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Dear Media: Sexual Assault and Womanizing Are Not the Same Thing

The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary defines Womanize as “to pursue or court women habitually.” A Womanizer is defined as “a philanderer.”

The media might do well to revisit their dictionaries, or at least their Britney Spears lyrics, cause there seems to be a trend among reporters to characterize Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s long history* of alleged sexual harassment and molestation of unwilling victims as mere “womanizing.” The Associated Press did it. Ditto for Pulitzer-Prize winning author Charlie LeDuff. Even Paul Whitefield of the LA Times, the paper that brought the molestation allegations to light, is guilty of it.

Journalists, who make their living off language, ought to understand the difference between the two behaviors. One involves a consensual relationship. The other is a crime involving force. To refer to Schwarzenegger’s groping as “womanizing” is to make light of sexual crimes against women.

And, fer crissakes, it’s inaccurate. Come on, wordsmiths. You know better.

 
* For anyone who isn’t sure what we’re talking about: In 2003, the LA Times broke the story of Schwarzenegger’s long history of sexually assaulting women. Multiple women came forward to share their stories of being forcefully molested by Schwarzenegger.

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