It is incredibly complicated; we have made it so. Similar to the way our current partisan political climate has become deformed by extremism, feminism (something invented to empower women, who were quite literally seen as less important, and less useful, and less necessary to the human race than men, which makes me lol), rather than bringing women to the same table as the men in order to learn to coexist as equals, has become a caricature of its best self.
Instead it has become women pitted AGAINST men (and vice versa). Everyone is a victim of something: women have been victimized by men and men are now victims of male stereotypes. So, in turn, all women get labeled enemy of man, because men can’t be sure who to trust. I know many feel like they can’t even breathe anymore without someone calling harassment.
I know many women feel like they can’t walk out their front door without fielding unwanted advances from predatory men.
Here’s the thing: we let certain things get out of control. Frat parties/hazing/date rape/roofies/revenge porn/workplace advances/athlete rape/using power to leverage sex, etc.
We created and then nurtured a culture that shamed women for standing up and saying no, called them histrionic and frigid and bitchy. Then we told our daughters to say no. But the culture made that too scary. What girl needs THAT following her around?
The reason no was even needed? We created a culture that nurtured boys to pull pigtails instead of saying “I like you”. We told boys to be tough. We taught boys that girls were something they had to take care of, while simultaneously telling them that caring was weak.
At the same time, we started telling girls to hit back. That they didn’t need a man. That they weren’t fragile. But that they should definitely always be polite. Say “please” and “thank you”.
Boys were growing up trying to fit into this impenetrable mold we built for them. Girls were growing up trying to shatter ceilings, but, you know, nicely.
Some things are obvious. If a girl is passed out behind a dumpster, help her inside and get help. Don’t fuck her. Duh.
But a lot of this is much more difficult to categorize.
People in the US have been conditioned to expect immediate results. It is why the planet is about to implode. If we can’t see the results of switching out paper plates for reusable ones today, we keep grabbing paper plates. But the environment is slow-moving. The consequences we are facing today result from choices our grandparents made. They might never have seen them.
Unfortunately, systemic change is the same. We expect that the communication between men and women will be completely altered overnight and then overreact when it isn’t. Which halts any change that may have taken place. Or makes it worse. Geez, give it a minute, people!
We trudge on, and unless we have been genuinely injured intentionally by another person, we try to be gentle teachers rather than enforcers and executioners. We use our words and give that person a chance to hear them before rushing to judgment.
No one just listens anymore.
By the way, I hate the way everything gets taken to the extreme these days. Workplace harassment is a real problem, it’s true. But workplaces are generally made of adults. People come with different senses of humor, and interpretation of what constitutes flirting, etc. We’re all grown here; if someone (whatever gender) says or does something you find offensive, degrading, embarrassing, or just distasteful and unwanted, we need to learn to use our voices RIGHT THEN, the first time it happens, because I think a lot of people cross other people’s boundaries because everyone has different boundaries and we tend to think in terms of our own and act accordingly.
And then when someone has informed you (any of you) that you have crossed a line,
Jeebus it’s not rocket science…
you fucking stop and you never cross that line again.
If you do, well, NOW you are in fact what you felt accused of being, so you can wipe the self-righteousness off your face.
And if they DON’T cross the line again, then we need to let that shit go.* Because we are all human.
See? Then we are learning from each other.
- There is intentional harassment and assault and that is not what I’m addressing here. I’m talking about the little shit; jokes that border on the sexual, asking someone out for coffee, any of the stuff that can be misconstrued or taken wrong, or something that may have been intentional flirting…
you know what? I could explain this all day long, but it’s goddamned time we started using our common sense again. This is not that hard to understand.