#Me Too- But . . .


The #metoo movement.  It’s everywhere these days.  And in some ways for good reason.  But I swear I can’t be the only one who has very mixed feelings about this whole phenomenon.  On the one hand I’m glad creeps like Harvey Weinstein are being exposed.  On the other hand, part of me is worried that this is turning into a witch hunt in which every woman who accuses a man of sexual impropriety is immediately believed & the man is immediately condemned with no evidence required whatsoever.  Now I understand that for many, many years it was quite the opposite but that doesn’t excuse throwing away all sense of logic & just believing every accusation we hear while dispensing with any sense of due process.me too.jpg

Also, I have not been raped so I cannot propose to suggest how a rape victim (male or female) “should” behave after such a horrifying event.  But what I can say is that, like most other women, I have experienced a certain amount of sexual harassment in my life.  Just for context I will explain a bit of what I’ve experienced & how I handled it.

When I was in college I worked at a restaurant where I had a manager who had a tendency to make sexualized remarks/jokes.  I was very uncomfortable around him, especially after a fellow server told me this manager had been making sexual remarks about me behind my back.  Later that night this man had the gall to make such a joke to my face.  I immediately responded by telling him he could not talk to me like that.  I told him “This is my job & I expect to be respected, especially by someone who is a manager.”   I walked out of that building terrified that he was going to find some reason to get me fired.  But you know what actually happened?  One of the other managers spoke to me about it (because he apparently reported to her than an “incident” had happened) & I explained how uncomfortable he had made me.  She told me she had spoken to him about the behavior & how it was unacceptable.  From that day forward I had zero problems with this guy.  He actually made an effort to be nice to me & I was actually disappointed when he left to go to another restaurant several months later.me too 2.png

Now I’m not excusing his initial behavior.  But I’m showcasing how my response shut it down immediately & how we were able to work past this incident to still work together.  I understand not every case is going to end like this.  But my point is that, especially as women, the behavior we tolerate is the behavior we’re going to get.  So if you don’t like how you’re being treated, SAY something, DO something!  Don’t just smile & nod & hope it gets better.tolerate quote

The other incident of sexual harassment I’d like to share was actually much more hideous.  A former employer of mine, whom I had greatly admired & trusted, started sending me texts asking for sex & offering to buy me liquor & meet me at a hotel.  Now this man was married & over twice my age!  I was horrified.  Absolutely horrified- perhaps even moreso because I knew his wife & mother.  It was a very precarious situation too because I had been hoping to receive a letter of recommendation from him.  But I also knew that I couldn’t mess around with this kind of thing.  There was no way in hell I was meeting him at a hotel.  So I immediately shut him down & told him what amounted to a big, fat “hell no.”  And then I erased his number from my phone.  As it turned out, a few months later I found out that this man actually had a history of questionable sexual behavior, & several years down the road I found out he had been formally accused of sexual harassment by another employee.

The point of all this is: yes, sexual harassment happens to most women, even when we are in no way asking for it.  And it SUCKS.  But a lot of times we have the power to stop it.  Or at least escape it.  I’m not excusing the behavior; it’s totally wrong.  But it is NOT the same thing as sexual assault or rape.  Yet what I’m starting to notice is that a lot of women are conflating sexual harassment with rape.  Or worse yet their own sexual regret with rape.aziz ansari

The case that particularly brings this to light is the case of Aziz Ansari.  If you’re not familiar with him, he’s a comedian who prides himself on being a feminist.  BUT he’s now being accused of sexual assault by a woman he took on a date a year ago.  The trouble is this: I’ve read through the woman’s statement on their encounter & while I find Ansari’s behavior revolting in many ways, what I’m reading in no way sounds like true sexual assault- certainly not rape.  There are so many instances where the accuser relates being uncomfortable, yet she admits that she did not speak up about how she was feeling.  For example, she was uncomfortable with how quickly Ansari wanted to leave the restaurant, yet she didn’t ask to stay longer & still willingly went back to his apartment.  The woman admits “Most of my discomfort was expressed in me pulling away and mumbling. I know that my hand stopped moving at some points.”  At no point does she relate that he was physically forcing her to engage in any sort of sex.  Nor does she state that she ever unequivocally said “no” or “stop” or anything of the sort.  Once again, I’m not saying Ansari shouldn’t have read her physical cues that she wasn’t interested.  He clearly should have.  But what I’m getting out of this story is that the woman didn’t have the strength to say no (for whatever reason) & is now trying to cry foul to make up for her own sexual regret.  Sexual regret ≠ rape!  It just doesn’t!  Am I crazy for thinking that?  Am I victim-blaming?  I honestly don’t think so but I’m sure I will be accused of it before long.  (Even the New York Times is standing up for Aziz Ansari, so that ought to tell you something about how stupid this situation is!)

