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The Schmooze

Aly Raisman Says Banning Leotards Won’t Stop Sex Abuse

Back-to-back Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman’s tumbling passes are nearly unparalleled. Her winning floor routine begins with a roundoff one-and-a-half step out into a roundoff back handspring followed by an Arabian double front, finishing in a punch layout.

Not to be outdone, critics of Raisman’s historic justice work have contorted themselves into backflips and handsprings to try to suggest that athletes can prevent their own sexual assault by ceasing to wear leotards. And Raisman is taking down their rhetoric with a punch layout.

Raisman, who has become the most prominent voice in the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal, in which the Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar was accused of sexually abusing over 250 young gymnasts, refuted the claim on social media on Sunday.

“I was recently asked if gymnasts should continue wearing leotards,” she tweeted. “Leotards r not the problem. The problem is the many pedophiles out there & the adults who enable them. By saying clothing is part of the issue, u are victim shaming/implying survivors should feel it’s their fault.” That is an awfully kind way for an outspoken survivor of sexual abuse to explain to adult humans that sexual abuse isn’t caused by fabric tightness.

Raisman recently gave a victim impact statement at Nassar’s trial, where he was convicted of sexual abuse and sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. She has emerged as a vocal advocate for young women, athletes, and survivors of sexual abuse. In an additional tweet she urged readers who are not familiar with the concept of “victim blaming” to become more educated by looking into the campaign Flip the Switch, which Raisman started to send adults involved in athletics to training programs that help them learn to recognize signs of sexual abuse and protect children.

And as she does this vital work, she wears whatever she wants.

Jenny Singer is a writer for the Forward. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

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