“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” – Maya Angelou
Have you ever been in a situation that you didn’t quite know how to respond? Or maybe you second-guessed your own actions? Maybe you felt like you didn’t have a voice? Or that your voice wasn’t strong enough?
Everywhere we go, the #MeToo movement is a hot subject. We talk about it with our friends, neighbors, dinner acquaintances – all of us are sympathetic to the alleged victims – to those who are famous and those who are not.
When does flirtation become sexual harassment? I guess that would be a personal opinion, at least that’s MY opinion. Some can take it with a grain of salt (and dish it back) and others are super-sensitive towards normal flirting. But when does it go too far? When you feel violated? When the guy can’t take a hint? Or when “No” is not comprehended?
Have any of you been sexually harassed or inappropriately touched in the course of your lifetime?
An incident happened to me when I was around 14 years old. It was the late 1970’s, I was living in Connecticut. It was right around the time of the holidays because Bradlees (a department store) was super crowded. I remember my sister and I walking around “bumper to bumper” – like a herd of cows trying to get to our destination. On our way around the store, a middle-aged man walked towards me (like everyone else, because of the herd) and squeezed my boob. I didn’t even notice the guy until I felt the squeeze.
“Did you notice that” I said to my sister. “No, what?”
“That guy, he squeezed my boob.” She said,“No, sorry.”
My sister and I went straight to the customer service desk to file a complaint about what had just happened. Because it happened so fast – all I could describe is what I’ve written here, “middle-aged man, quick squeeze, no idea in what direction he went.” Obviously, nothing came from it.
The Hollywood Elite
Obviously, nothing as severe as the alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polanski, Matt Lauer, Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman, Brett Ratner, Mario Batali, Dieter Wedel (famous German director), a bunch of politicians and a host of other men.
My husband just made a comment that he found something in common among most all of the victims. He said, “I find it interesting that all of these women were allegedly assaulted YEARS ago. Why didn’t they come forward then?”
“One voice won’t change anything,” is all I said.
It’s interesting how we were conditioned from a very young age that one voice couldn’t fight City Hall. And those of us who chose to battle, were shot down in court. Her word against his and with no witnesses – City Hall would always be victorious.
To be clear, I’m talking about harassment. Not alleged rape or drugging or masturbating; that is for the lawyers and the judicial system to dispute amongst each other.
Reactions to the Movement
Culturally speaking, reactions have been surprising.
The Wrap author, Daniel Kohn writes, “French actress turned activist, Brigitte Bardot slammed the MeToo movement, saying the actresses who complain about sexual harassment in Hollywood are being “hyprocritical and ridiculous.”
In an article in the French magazine, Paris Match, the 83-year-old also said she was never a victim in her five-decade career. Bardot emphasized that she was speaking specifically of “actresses and not women in general.”
“I thought it was nice to be told that I was beautiful or had a nice little *ss,” she said. “This kind of compliment is nice.”
The Washington Post writer, Simona Siri explains, “Culturally, we have a very high bar for what constitutes sexual harassment, both socially and legally. We are more tolerant of men’s improper behavior. Any Italian woman is used to having men commenting on her physical appearance: We call them compliments (and men think of it as just being men). No woman would go to Human Resources if a male colleague were to ask about her sexual life: We call that joking.” The article goes on to say, “Our lack of regulations for norms about sexual interactions in the workplace leaves the issue to improvisation and personal resources: Not having anyone to whom we can report improper advances, the majority of women prefer either to be silent or to brush off the behavior.”
American #MeToo movement meet Italian #QuellaVoltaChe movement.
The Los Angeles Times writer, Erik Kirschbaum, reports, “…Gienow-Hecht also pointed to studies that show Germany lags behind the rest of the European Union when it comes to women’s rights and the number of women in top management positions. Feminism in Germany has been lagging behind for the last 40 or 50 years,” she added. “It has not advanced as far, and #MeToo is in many ways an expression of power.” The article continues, “Germany also has been relatively slow to modernize its laws against rape. It took until 1997 for Parliament to recognize rape in marriage as a crime. Polls have found that 40% of women in Germany report having experienced sexual or physical abuse…”
In the Bible
In the Book of Ruth (NIV), “So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”(Ruth 2:8-9)
From the Beginning of Time
Is there some biological need for men to feel the need to “spread their seed” all the time? Further investigation brought me to Focus on the Family website. Author Juli Slattery pretty much summed up what I have thought for a very long time. She said that guys experience sex as a physical need. Biologically speaking, the more testosterone in his body, the more frequently he needs to have sex. After having sex, his body builds up again, only needing another release. The more sex he has, the more sperm his body produces. But then she went on to compare the need of sex to breast feeding. I thought her explanation was great. “If you’ve had a baby, you may relate to the experience of milk building up in your breasts a few days after giving birth. The buildup of breast milk becomes annoying (and even painful) until the milk is expressed…”
I remember about 16 years ago I did a job for my husband that was supposed to take two hours, tops. It ended up taking nine hours. I was breastfeeding back then so nine hours without expressing… my boobs were rock hard and ginormous by the time I got home. If that’s how a sexually charged man feels – I get it.
But I wouldn’t go around telling people to suckle my boob.
The #MeToo movement – what will come of it? I am certain there will be many lawsuits. Handcuffed men will be going to prison for sexual abuse. But really, will that stop or curb sexual harassment? I mean, since it’s been going on since biblical times…
Where is your sexual harassment meter set?
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