no means no.jpg

No means no, but we do actually need to SAY it!

When it comes to the cases against Harvey Weinstein, some of them are pretty clearly rape.  But I still have to ask myself why any woman in her right mind would agree to hold a “business” meeting with a man she doesn’t know (or barely knows) in a hotel room.  And worse yet, when he answered the door in a bathrobe, I’m legitimately confused as to why these women didn’t just walk away.  I really don’t see how that wasn’t a huge red flag!  I cannot help but wonder if some of these women begrudgingly went along with sex with him because they thought it would help their careers.  I mean, these women cannot have been so naive as to not know that the term casting couch exists for a reason!  Again that does NOT make the concept ok.  But the fact of the matter is if a woman consents to sex in order to try to advance her career (or any other reason), that is NOT rape.  Is it unethical & gross?  Sure.  But it’s NOT rape.  Again, if Weinstein truly forced these women into it, then, yes, it was rape.  But the sad truth is if they aren’t reporting it until now there isn’t much that can be done about it.  Any physical evidence is long gone.regret does not equal rape

I can certainly understand why women don’t always report sexual assault & rape, particularly if the perpetrator is someone in power.  But the problem is that if women don’t report these crimes, the men are still out there, free to terrorize other women.  Plus, if we women don’t stand up for ourselves, who will?  Furthermore, if we wait 5, 10, or 20 years or more to call out the men who’ve abused us, how can we expect real justice?  It’s not like there is going to be any real evidence left at that point.  And as much as it sucks, rape is a serious charge & a man SHOULDN’T be sent to prison for such a crime if the only evidence against him is a woman’s word.  There is simply too much room for error with that.   (E.g. Duke lacrosse case, the erroneous Rolling Stones article about the rape at UVA, Jemma Beale, etc.)false rape claim

What it boils down to is this: I believe women are the intellectual equals of men.  We are obviously not physically equal in the sense that we ARE different & that the vast majority of men are physically stronger than women.  That’s just biology.  But when it comes to making our own decisions- having our own agency, so to speak- I believe women are every bit as capable & responsible as men.  We are 100% capable of saying what we want, how, & when.  And of walking away when a situation makes us uncomfortable.  If we choose to get drunk with someone, knowing we might agree to have sex with them while inebriated, even if we wouldn’t while sober, that’s our choice.  And we need to live with the consequences because we are adults & that’s what adults do.  Now if someone spikes our drink, that’s a whole other story, obviously . . . But if we agree to have sex with someone, for whatever reason, & then regret it later, that isn’t rape.  That’s just poor decision making, plain & simple.  choices

Thoughts?  Please share!  I’d love to hear from you.

On Sexual Harassment From Strangers


I decided to go to the gym this afternoon & on the way there I realized my gas tank was on E, so I stopped to fill it.  There I was, innocently pumping gas, when some nitwit comes up behind me & calls out to me.  Naturally I turned around thinking maybe the man needed directions or something.  Instead he proceeds to leer at me & say “Does your husband know how lucky he is?  If not, there’s a bunch of men who could get you.”  I was so completely taken by surprise that my only response was to flippantly say “Have a nice day” & walk (read: run) away.'BOY that REALLY makes my skin crawl when MEN undress you with their eyes!...'

