Let me preface this article by saying that, categorically, I am opposed to unwanted sexual advances anywhere; and, having dwelt on this mortal coil twice the average amount of time as our average reader, I can tell you that I’ve seen more than my share of it. That and intimidation, bullying, rejection retaliation, coercion, and/or oppression of many kinds. These, as you will have noted, have become, of late, touchy and timely subjects whose focus has been brought to the forefront of our collective attention.
More and more people (mostly men) are finding their asses in a sling as allegations of misconduct are voiced by people (women and men) who are ready to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (#MeToo!) rather than (not) take arms against this sea of troubles.” In the words of Rooster Sedaris, “Mother F**kers be catchin’ sh*t for f**kin’ with folks!”
No one should have to be exposed to unwanted advances, sexual coercion, or intimidation because of their vulnerability in life’s great dog-eat-dog circus. It is right and correct to be able to defend one’s dignity and honor against any who would use position or circumstance to take advantage, and wrong for anyone witnessing this type of behavior to stand by and allow it to happen.
Men have played power “grab-ass” and—for about as long—women have used their sexuality to get ahead in life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, and workplace perks. And, if you have not seen this in your short and sweet existence, then you certainly are living in a different universe than I am. Men (and women) use their good looks, sexuality, and charisma to get ahead in life, and beauty usually trumps brains in most arenas. That’s just the way it is. If it aint right, “it be’s that way.”
There used to be an image that was widely accepted of a caveman who sees a cavewoman; he’s attracted to her, so he hits her over the head with his club and drags her by the hair into his cave, and that’s called primitive courtship from our primitive past. Women have been educated to reject this type of romance, but some men are a little slower to catch on.
Where do you draw the line? Should men ignore women’s sexuality—their style of dress and demeanor that awakens pheromones in all but the blind, deaf, and dumb? Should women ignore other women? Should men ignore other men to whom they are sexually attracted? Will romance fizzle and die because now “he kissed her without her permission” is a punishable offense?
Breaking through the accepted glass ceiling of your gender’s role in the social order to a place without boundaries comes at a cost; it means that you’re going against the grain of society.
When in your sweet young life have you ever “asked permission” for that first kiss, and when that kiss is coming from an unwanted source, when is not a sound rejection more than appropriate (and heeded)? When to start, where to stop, how to know—can/should it be that complicated? Like it or not, it is, and it’s going to take a boatload of re-education to set things straight. To get the right answer, we first have to know the right question.
Boys and girls had traditionally been brought up differently; boys “scuffed up” and girls “dressed up.” Boys had hardhat jobs; they waged war, played football, and fixed cars. Girls became nurses, ballerinas, grammar school teachers, and fashion models. Fathers and mothers. To go against that grain was to have one’s sexual identity put into question. Not anymore. In just the last 20 years, the images of sexual identities have upended the prevailing dynamic—in sports, business, politics, and education, aiming high at equality in all things. Breaking through the accepted glass ceiling of your gender’s role in the social order to a place without boundaries comes at a cost; it means that you’re going against the grain of society. We have seen in our society that change only comes with struggle, with disruption and eruption: “I am my own person, DON’T F**K WITH ME!”
By my estimation, every woman has experienced inequality and abuse in some form or fashion; most men (whether they will admit it or not) have also. It’s been called part of the realities of life. Bullsh*t is what it is—it’s a cowardly pushing around of those not in a position to defend themselves; it’s generally (while not exclusively) a male thing. Women have to take responsibility for some of this also. Women have bought into, accepted, and allowed themselves to be seen as “the weaker sex,” malleable to men’s wills. Media has profited from this. The reality of the situation is that until another way of thinking and behaving is taught, this will go on. For every celebrity who has been brought before the public eye, there are hundreds more who are guilty of abuse and are immune from being brought to task, simply because there will be nothing gained by telling the foreman on the worksite that the guy with the jackhammer whistled at you in your tight pants or asked if fries came with that shake. Truth be told, that kind of innocent attention is tolerable if not almost likeable. It’s the molesters that insult our senses of decency and decorum, not the jerks. “Construction sites are good for morale.”—Blanche Devereaux.
Fact is this: predators are made, not born. Persons with no direction or role models will form their own rules of conduct that don’t include remorse; that behavior will be only for their own benefit and pleasure. Predator role models breed predators.
Until you stop the cycle, it will continue. No safe society. No safe family. No safe children. No safe world. No safe anything.