While Harvey Weinstein is on the hot spot right now and the media is eyeing at him because a lot of women are coming forward with allegations of inappropriate behavior and possibly sexual assault, let’s not forget that this, unfortunately, is not an unusual occurrence.
Based on what people (of both sexes) have experienced, including me and many of my friends, I would say that there are similar men everywhere—in the streets, quite a few in every bar, in every work place, and tragically there will be one in many of our homes.
Many young girls and women (if not the majority) throughout their lives have experienced the predatory behaviour by men.
Commonly speaking, it turns out that it is socially acceptable for men to aggressively pursue a female. Many females are taught from their early age that men are the ones who make the first move, men are the ones who propose women marriage, and of course, men are the ones who instigate sex. The explanation why women shouldn’t make the first move, or propose marriage is simple – because it is unladylike. While many women may not be interested in being seen as “ladylike,” they also may not want to be seen as desperate—and unfortunately that’s the way females are very often labelled when they take the lead.
This entire culture of it being acceptable, and even expected, that men take control leaves the male/female dynamic wide open to abuse, as there are many men out there who take it way too far—and get away with it.
There is an ongoing “me too” campaign on social media asking those who have been affected by predatory behavior to post it as their status, or in a comment. I believe that if everyone who has been violated sexually would post it, there would barely be any women without it on their status, and there would be a hell of a lot of men speaking out too.
No matter if we post “me too” on our social media accounts, or we will just silently say it each time we hear another allegation of sexual abuse, we all know how it feels to feel powerless in another human being’s company.
I’m praying and urging that the Weinstein allegations being brought into the spotlight will cause a cultural shift to take place, whereby men (or women) fully realize that it is wrong to continue to make sexual advances toward anyone who is not interested,. It’s also not acceptable to use power, status, or wealth to attempt to manipulate and coerce women, or men, to engage sexually.
A lot of adult men need to understand that when a male comes onto a female, not all females (women or girls), have mental (or physical) strength and courage to explain that they are deeply uncomfortable and do not appreciate the sexual interest. Many women freeze when their personal boundaries are disregarded and violated—but please take note; an absence of a “no” does not mean it’s a “yes.” Boys need to be taught this at their early age, as it is not just grown men who are predatory; many teenage boys also consider it “normal” to continue with sexual behaviour even when it is clear that if the teenage girl had the confidence to speak out, she would scream, “No!”
For so many years, being sexually abusive has been more socially acceptable than speaking out about sexual abuse. Isn’t that ironic? Many people chose to remain quiet about their abusive, aggressive, and manipulative sexual experiences because they feel that would bring shame, embarrassment, and unwanted attention to themselves, rather than to the person perpetrating it. Not only would people are ashamed of speaking out, they would possibly stand to lose friends, family members, their career, and possibly their home.
We, as a group, have to change this, turn it around and send out a loud, clear, and consistent message that sexual advances toward any male or female have to be mutually welcomed.
What is the most important thing to do is to spread the message that there are no gray lines. So, what is abusive?
- If you are using a position of authority to assist your sexual advances.
- If you are making sexual advances toward someone who is underage.
- If you are using threats or blackmails to make sexual advances.
- If it is clear that the sexual interest is not welcomed and non-consensual but you continue anyway.
- If the other person says “no” or backs away and recoils, and you continue.
- If you are harassing someone so that they will engage in sexual activity.
- If you force yourself on someone sexually and physically.
- If you are using alcohol or drugs to intentionally cloud the other person’s mind so that they engage in sexual activity.
- If the person is intimidated, fearful, or is motionless and you continue anyway.
Being sexually abusive and inappropriate is not just a male issue. Let’s not forget that there are many females who act as sexual predators, too. Many women use their power to make sexual advances.
While some think it is dark to talk about abuse, it is shedding light on something that has been kept in the darkness for too long. It’s important that we, together can change what tragically has somehow become widely accepted culture.
The #MeToo hashtag was launched on twitter by Alyssa Milano.
“While I am sickened and angered over the disturbing accusations of Weinstein’s sexual predation and abuse of power, I’m happy—ecstatic even—that it has opened up a dialogue around the continued sexual harassment, objectification and degradation of women. To the women who have suffered any form of abuse of power, I stand beside you. To the women who have come forward against a system that is designed to keep you silent, I stand in awe of you and appreciate you and your fortitude. It is not easy to disclose such experiences, especially in the public eye. Your strength will inspire others. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for fighting this battle so hopefully my daughter won’t have to.”
There are various figures stating the number of people who have been sexually assaulted; however, it is almost impossible to count how many have experienced some form of sexual abuse, as many do not report it, and even when they do, as happened with Harvey Weinstein, often there is no clear evidence of a crime, and the case is dropped.
I would say that almost every woman has experienced inappropriate or abusive sexual behavior, and a high percent of men too.
Abuse can happen anywhere and to anyone. Sexually predatory behavior has to end.
As a friend of mine, John Moore, today so eloquently explained:
“I am profoundly affected by virtually every woman I know posting ‘me too’ about sexual assault and harassment. I know it’s most likely every woman, just from the conversations I’ve had with female loved ones and women I’ve taught.
But it’s stunning to see it this ‘in your face,’ and I know that’s part of the point.
As men, we are uniquely situated and have an inherent responsibility to be a part of the solution. Beyond just being a decent human being who doesn’t harass or assault other human beings, there’s a lot more we can do:
- We can call out, confront, and condemn victimizing behavior when we see it. It becomes about changing the culture where the norm was to sweep these things under the rug.
- We can speak out, hunt down, bear witness, and help prosecute offenders. We can get involved in the movement to change the society where this behavior has flourished.
- Maybe most importantly, we can examine ourselves, our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs about women. ‘Real men’ are not threatened by the feminine, do not objectify, do not attack, do not use. Those things are about fear of a loss of power. Be an ally. Hold space for women, listen to them. Don’t be a dick!”