I spent the next 5-10 minutes hyperventilating & driving a somewhat circuitous route to the gym just to ensure that I wasn’t being followed (thankfully I wasn’t).  When I parked at the gym, I sat in my car in tears wondering once again if I have a sign on my forehead, of which I’m blissfully unaware, which reads something along the lines of “I’m so innocent & trusting.  Please take advantage of me!”  But the fact of the matter is crap like this happens all the time to women all over the world.  My female friends who are reading this are surely nodding along in agreement because many, nay, most of them, have told me similar stories of creepy strangers who have made similar disturbing remarks to them.  And worse yet, some have even been physically assaulted.

When stories like this are told, many jump to asking “Well, what were you wearing?” as if that were somehow relevant.  Let me be the first to say that such information isn’t the least bit germane to the conversation at hand, considering Channing Tatum could be pumping gas in nothing but his boxers & 99.99% of women would never dream of coming up to him & asking “Does your wife know how lucky she is?  If not there are plenty of women who could get you.”  The point is no matter what a woman (or man) is wearing (or not wearing), no one has the right to treat her (or him) with disrespect.

And just in case anyone reading this feels like railing against the younger generation & saying we have no respect for anyone, let me be clear in stating that today’s creeper, along most every other man who’s ever harassed me in a similar fashion, was at least in his 40s, if not considerably older.respect 1

Let me also be clear in saying that I am not one of these women who thinks every man who says hello to them or touches them in any way is harassing them.  Indeed, I once got asked out at the gym, but I in no way found that intimidating or rude because it was done in a nice, respectful manner.  I’ll admit it made me a little uncomfortable but only because it reminded me that I am in fact not invisible at the gym as I usually wish I were.

Now that all of that is out of the way, let me move on with my narrative . . .enough is enough

This isn’t a treatise against men.  Indeed I’m incredibly thankful for the many wonderful men in my life, from my loving husband to my father, grandfather, & many other male friends & family members whom I feel blessed to know.  But I can’t let something like this happen to me without saying something.  I refuse to live my life thinking of every man as a potential rapist or harasser, & yet I know that men like the one I unfortunately encountered today take advantage of the fact that so many women like me operate under the assumption “innocent until proven guilty.”  (This is not to say I invite strange men into my house.  Indeed, I almost never open the door to solicitors when my husband isn’t home.  I just mean that I generally assume the best of people until shown otherwise.)  And sadly most women placed in situations like mine today react in much the same way I did: we’re too flabbergasted to come up with a response that sufficiently puts the creeper in his place.  While we should be telling them we’re not pieces of meat to be acquired, most of us are too stunned to say much of anything at all.

This is mostly a joke, but there's some truth in it too.

This is mostly a joke, but there’s some truth in it too.

I consider myself to be a fairly strong, independent woman.  I have a good career, financial stability (even without my husband’s salary), & a good head on my shoulders.  And yet situations like today make me acutely aware of just how vulnerable I really am.  Despite the fact that I work out quite a bit & am definitely stronger than the average woman, the simple truth is that even guys half my age could easily beat me up if they really wanted to.  It happens much more often than I like to admit that I get off a machine at the gym thinking how awesome it is that I was able to do 50 lbs or whatever when I used to only be able to do 20 lbs, only to watch some scrawny thirteen year old boy hop on the machine & pop out 75 or 100 lbs like it’s nothing.  It’s just biology, that’s all.men-vs-women1

If you’re a man who is reading this post, you’re probably already the type who is far too respectful to ever consider approaching a woman the way this man approached me today.  Yet I can’t help but ask that men consider what it’s like for us as women in a world in which we are clearly the more vulnerable half of the population.

Let me be clear: this is not a pity party I’m throwing.  I’m not asking for your sympathy.  Only for your empathy.  Situations like today make me realize how difficult it must be for all the good men in the world because the creepers of the world are giving your gender a bad name.  If I’m capable of being empathetic towards men even after being so unceremoniously harassed today, I think it’s not too much to ask that we raise our sons to respect women & treat us like the human beings we are.empathy

Here’s what I wish I’d had the presence of mind to say to the asshole who felt it necessary to intimidate me today:
“Yes, my husband knows exactly how lucky he is to be with me, just as I know how lucky I am to be with him.  Additionally, I am not some piece of meat or object to be acquired.  My husband did not “get” me.  I chose to be with him because I wanted to be with him just as much as he wanted to be with me.  On behalf of the other innocent women of the world whom I’m sure you’ve similarly disrespected, let me be clear in saying you’re a miserable, disgusting wanker who needs to get the hell out of my way . . . On that note, have a nice day!”

