on the “Jimmy Kimmel Show.” Cain also flippantly and snidely pondered whether Anita Hill will “endorse” him, reminding us that in 1991, Anita Hill stood alone in her claims of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice despite her allegations. Anita Hill was only one accuser.

Of course, I have yet to see anyone ask, “Mr. Cain, if you are so innocent of these charges, why were these two cases settled? Isn’t it true that those who profess their innocence will fight the charges to the bitter end?”

In typical patriarchal fashion, Cain has called out his wife of 43 years, Gloria, to stand by his side and defend him. She has been noticeably absent on the campaign trail. According to Cain, she not been at his side campaigning, as she has been keeping his home calm and peaceful (their children are adults, grown and out of the home, so I am unsure what he is referring to).

Gloria Cain has stated her husband could not be guilty of such things of which he is accused as “he totally respects women.” However, Ms. Cain did not witness Bialek’s requests for Herman Cain’s assistance in finding employment – she was not in attendance when the alleged sexual harassment occurred. According to msnbc, Gloria Cain also said something more curious about her husband:

I’m thinking he would have to have a split personality to do the
things that were said. – Gloria Cain

Perhaps that last comment explains it all.

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