An older Lady’s View of the Men’s World

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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?

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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?”

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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?

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48 thoughts on “An older Lady’s View of the Men’s World

  1. Pingback: A busy 2017 #2 From hero to zero | Marcus Ampe's Space

  2. Another great thought-provoking post.

    I’m not a ‘band wagon’ kind of person, or what I think of as flavours-of-the-month. Everyone wants to throw in their 2-cents worth on the topic of the day. At least that was my initial reaction to #metoo.

    I’ve since changed my opinion considerably. This issue should continue to be put under the spotlight and shouted from rooftops… certainly for as long as women continue to be the ones who seem to be on trial in a sexual assault case. Is it any wonder that many, MANY women don’t speak up? And that’s when the accused is a ‘regular’ guy. How much worse it is when the aggressor has money, power, and authority?

    When I thought back to my own youth, I was grateful that I had never had to deal with sexual harassment … until I realized I did. I was surprised, shocked, and finally dismayed at the number of instances I could recall – some ‘innocent’ and not worth a second thought, but others much more serious. And not once, did I ever tell anyone. NO ONE. Why? Embarrassment and shame.

    Finally the onus is being put on where it needs to be – on the accused. However, like you I feel uncomfortable about what is currently happening with public damning and trial by social media – that a single accusation has the potential of destroying someone’s career, family, etc. and all without the opportunity to lodge a defence.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well written, thought provoking. You’re right, we always dealt with it long before there were any forms. (There are sexual harassment forms now??) Most men, when told NO back off. The problem seems to be in places where the women feel they will be retaliated against. Where they need their jobs and fear they will lose the work. Where they don’t feel safe. It’s terrible not to feel safe, and I never really felt that way when I was saying NO. So I think my experiences are not exactly the same as same as what other women dealt with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right, most men will back off when you tell them NO, I experienced the same.

      Yesterday a young woman left a comment, stating that she feels uneasy now when a man pays her a compliment. I felt so much sadness when I read it.

      Like

      • I know. My husband says a man can’t compliment a woman anymore. And I said right now it might be wise to be careful. Then he reminded me that during a visit to DC last month I complimented the young man who was accompanying us to meetings on the Hill on his suit. He looked sharp. He beamed. There was nothing behind the compliment, but now I can see that I, being a Board Member, might have been seen as harassing a young employee. Sigh. It’s so complicated.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. What an excellent article and what an interesting commentary thread. It happens that I wholeheartedly agree with you. The world and his dog are jumping on the witch-hunting bandwagon and making a mockery of what should be a serious issue. The double standards are quite appalling (I can dress and perform in a sexually blatant and enticing manner but don’t say you like my smile … really? Ludicrous). What is needed is merely common sense. As the mother of four daughters who I raised on my own, I know they all know how to handle themselves if a fellow crosses the line between innocent compliment and pushing his corner. I have no worries about them. But the fact is that we should be focusing on real abuse and real rape which are wrong wrong wrong and not sullying the waters with nonsensical allegations. It is a question of balance and it is a question of personal responsibility – both men and women have to be prepared to take equal measures. By the way, my husband commented yesterday that this is precisely why he always has his door open when meeting with a woman. Good practice. But it means that he can never have a private conversation with a female team member. Stupid. I could go on and on but I won’t, I will merely finish by reminding everyone that in this world there are very real issues and that the massed bands of the witch hunt are doing a great job of annihilating what progress has been made in the past. Why , oh why do we always have to swing the pendulum too far …..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Agreed with you that some of these accusations go overboard. Valid sexual harrassment accusations need to be heard, but I worry that we will revert into a climate of neo-Victorian prudishness, in which even a suggestive compliment is considered an assault. That’s no fun–I like to flirt!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I was given a compliment by a male colleague last week. He complimented my smile and I accepted it while blushing . Soon after I wondered if that compliment was permitted. Now, I am not some one who takes offence to much but with all these allegations of sexual harassment I feel like I have lost my comfort zone with the opposite sex. I question any comments and looks and wonder if they fall within the rules and regulations of our sexual harassment guide lines. I am very outgoing and fun and enjoy conversations with both men and women who are the same. But now, i find my self holding back as my actions could be misconstrued for something else. I feel for the woman who went through these ordeals but because of all these allegations, it has drastically changed the way men and women communicate.

    Liked by 2 people

    • For the first time ever I will not answer, but will just copy a comment that was left after yours.

      “Agreed with you that some of these accusations go overboard. Valid sexual harrassment accusations need to be heard, but I worry that we will revert into a climate of neo-Victorian prudishness, in which even a suggestive compliment is considered an assault. That’s no fun–I like to flirt!”

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I too will always support women speaking out about sexual misconduct – but these photos… REALLY? Quite apart from that thing we’re not allowed to even hint at – that anyone might be ‘asking for it’ – what depths has society descended to when this sort of blatantly provocative sexual behaviour is considered public ‘entertainment’? What sort of example is this giving hormonally-charged young men about the need to respect women

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I really love this post. I’ve almost come to the point where I keep quiet in discussions about abuse, at whatever level, for fear of being labelled by whatever label others wish to attach to me. Almost! I really think that respect is lacking in modern education, and it’s almost into 3 generations worth now. Respect for ourselves, respect for others, respect for society, respect for the environment, respect for differences.

    It is mainly, but not exclusively, a male problem, and I’m not convinced that those publicly condemning the recent cases don’t go away and think (or say) “Cor, look at those **********”, or “I could really give her a good ********” No good trying to count the asterisks because they are purely random!

    Am I being negative? Yes, unfortunately I am.

    We all have a long, long way to go yet.

    I’ve said, on many occasions, that the world would be a much better place, in all respects, if every single country had a Matriarchal society. I stick with that!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I got into a sort of argument (in an inappropriate venue too) about this very thing yesterday. There is a fine line between justice and harassment (in the ‘what is the law’ type sense, not the one you’re talking about). And when did privacy become something arbitrary? I’m not (oh hell NO) supporting nor defending anybody (either gender) who thinks because they are ‘rich’ ‘powerful’ ‘famous”, that they are above the law regarding whom they can touch and how. But I’m also very very much against everybody and their dog being involved in discussions and matters that are personal. Are private. It’s so complicated, it’s making my head explode. Just a little. I’d say again common sense. Off color humor isn’t sexual harassment, it’s tasteless and stupid, but if you don’t like the humor, don’t watch, read, listen to it. When did we all lose our freakin’ minds?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Pingback: Mature Lady’s View: Men’s World. – The Militant Negro™

  11. Thoughtful. I have always felt that the law should have better gradations of punishment, including re-education. I think if men could plead guilty sexual harassment and accept treatment, rather than an all-or-nothing prison sentence, the conviction rate would be higher, victims would suffer less in court, and a few more men might understand the harm they do.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s turning into a witch hunt, and right now, in this day and age, all it takes is an accusation and the burden falls on the accused to prove the didn’t do it. Which, as anyone with a brain knows is impossible. It’s impossible to prove a negative. The burden of proof always lies with the accuser. I also believe in innocent until proven guilty, but that’s simply not the case today. But, as with all things, this too shall pass and people will move on to other things.

    Liked by 4 people

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