The following is not a try to find excuses, and it’s not meant to downplay women’s accusations. It’s just my view of the world, and I apologize in advance for being thought-provoking.
Pandora’s box has been opened, and it’s going to stay open. Women are coming forward and point fingers. Harvey Weinstein has been accused by more than 200 women; Bill Cosby got away without punishment -it left him with a destroyed legacy. Sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, sexual abuse and in some cases even rape -women start to speak up as they should, men are speaking up as well. Kevin Spacey, an actor that I like(d) got fired and replaced when men accused him of sexual harassment and attempted rape.
“Beauty provokes harassment, the law says, but it looks through men’s eyes when deciding what provokes it.”
― Naomi Wolf
Actors, TV celebrities and politicians are being called out, and I can’t help wonder how much money is secretly being exchanged these days, to buy silence.
I remember when I was in boarding school. I was the youngest in class; every girl around me had already developed, while I was flat as an iron board. Finally, nature decided to bless me as well, and I got blessed a lot. I was so proud. I was becoming a woman, and it was there for everybody to see.
“Don’t dress provocative,” the nuns told us, and my Grandmother agreed. “Some girls are asking for IT,” she informed me, and I tried so hard to understand. Boys looked at me differently all of a sudden, even the ones I had shared the sandbox with. I wanted to explore the world of make-up and short skirts, like everybody else. How could that harm me?
My first kiss was placed as a surprise attack by a boy, who probably had misread the signals -because there were none. He didn’t mean me any harm, he just tried.
The first time men whistled took me by surprise. Was it meant to be a compliment, or was it an insult?”
It’s complicated. When Brat Pitt whistles after me (not that he ever would) it’s a compliment; when it’s the old, toothless plumber from next door, it’s an insult. Yes, men have tried to kiss and hug me. The ones I didn’t like, were firmly pushed back in their place; the others, the ones I liked -well that’s material for a different post.
I watched Al Franken’s resignation speech with sadness. One of the great, outspoken senators had been accused. A woman said he had groped her around the waist. “He tried to kiss me,” another one said, and a picture clearly shows, he was pretending to touch a woman’s breast. Bad joke, bad taste or a crime?
Heads are rolling. People get fired left and right -we go from one extreme to the next. What happened to common sense?
Shouldn’t the punishment fit the crime? Can a placed kiss be compared to attempted rape? Accusations and allegations are just that. While I believe the majority of women, I still believe in INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY as well. I think people should not run for public service until they are either cleared of all charges or convicted. Suspend the accused in the meantime and IF you fire them, don’t pay them millions to sweeten the deal. What kind of f***ed up logic is that?
I am proud to see women speaking up, especially in a time when we are (once again) being told we don’t have the final say over our bodies. I am proud to see men, especially gay men, speaking up. I can imagine how hard it must be.
Women should not be downgraded to be sex objects -but how do you explain that to a young man who watches his idols do precisely that?
Money can’t buy everything, for sure it can’t buy class and style. That’s the only explanation I have.
I will never forget that night, when an older gentleman, who I admired, told me about his wish. He wished for a secret apartment with the right kind of woman -a place that he would pay for so that he could visit her. He made it sound so elegant and so innocent, it was just a statement, not really an offer. As a reply, I asked him about his family and his wife, told him about my husband, and we continued to talk for a while; then I paid for my drink, and I left.
Months later I saw him at the same bar with a young woman by his side. I greeted him, we smiled at each other. Do I blame him? No, not really. There is a market out there, you just have to find the right buyer.
I have worked in a men’s world. I had to learn to defend myself at a time, when there was no HR department and no harassment forms to fill out. “Deal with it,” they said, and so I did.
I have received questionable invitations from co-workers, even a sexual offer that would have “helped” my career. I never panicked, I learned to use language as a weapon. I can make myself very clear and I can smile while doing so.
Perhaps, I have just been lucky, and the men around me never overstepped my boundaries, when I made myself clear.
I watched women offering themselves on a silver platter, mostly to older men who had money. I hated it so much, it made defending myself so much harder.
The interaction between the sexes is complicated, and so are all the rules that come with it. How easy they can be misunderstood; how easy is to abuse power.
If it’s not OK to touch women’s breasts, it should also not be OK to touch men’s behinds. It works both ways.
Sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and rape, these are serious crimes, and they should be tried in court to determine the guilt or innocence of an accused. This should not be a witchhunt, and the same rules should apply to EVERYBODY regardless of position, gender, religion, race or political affiliation.
But what do I know?