You’ve probably noticed a lot of women have tweeted and written as their Facebook status “Me too”, a collective awareness campaign to show people how common it is to be the victim of sexual assault or harassment. Sparked by the Harvey Weinstein allegations by too many women to count now, the national conversation on what constitutes sexual harassment, assault, and how to prevent it all has had famous people and the rest of us speaking out on everything from how women dress (so tired, that one) to the so-called Billy Graham Rule.
To those who don’t know, Christian Evangelicals (and some other religions) preach unmarried men and women should never be in a room alone together, no matter if you’re work colleagues or doctor and patient. This was made more known when Mike Pence made reference to following this rule, and once again it’s creeped into a discussion on whether or not it’s a reasonable stance to take in opposite sex relations. I think it’s one thing for a male doctor to take precautions against false claims by having a female nurse in the room with him and his patients, it’s another for everyone to live their entire life trying to avoid looking unfaithful to others or being “tempted”; the Billy Graham rule sees men as inherently wild animals who can’t control themselves, as if the inclination to assault is the norm. The rule insults good, thinking men.
Not to mention, segregation (by sex or race) doesn’t do anything to foster a progressive, healthy, peaceful society. It is no coincidence the cultures most segregated by sex are the least peaceful. How can men and women learn to understand each other, learn from each other, and respect each other if a culture maintains an in-group bias by gender, and females are continually viewed as either potential sexual objects or chaste mother figures? Women can’t be equal if what prevents them from getting promoted at work is the knowledge that the new VP would need to work closely side-by-side with the male president.
Some figures are asserting Harvey Weinstein could have avoided the mess he’s in right now if he’d followed the Billy Graham Rule. That’s nonsense; it implies that the women are lying or that he didn’t really want to abuse his power this way, he simply found himself tempted by these Jezebels and gave in because he’s a man, after all. Bullshit. Just fucking bullshit.
I can’t join the thousands of women who are sharing their stories of sexual harassment or assault by writing “Me too”. I’ve never been raped, sexually abused, or assaulted. I have, however, experienced very mild forms of harassment that belong in such a gray area as to have been so benign that to include them would be an insult to women who’ve suffered the real deal. Plus, I also think sharing those benign experiences would only serve to lessen the impact of the overall message.
Some are focusing this conversation on Hollywood’s notoriously misogynistic culture that has covered up for men like Harvey Weinstein, a studio executive who co-founded Miramax, since the beginning. I’m not, it’s a culture that permeates all industries because it’s our society that raises these boys to become men who abuse their power and don’t know the difference between normal flirtation and sexual harassment (or don’t care). If we maintain a focus on Hollywood, it only serves to send the message to the rest of America that a permissive attitude toward sexual harassment is something that mostly affects the entertainment industry, “over there, far way from us”.
These men aren’t “sex addicts” (which is considered a non-thing by most experts), they’re narcissists or men who’ve developed maladaptive ways of handling female rejection (please don’t mistake that for me implying they deserve pity). I think “I’m a sex addict” has become the go-to bullshit excuse in an attempt to garner sympathy and distance one’s self from responsibility.
I hope this national discussion enlightens those who might be unaware of how their behavior can be perceived and gives a voice to those who’ve been victimized.
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