Money, power, and sexual abuse

It’s encouraging (to say the very least) for me to see the “me too” tags on social media. Sexual abuse is rampant (to say the very least), and it’s one thing to know the statistics about the fact that most women will be sexually abused, but it’s another thing to face it and to feel the full weight of it, particularly from women that you know and love, particularly when I think of my own young nieces and the challenges they will face, based solely on their gender. For me, “me too” is encouraging but also heart breaking, but in many ways, that’s the point.

The “me too” tag shines a light on the darkness, it speaks what goes unspoken. We all must join together in this, in solidarity, but it must be women who lead the fight, and men must follow. I don’t mean to diminish the fact that boys and men are also sexually abused, but statistically speaking, women are targeted.

Sexual abuse flourishes when there are great power differentials. It’s gut wrenching to hear of sexual abuse, and to face the magnitude of it, but it’s also no accident that men in power abuse their power.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely

That’s always been my motivation for challenging capitalism. It’s always been personal. For me, it’s never been a shear theoretical enterprise, it’s always been about the vulnerable.

Challenging economic inequality is about those who are made vulnerable because of the basic reality that they have to make ends meet — they have to pay bills, and money is tight. It’s about those who literally cannot afford to challenge their boss, someone in power who has taken advantage of them.


Envisioning a future where there is greater economic equality has ever and always been about about the nature of power. Money is power, and so long as we wink at great economic gulfs between the rich and the poor, abuse will continue.

When it comes to gender, this is so obvious that it’s truly absurd, it’s beyond absurd, because women get paid 70-80% of what men get paid, for the exact same work. Bosses pay women less for one reason and one reason only: because they can get away with it.

The relationship between employer and employee involves an imbalance of power. Under capitalism, most of us sell our labour in order to pay for the things we need to stay alive. It should come as no surprise to anyone with even the vaguest understanding of human behaviour that some employers are prepared to exploit this unequal dynamic for sexual purposes. (from These kinds of bosses are everywhere)

I’m a socialist, yes, but this isn’t about abstract theoretical arguments. Whether you are a socialist or not, or whether you’ve never thought about capitalism or economics, it doesn’t matter. This is about acknowledging the fact that we live in a world where women are systemically set at an economic disadvantage, simply because of gender. Being economically vulnerable sets the stage for men to abuse their position of privilege.

Sexual abuse isn’t only about economics, I don’t mean to say that, and I don’t mean to imply that when we achieve greater economic equality that sexual abuse will disappear. All that I want to say, here, is that I stand in solidarity with women fighting for justice, and I want to share my hope and prayer: that I live to see a day when women, the world around, don’t have to ask the question of whether or not they can afford to speak against sexual abuse.

Published by

Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

Consider this post an invitation, an invitation to comment and collaborate ~ In Solidarity, JE

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