A Letter to My Fellow “Man”


Dear “Sirs,”

I walked into a pizza parlor today & immediately I felt your eyes upon me.  As I made my way to the counter to place my order I could feel your stares just as strongly as if they had been your all too grimy hands.  And just a few days ago I had a similar experience at another restaurant when I stopped in for breakfast on my way home from work.  That time you had me surrounded.  Two of you in front of me in line, two of you behind me.  Then you found your way to a table & I found your leering eyes upon me every time I looked up from my own table.  I left feeling dirty & used even though you never touched me or even spoke to me once.

These are just the two most recent episodes of such behavior that I’ve observed.  Sadly these things happen far too often & not just to me & not just in America, but in every tiny town & every major metropolis & every culture in every nation on this planet.  I think it’s safe to say that women all over the world will concur with me that such behavior is offensive, intimidating, & simply degrading.

'BOY that REALLY makes my skin crawl when MEN undress you with their eyes!...'

I’d find all this unwanted attention a bit less shocking if I were dressed in clothes that scream “Look at me!” but I never dress like that.  Miniskirts, booty shorts, & low-cut tops have never been my style.  While I firmly believe both men & women have the right to dress however they choose within context, there is no doubt that our attire does send certain messages about ourselves, whether we realize or want to admit it or not.  (When I say within context, I mean that wearing a bikini to work is clearly unacceptable, unless maybe you’re a model.)  This is not to say that leering at women who choose to dress in more “provocative” attire is acceptable, but at least it is a bit more logical.  In the end though, the burden of responsibility falls on the person who is committing the crime.  And in this case that burden falls squarely on the shoulders of you “men” who have probably never stopped to think twice about how your leering at every unfortunate female who crosses your path might make said female feel.

Maybe this situation wouldn’t be so distressing if I had some means of seeking revenge upon you.  If I could make you as uncomfortable as you make me with your leers & snarky smiles, I’d be happy to try to turn the tables on you & give you a taste of your own medicine, so to speak.  But sadly if I were to leer at you with even half the lust with which you leer at me, you’d probably just be flattered & text your equally sadistic buddies all about it.  Let me be clear in saying that I do not buy into the age-old argument that sex is inherently demeaning or degrading to women.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  But your eyes tell me quite plainly that you view me as nothing more than a sexual object who exists for your pleasure, & this too could be nothing further from the truth.  In reality I am a human being with dreams, hopes, goals, aspirations, & yes, even sexual needs & desires, just as you are.  But that last bit doesn’t justify your treating me as nothing more than a walking vagina with tits & an ass.  Trust me, we females enjoy checking you guys out too, but by & large we don’t view every man who walks by as a piece of meat to feast our eyes upon.  And even if we did, we could never threaten & intimidate you the way you can us because biology is pretty simple & we are as a whole not as physically strong as you are.

women not pieces of meat

I know you probably think you’re doing me some kind of favor by paying attention to me, but your twisted logic isn’t fooling anyone but yourself.  The only thing you’ve accomplished is making it very obvious that you’re so far below my taste in men as to not even be a blip on my radar (not that I’m looking since I’m married, but that’s beside the point in this scenario).  You’re probably not so self-aware as to realize this, but your leers are just a power-play, a way to make you feel stronger when deep down your sense of self is weaker than you’d like to admit.  Real men who are confident in themselves & their ability to win an intelligent well-rounded woman don’t need to stroke their ego by intimidating women with lustful stares & winks at their friends.

And just in case any of you guys happen to be smart asses, no, the answer to this predicament is not me staying at home or putting on a burka to go out in public.  The answer lies in you learning to have some self-control & self-respect which will then enable you to show respect to others.

End message: We’re all human beings here.  Yes, we all have sexual desires & needs but that’s no reason to be disrespectful.  Get over yourselves.  Get your own act together.  And get your dirty eyes off me.

Sincerely,

A woman with too much self-respect to put up with your BS any longer