We were all a bit shocked yesterday when Extra host Maria Menounos said she'd been sexually abused by at least one doctor and inappropriately touched by a second. Menounos dropped this bomb on Howard Stern’s Sirius show. But she (and her blabby long-term boyfriend) dropped a few bombs that day, as is requisite around Howard Stern. No doubt the raucous, jokey, sex-talk-filled atmosphere in which Menounos chose to share her story of abuse helped cast doubt on it. But that isn’t the only reason I believe she got so much negative reaction.
I noticed many of the comments about Maria -- here on the boards as well as elsewhere -- had to do with her looks. The basic gist is, "Oh, she thinks she’s so hot that even doctors are going to hit on her." From what I could tell, most, if not all, of these comments were made by women. We’ve ruthlessly made fun of British writer Samantha Brick for saying that women hate her because of her looks, and here women are doubting a woman's story of abuse because of her looks.
Let’s be real: Even if Maria were obese, with little in the way of teeth, many would still have cast a suspicious eye on her story. We say we do not see sexual abuse as about attractiveness, and yet many would wonder, "Who would molest HER?!" Just like we said of Samantha Brick, "Who would be jealous of HER?!"
No one says of a man who has been punched in face, "Who would punch you? You're too ugly." Or, "I bet you wanted to get punched. Look at how you dress." And yet ...
If you are a woman who is going to share your story of sexual abuse, other women will decree that you should neatly fit into one type of aesthetic: If you are pretty, it should be in a non-threatening, motherly, pearl-wearing, "classy" way -- in fact, you should look just about like Katie Couric. Though even with Katie, there would be those who would say, "She's over the hill. She's just trying to seem young and attractive again." As if sexual abuse is only for the young and pretty. Elderly women are routinely raped.
Do I think that Maria would have been better off telling a therapist about these incidents and not Howard Stern? Or that she do so in a more "serious" way? Sure. But maybe this was the only way she could bring herself to say it. Maybe the jokey atmosphere took some of the horror out of it.
You will all now say your reactions have nothing to do with the way Maria looks. But I can READ what you are saying. And if she were testifying before a grand jury in a suit and pearls, with her hair in a bun, her face and body more "average," I still think you’d say the same.
Do you think Maria's looks made people suspicious of her story?
Image via Getty