Why Larry Nassar Infuriates Me

By: Shabrina ParikhVia NBC

After seeing Larry Nassar’s name on my Twitter feed over the past few weeks, I decided to finally look up who he was. Let’s just say that I was horrified. For those who are not aware, Nassar was a well known and respected Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics team doctor. He was extremely trusted and that familiarity is what allowed him to abuse his power. He was charged with child pornography and sexually assaulting over 170 team members. He inappropriately touched these young girls, mainly minors, during regular check ups, on the road to tournaments, in hotel rooms, etc. I realize that sexual assault is unfortunately common in the professional field, but the fact that such an esteemed individual could stoop so low makes me shiver. Luckily, after a grueling trial in which the victims were forced to revisit the horror, Judge Aquilina has graciously given him enough time to think about his actions: 40-175 years in prison.

Related: 5 Reasons Judge Rosemarie Aquilina is a #GirlBoss

This man capitalized on his patients’ trust and abused his position of power for his own satisfaction. He constructed a facade of comfort and safety before he went ahead and disrespected their bodies. And yet, his employers swept it under the rug like nothing ever happened. What concerns me most is that this could have been stopped. The complaints started flooding in during 1997, which was 20 years ago. Allegations were brushed off until 2016, when Rachael Denhollander filed a criminal complaint. It seems that these allegations were not taken seriously due to the determined drive by MSU and USA Gymnastics to shield the monstrous doctor which protected and enabled him to continue his practice through two decades of accusations. An investigation by the Indy Star was conducted during Nassar’s trial. It exposed USA Gymnastics of downplaying complaints about sexual abuse in the sport. Why? Because they did not want to risk losing their sponsors and staining their name. So, obviously the better option was to compromise their athletes virtue, innocence and sense of safety instead. They literally made it okay for a 54 year old man to sexually assault teenage girls for the sake of a brand. Bravo, USA Gymnastics.Via CNN

What these authorities did not take into consideration was that by dismissing these girls’ claims in order to save their own asses, they were normalizing molestation. They made these young women feel as if their trauma was an overreaction, and as if they should feel guilty for ever questioning the actions of someone who was so respected and trusted. However, this mentality is not limited to just the authorities, it extends to the athletes, too.  

Jennifer Rood-Bedford, a survivor, stated, "My first reaction was to question myself. To blame myself. You made me uncomfortable, and I thought you were weird. But I felt guilty because you were a doctor, so I assumed I was the problem for thinking badly of you."

After going through an experience like this, the lines are blurred for these girls between what is sexual assault and what is not. He was able to do what he wanted because their power dynamic allowed him to. Some of the younger girls didn't even know that what he was doing was molestation. Consequently, if they were in a similar situation again, they may unfortunately not understand the seriousness of it. The authorities truly did not consider the impact their denial had on these women. Luckily, the case had an effect Nassar never intended. It has made them stronger. It has empowered them. As survivor Amanda Thomashow put it, “Larry, the thing you didn't realize while you were sexually assaulting me and all of these young girls is that you were also building an army of survivors.”

Related: Women Speaking Out Against Larry Nassar

Nassar said that the victims’ statements were “emotionally difficult to listen to.” Listen Larry, if you kept your hands to yourself, and your sense of entitlement in check, perhaps this would not have been this “emotionally difficult” for you. He chose his perverted satisfaction at the expense of others’ lives and emotions. And now, he has the nerve to say it was difficult for him? What he can do is hop off his high horse while trying to tug at our heartstrings when he had the audacity to violate women’s bodies as if it was a damn hobby. Just saying.