Dear Sexual Harassers: It’s Not All About You
Your average office job these days is sure to come with a competitive salary, 28 paid days’ holiday, and consistent comments from your creepy boss. That’s just the norm, isn’t it?
Or screw that – it can apply to any environment. We’re not just talking about the CEOs in suits, who feel their sense of superiority means they can grope your ass as you walk past. We’re talking about some single mum working evenings in a bar, who gets treated the same. We’re talking about a part-time student, who feels too intimidated to turn down a drink from their boss. Sexual harassment can happen anywhere. The difference now, however, is it’s becoming less tolerated.
We saw the #MeToo movement blow up last year, as people shared their sexual harassment experiences online. From Harvey Weinstein to Kevin Spacey, the exposure of A-list celebs made everyday people feel more comfortable opening up too. People started putting their foot down. That’s one side of it, anyway.
While many of us see this as the start of something good, others are joking about the whole thing. Even President Trump has mocked the #MeToo movement, telling politician Elizabeth Warren that he’d love to test her DNA for Native American heritage, 'but we would have to do it gently because we’re in the MeToo generation.'
Rather than changing their inappropriate language and seeing it from the victim’s point of view, there are a handful of people who are not only continuing with their harassment, but using it as a mocking opportunity. You can’t say that anymore, Frank. Wouldn’t want the feminists coming after you! Watch out for the ‘sexual harassment’ police.
In an age of political correctness, there are some people focussing their energy on whinging about what they can and can’t say, rather than actually recognising the problem. I don’t care if you’re a touchy-feely person – you’re making them feel uncomfortable. I don’t care if you don’t see anything wrong with calling your colleagues bitches – my priority isn’t your opinion. You can’t decide for somebody else what they do or do not appreciate you calling them, or treating them like. If you aren’t willing to respect somebody else’s feelings, that makes you the problem. Your ego is not what needs protecting here.
This is a typical case of the tables turning. What do I mean by that? Well, the people in the wrong are trying to play the victims. The people harassing their colleagues, friends, and whoever else, are the ones claiming their poor feelings are being hurt. I’m not allowed to be myself! It was only a joke. Well, if your natural state is to be an asshole, then yes, you have got to change.
Let me give you an example. I’m sorry to drag you down, Henry Cavill – you may be Superman – but you still need to be put in your place. Besides, you dug your hole yourself, when you said on your own accord that you’re too scared to flirt with women in case you get called a 'rapist'.
Last month, in an interview with GQ Australia, Cavill explained that approaching women is 'very difficult to do that if there are certain rules in place. Because then it’s like: "Well, I don’t want to go up and talk to her, because I’m going to be called a rapist or something". So you’re like, "Forget it, I’m going to call an ex-girlfriend instead, and then just go back to a relationship, which never really worked". But it’s way safer than casting myself into the fires of hell, because I’m someone in the public eye, and if I go and flirt with someone, then who knows what’s going to happen?'
His worry is not that he’d be branded as a rapist for doing something logical like… well, raping somebody. His worry comes from the risk move of talking to a woman? And as for going back to an ex-girlfriend, rather than talking to new women: Henry, dear, you cannot blame your poor choice to return to an ended relationship on people bravely speaking out about sexual harassment. The two scenarios are only linked because you’re making them.
As said perfectly by Twitter user Helen Price, 'Stop trying to derail the conversation by claiming #MeToo wants to “stop men ever talking to women” or some bullshit. If you don’t know the difference between politely asking someone out and sexually harassing them, you have a serious problem. If you’re approaching women in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe, then YOU need to change your behaviour, instead of whining about how some men are now facing consequences for serial harassment and assault.'
This is just one case of people reacting absurdly to the current shifts in our society. We should be supporting changes for the better — even if they aren’t aimed at us — rather than trying to work out how we can spin them onto ourselves. You may think you ‘have it hard’, but this sort of behaviour only feeds back into rape culture. It disrespects and takes away the faith of the real victims, who are finally beginning to speak out about their experiences. Maybe it’s not all about you, and you should feel grateful about that.