Turning Sexual Predators Into Patriots: Pedophiles, Purity Culture, and the Patriarchy
Scrolling through Facebook and this meme came across my thread.
Shivers ran through my body. I angrily responded, “Says the man who never served and threatened to shoot the last presidential candidate and the last President. If that is what you consider a patriot, you might want to revisit its definition. 😉” (1)
My next thoughts were of the summer of 1986 when I met Ted Nugent. He was performing at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. My boyfriend/future husband was working the event, so going backstage was a regular occurrence. A smile and a “please” for the security guard at the gate were usually enough to get me backstage and if it wasn’t, my boyfriend would come and give permission for my entry. I met dozens of artists during those summer concerts at the Fairgrounds.
But meeting Ted was different. Everything seemed normal until I stepped through the doorway of his dressing room. Across the room was a nearly naked woman laying on a built-in bench and he was snorting lines of cocaine off her stomach. As he raised his head to inhale the coke, he noticed me. His fellow band member handed him a drink and Ted sauntered over to me. As he approached, he rolled his shoulders in a drunken attempt at seduction and said, “Well aren’t you a tall drink of water?” I had no idea what he meant so I smiled as to not appear dumb.
I was 16, but didn’t look like your typical 16-year-old. I was nearly six-feet tall, but even at my height, he towered over me. He wasn’t just taller, but much older; he was nearly 38.
I kept looking beyond him at the woman in the background as I tried to understand what was going on. Noticing my distraction, he looked back over his shoulder at her and then back at me. He gave me a drunkenly suggestive smile and said, “you’re next!” He winked and leaned in as if he were trying to kiss me.
I demurred and said, “Oh, no thanks, but can I get your autograph?” I handed him a pen and offered my ticket stub. He took the pen but pushed away the stub and began cupping my breasts. I stepped back but was immediately halted by two exceptionally large bodyguards. Nugent stepped forward to bridge the distance I had gained and said, “This is where I’ll sign” as he fondled my breast. He had chosen the sticker on my chest which was my backstage pass.
He whispered, as he slowly signed my pass, telling me how much “fun” he could have with me and how he’d “teach” me a few things. I was sandwiched between him and his bodyguards, so I just smiled. The girl on the bench sat up and started to put her shirt back on.
Just as my mind began to race, realizing I might be in a bad situation, I heard my boyfriend call my name. “Sher! Hey!” I shouted back, “In here Babe!” Nugent backed off, and the brick wall of bodies behind me began to soften. My boyfriend firmly grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the dressing room. We laughed at the shit show he just dragged me out of, and we proceeded about our night.
I joked, I may have dodged a bullet, but I GOT HIS AUTOGRAPH!
As these memories came flooding back after seeing the meme, I shared the pertinent details on Facebook. My loving friends jumped in for support and comfort, but I felt like their concern was not needed. When I saw the meme, I shuddered not because the incident was traumatic, but because I was disgusted. The memory grossed me out. I didn’t share the story to open or expose any wounds, so my initial thoughts were to dismiss their concern.
Which then sent me into a rabbit hole, thinking, how I could so easily dismiss a 37-year-old man, high on coke and booze, groping and propositioning me at 16?
When the #metoo movement started, it forced me to think of and examine all the times I had been sexually assaulted. Sadly, this event didn’t even make the list. Why didn’t it make the list? I sat there puzzled. Why didn’t I feel trauma from it?
Or did I?
In pondering the 16-year-old me and this event, I remembered several things.
At the time, my boyfriend and I were heavily indoctrinated evangelicals. Both raised on the purity culture and the patriarchy. As a girl, being “chosen” were goals my entire faith was founded on.
Being chosen by God — being worthy of HIS love.
To be one of the selected few whose name would be written in the Book of Life.
To be chosen by a man who would lead and guide me and our children.
My body was not my own, but a gift to a man from God.
I could never touch my body, but they could.
So, when a Rockstar — an older, worldly, famous man — appeared to “choose” me, to want me, it made me feel special. I still have the autographed pass (it’s in storage, but when I can dig it out, I’ll update this post). For many years I told this story with a sense of pride. Both that Nugent wanted me and that my boyfriend saved me.
But as I grew up, I became less indoctrinated. I started questioning the Purity culture and the Patriarchy. I learned that I didn’t have to let men have their way with me, just because they liked me, or had power over me. It wasn’t until my 30’s that I was finally affirmed that saying “no” wouldn’t doom me to hell. Having body autonomy was something I never even considered. I was just a woman, made for man.
