To be fair, every issue fades away from the front page. Eventually. Usually within a few weeks. Occupy, Tiger Woods, Cosby and Climate change being amongst the longest legged recently. But, still none of those are on the front page today. It’s hard for anyone, save for the ongoing orange spectacle that is Trump, to stay at the top of the ‘popular interest’ list. But, one would think that the Me,Too movement will persist whether or not it remains front page. It should.
I will attempt to breathe a little life into it today by saying: It should ‘grow up’ a helluva lot but it should endure.
A quick summary-to-date: Me, too is the universal mobilization of women against an all-too-common crime-upon-the-person syndrome in all or most societies most women experience in their lifetime. They call this ‘crime’ (and, in many cases, so do I) sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a hugely ill-defined term but they are against it because, quite simply, it is usually unwanted behaviour, wrong-headed, evil and immoral (amongst many other things). None of them like it. All of them want it stopped and, in numbers, there is strength.
But, there is NOT consensus about what it is. Or even what to do about it.
The biggest problem I have with Me,Too is that it demands that all allegations be believed without question, that all allegations are tantamount to convictions and that the punishment should far exceed the crime. Further, Me, Too, rejects the requirement of due process and differing opinions (from the accused) and worse, extrapolates the ‘crime’ as a pervasive, underlying condition of society that can only be righted by condemning all men and elevating all women to higher positions of power.
Furthermore, all men are deemed guilty of something! And that is insane. It is NOT enough to condemn Harvey Weinstein but all men in the vicinity of him were also guilty for NOT coming to the woman’s rescue.
The irony of that dependence on men seems to escape them.
I have other issues as well. If an attractive man (think Brad Pitt) exceeds the unwritten rule book and lays on the charm to some woman and she likes it, there is no harassment to complain about. If an unattractive man (think ‘everyman’) lays on his best-but-unwanted efforts and it is regarded as ‘undesired’, that man is subject to life-destroying ‘allegations’. In other words: sexual harassment is, in at least some cases, limited in definition by the eyes of the beholder.
That is the very definition of subjective.
That is hard for me to accept. I have, myself, been attracted to a female who may have even made efforts to be attractive (make-up, etc.) and been well-received and a pleasant if not short-lived encounter was achieved. I have also employed the same approach-style to other attractive women who did NOT find my efforts engaging and little or nothing was achieved. It seemed – at the time, anyway – my biological imperative to make the first OVERT move. I was socially conditioned to take the ‘risk’ of being told to F-off.
Trust me. It is extremely hurtful for a terrified teenage boy to be rejected so viciously and so often but most of us simply developed over time a thicker skin. Why? Because we were also encouraged by our culture that persistence was part of charm. The ‘guy’ who ‘chased’ the girl often won her heart.
We were conditioned to try and try again.
With Sally, I laid it on as thick as I could. And I persisted. And I did not take ‘NO’ for an answer. Admittedly, she did not scream “F-off!” at me or phone the police but I got used to ‘NO’ for awhile. By today’s standards, I could be accused of harassment (I like to think of it as charm but we know what credibility we are now giving the male’s point of view – none!). Sal and I have been together for 47 years and I, for one, would sign up for another 47 in a heartbeat. So a little persistence paid off. It was considered ‘part of the mating ritual.’ Presumably by both of us.
In other words, some level of effort that might be perceived as charm by one and annoyance by the other was deemed natural. Where such perceptions differed, forgiveness and benefit of the doubt was expected.
Now? Not so much.
Many women friends of mine will counter: “We are not talking about that!”
And I know that – for the sane friends I have, they are not. But Me, Too is talking about ALL that. Most women I know have a clear distinction between sex ‘crimes’, harassments, bad behaviour, naughty behaviour and ‘misunderstandings’ or even clumsy attempts. My friends are NOT stupid.
But by NOT making those distinctions in every case and all the time (due process), they are guilty of unfairness and power-tripping. The need for distinction and analysis in those behaviours is HUGE and, further, even though much of this is subjective, some kind of due process that puts subjectivity in it’s place needs to be employed.
Something even bigger is happening. Maybe it should but I don’t think so. Blanket condemnation of all men for all sexual behaviours is simply insane and a form of denial about the species. Men and women are in this together and yet we are very often completely different in our thoughts and feelings. Misunderstandings will happen. We need to condemn only the real crimes and forgive the misdemeanors.
One female friend said something on this topic just the other day, “But due process hasn’t worked!”
I’ve been thinking about that and I agree. Due process has not worked. Not for either gender but especially for women. But that does not mean we abandon due process and head for the lynching tree. It simply means due process needs to be improved. We all know the law is an ass and very few of the laws work as we would like them to but that does not mean we abandon the justice system. If we do, we put ourselves in the position of judge and jury and we all know what power like that does…..it corrupts.
NB. This is 1000 words. I could write a book. No one cares about my opinions that much so I leave it at 1000 words. Plus these few more: the battle of the sexes has been waged for eons. It is not likely to ever be fully resolved. The genders are programmed differently. But we are all in this together and I think we have to put more effort into understanding, forgiveness and acceptance. Yes, that even means accepting outrageous condemnations of men for their natural tendencies because outrageous condemnations are also natural tendencies. This is the yin and yang of it.