The Snuffleupagus Solution

I grew up watching Sesame Street. I was born the year after it went on the air, and it (along with Mr. Rogers Neighborhood) was a mainstay of my childhood.

In those early years, Big Bird was the only person who could see his friend Mr. Snuffleupagus. It wasn’t so much that Snuffy was invisible, but he and Big Bird’s friends always seem to have missed connections. Big Bird (who is eternally 5-years-old) would have these great stories to tell about his behemoth friend, but no one believed him. They thought he was making the whole thing up.

Then in the mid-80s, the writers and producers of Sesame Street realized how important it was for kids to know that when they told adults something that had happened to them, the adults would believe them and know the kids weren’t making it up. Here’s a clip from Mr. Snuffleupagus’s big reveal.

And just like kids need to know that they will be believed, women need to know it, too. If you’ve been paying attention at all over the last week or two, then you have discovered that women you know and love are telling stories that they have never shared before–out of shame, out of fear they wouldn’t be believed and out of concerns over the ramifications of coming forward.

Now is the time to publicly express our support of women who bravely come forward with stories of sexual assault and state definitively that we believe them. Women who have been assaulted need to know that they will be believed, and men need to know that if they commit such acts, women will no longer keep silent.

I will not entertain the concerns of men who are worried that conservative white males are under attack, and that anyone of them could be taken down at anytime by some woman making up a story of harassment or assault. I can’t take these concerns seriously because:

a) Rarely is a man taken down by just one accusation. Predatory males are not one time offenders. When one story comes out, other victims are emboldened to tell their stories. If it is truly a false accusation, there aren’t likely to be corroborating witnesses or similar narratives.

b)The FBI cites that about 2 % of rape and sexual assault charges turn out to be false. One the flip side, the chart below shows the odds of a woman’s attacker actually being prosecuted or punished.

If you are one to play the odds, they come down overwhelmingly on the side of believing the woman.

I learned a lot from Sesame Street–about my ABCs, how to treat my neighbors, the importance of community and how important it is to believe people when they trust you enough to share their stories.


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