So, when Nugent took control and groped me, it was because he could. He was staking his claim. And when my boyfriend announced his claim over me, “guy code” broke Ted’s claim. A man’s voice is always more valued than a woman’s. This is proven every time a man’s advances are only stopped because the woman tells him that she has a boyfriend.
And, my future husband wasn’t protecting me, but his possession. My safety wasn’t his concern, his competition was. I say this with certainty because after we were married, he often said I was “his” and he could demand and take whatever he wanted, as ordained by God. I must submit. My body was not mine, but God gave it to him. It’s the way we were raised. Neither of us knew differently.
In working my way through all this for this article, I also realized and deconstructed the habitual self-talk of blaming myself. I thought that maybe I should add disclaimers about how I might have caused this. But I was… Maybe I shouldn’t have…
Because victim blaming is also part of the protocol of the patriarchy and purity culture.
But when you break it down to its simplest form, without justifications and excuses, Ted Nugent sexually assaulted me, while I was forced into submission by his security guards. He was 37, I was 16.
But the church taught me that was normal behavior. (2) (3)
I should have kneed him in his groin, but a good “Christian” girl would never act in such a disrespectful manner towards a man.
Ted Nugent, being portrayed as a patriot and good guy shows how far the culture of the Right has fallen. They have elevated him beyond a Rockstar, which already entitled him to behave this way.
My story is not earth-shattering information. His song “Jailbait” is about sex with a 13-year-old girl, and other girls have come forward. He even bragged about it in 1998 on VH-1’s Behind the Music.
He is a piece of shit, but more importantly, so is the system that enables and condones his behavior — the patriarchy, the purity culture, and using “God” to support this domination.
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So, no, the assault by Nugent is not where my trauma is — my trauma is in everything that enabled it, justifies it, and continues to perpetuate it.
He’s just another disgusting Republican pedophile, but the Evangelicals line up their prey. (4) (5) (6)
“I’m so weird I actually believe that God gave me my individual rights and that the Founding Fathers just wrote them down so kings and emperors and punks wouldn’t try to take those rights away, even though kings and tyrants and emperors have tried diligently over the last few administrations.
“Be that as it may… I’m so uninhibited and I’m so blood and guts, God, family, country, constitution, Bill of Rights, 10 commandments… I dedicate myself to be an asset to my family, my neighborhood, my fellow man, the good Mother Earth, and all things creation.” ~ Ted Nugent, 2018 (7)
1. Goodman, Elizabeth. Ted Nugent Threatens to Kill Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton During Vicious Onstage Rant . Rolling Stone. [Online] August 24, 2007. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/ted-nugent-threatens-to-kill-barack-obama-and-hillary-clinton-during-vicious-onstage-rant-94687/amp/.
2. James, Brendan. HUCKABEE DENIES PLAYING FILTHY TED NUGENT SONG ON HIS SHOW…….BUT WAIT, THERE’S VIDEO. Talking Points Memo. [Online] January 22, 2015. https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/politicalconundrum/huckabee-denies-playing-filthy-ted-nugent-song-on--t19418929.html.
3. Nazworth, Napp. Interview: Mike Huckabee on Evangelicals Who Divorce, Beyoncé and Ted Nugent (Part 1). The Christian Post. [Online] January 21, 2015. https://www.christianpost.com/amp/interview-mike-huckabee-on-evangelicals-who-divorce-beyonce-and-ted-nugent-part-1.html.
4. Vetwife. Trump and Republicans and their pals who are Pedophiles and Sexual Abusers. Daily Kos. [Online] July 19, 2019. https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/7/19/1872955/-Trump-and-Republicans-and-their-pals-who-are-Pedophiles-and-Sexual-Abusers.
5. Hamilton, Marci A. Why Are Republicans Enabling Child Sex Abusers? Newsweek. [Online] January 6, 2017. https://www.newsweek.com/why-are-republicans-enabling-child-sex-abusers-539059.
6. Smith, Gregory A. Among white evangelicals, regular churchgoers are the most supportive of Trump. Pew Research. [Online] April 26, 2017. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/26/among-white-evangelicals-regular-churchgoers-are-the-most-supportive-of-trump/.
7. jomatami. Ted Nugent Reacts to Accusations of Racism, Homophobia & Pedophilia: My Enemies Are Braindead. No Wonder Michael Moore Represents Them. Ulitmate Guitar.com. [Online] December 18, 2018. https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/news/general_music_news/ted_nugent_reacts_to_accusations_of_racism_homophobia__pedophilia_my_enemies_are_braindead_no_wonder_michael_moore_represents_them.html