Scott Brown reveals history of sexual and emotional abuse on 60 minutes.

Scott Brown, the Republican Senator that garnered tremendous attention after he won the seat of the deceased Ted Kennedy as Senator in Massachusetts, has a memoir coming out. He will be on 60 Minutes this Sunday promoting the book. In the preview for the 60 Minutes special, Brown reveals that he was emotionally abused as a child by his mother’s many husbands and then sexually abused by a camp counselor.

The interview not only details some of the circumstances of his assualt, but this is also the first time his wife and mother are hearing about it. Via the Daily News,

He said he never told anyone out of shame and fear, and even his mother and wife would be hearing about the molestation for the first time.

“He said ‘If you tell anybody, I’ll kill ya. I will make sure that nobody believes you,’” Brown told Leslie Stahl in the interview which airs Sunday. CBS released an excerpt in advance.

“That’s what happens when you’re a victim. You’re embarrassed. You’re hurt.”

“When people find people like me at that young vulnerable age, who are basically lost, the thing that they have over you is, they make you believe that no one will believe you.”

Brown described being touched, and being forced to touch the counselor.

“Fortunately, nothing was ever fully consummated, so to speak, but it was certainly, back then, very traumatic,” he said.

Brown also described being beaten by his stepfather and says he once thought about buying his childhood home in Wakefield, Mass. – so he could burn it down.

Kudos to Scott Brown for sharing a personal story of sexual assault, that in and of itself, helps other survivors come out, especially men that are often not given the cultural space to talk about sexual assault. It is common for politicians that are running for office to put out memoirs and to give us compelling stories that will urge us to vote for them, right before they are about to run for major office. At the moment Scott Brown doesn’t have any serious opponents in Massachusetts, but I have to wonder how this story will impact his political future. And I have to wonder, would this be as big a deal if a female politician were to reveal similar information or is this story going to get him extra political lasting power because he is a man? Or will it hurt him more because he is not what the public considers a typical victim?

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4 Comments

  1. Posted February 17, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Maybe this is cynical, but I would predict that, because he is a man, this story is going to be much more harmful to his lasting political power than helpful. In a patriarchal society, this sort of revelation from a man is often taken as a sign of weakness, and weakness as a sign that one is unfit to be a leader.

    Since our society usually only focuses on sexual abuse directed at women and not at men, I think the nasty thought will be out there that this makes Brown unusual and in some horrible way ‘a loser’. Probably part of this is the harsh opprobrium directed at men who are in roles that are usually conceived of as female, which in turn comes from the devaluation of femininity.

  2. Posted February 17, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I think it will be taken different ways by different people. Speaking as a man, many men will find the revelation uncomfortable, because it violates the male code of never admitting weakness or vulnerability. Most of the responses will be a kind of uncomfortable silence, though, not a shaming response.

    If, as an adult, he was abused, then you might very well see evidence of shaming or questioning of masculinity. Then the charge might be that a man in that situation wasn’t tough enough or brave enough to protect himself.

    But this happened in childhood, instead, and even male code makes exceptions for children. There’s a certain aspect of patriarchy that is geared to protect the safety of children, regardless of sex. It is overzealous about it, as we know, but it does have a somewhat noble aspect, to some extent. You might see a few immature souls who will question Brown’s masculinity, but those will be in the minority. As as I said, men will either not know how to respond, or will keep quiet.

    And, politics aside, I applaud for his courage. Since I, too, am a childhood sexual abuse survivor, I hope this encourages more to do the same thing. As many men as there are who will ignore it, there are others for which revelations like these will actively empower.

  3. Posted February 17, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I hope Sam is wrong, but it’s certainly a possibility.

    I have a great deal more respect for Brown after hearing him discuss this issue. Obviously, I don’t agree with him on everything, but (as a human being) I can honestly say that I have more respect for him now than I did before. It takes a lot of strength to discuss an issue like this, and I hope that people come to understand that. I am trying to set my cynicism aside, though (for reasons previously stated) being cynical is definitely appropriate.

  4. Posted February 17, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I am somewhat more optimistic in thinking that that these revelations will not terribly affect his career, although there is a caveat. I think whenever runs for office at his level and his stiffest competition arises in the general election, he will more or less be judged on performance, his politics, and the other factors (some of them not all that relevant to the job) that politicians are judged by. He may gain a little for adding to his life story and/or lose a little for showing vulnerability, but I think when it comes to running against a Democrat, this story will have a minor net effect.

    The place where things could get the most hairy is if he runs for the Republican Presidential nomination. That sort of race is where “macho intangibles” probably matter more than in any other relevant political campaign (where it would most likely hurt him) — the candidates are not easily differentiated by policy as in a general election, and news media picks apart personal lives much more at the Presidential level.

    That’s my gut feeling, anyway.

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