I suspect that in certain quarters this is not going to win me any friends. I don't rightly care. Those of you of a nervous disposition might want to scroll on past right now...
Hello those who are still here. You may or may not have noticed that sexual harrassment is something of a hot button topic in the lib dems, and indeed politics in general, at the moment. This is because, despite years and years of being told over and over again, some people (mainly, but not exclusively, men) refuse to get it. I am therefore going to put this in very simple terms.
The worst thing about sexual harrassment is the absolute, wearying, relentless inevitability of it. If you present as female, wherever you go there will be some arsehole, normally a man, and I'm afraid the rest of this post is going to be entirely in gendered terms because that's my experience*, who views you as nothing more than a receptacle for his knob and treats you accordingly.
And yes, #NotAllMen. But enough men. Enough men for it to be a hazard in every single public place. Enough men that other, nicer, men don't stop from sexually harrassing because they don't even notice it happening, or if they do
notice they brush it off, dismiss it, or even think it's funny.
And yes, women don't always tell such men that their advances are unwanted. Because we
I can hear the cry building up right now:
But waaaaaaaaah what is a man who wants a shag and fancies a woman supposed to do! We're not even allowed to talk to women any more! It's so unfair! Our entitlement to consequence-free sex is being taken away! etc. etc et bloody cetera.
You know how
I know that cry is building up from the men who view women as nothing more than pieces of meat? Because on every single fucking article
some poor woman writes about this, that's what the comment section looks like. Waaaaah not allowed to be friendly. Waaaaaah not allowed to give people a hug. Waaaaaaaah not allowed to flirt. Waaaaaaaaaaaaah not allowed to grope somebody and then pretend it was just an affectionate gesture. The species will die out if we can't conduct mating rituals without paying any attention to one party's feelings on whether or not mating should occur!
Boys, when you say shit like that, you are fooling nobody
. Right out of your own mouth comes the evidence that you think of women as sperm receptacles first and human beings second, because you know what? Nobody who wasn't
worried they are a sexual harrasser would talk such utter bollocks. You are not
entitled to a shag just because you want one, go and have a wank just like everybody else does when they fancy someone who doesn't fancy them back, and stop bloody whining like Kevin the teenager
because you can't get your end away.You are absolutely allowed to talk to women
. I speak to men all the time. I spoke to several only this morning. Quite a lot of the men I spoke to, we were both in a state of undress (I went to the gym and swimming). Only one man sexually harrassed me today (today was a quiet day for entitled arseholes, I guess). Most of them were lovely. But that one man is enough to make me keep my distance a little bit more from all men, because who knows if any of them is Scroedinger's Rapist
. So if you want women to feel safer and easier talking to you? You, as a man, need to notice, call out, and stop sexual harrassment.You are absolutely allowed to be friendly to women
. "Being friendly" and "trying to get into the pants of" are not synonyms though. I have lots of friends that I don't have sex with.You are absolutely allowed to hug or have other affectionate contact with women if
they are your friends, and you know for a damn straight fact they are enthusiastically consenting. If you've just met someone in a bar, putting your arm around them marks you out as a creeper, guys. And just because nobody has said anything does not mean you are not being marked as a creeper. You put your arm around someone and they immediately tense up? You take your arm away. Not rocket science.You are absolutely allowed to flirt with women
. The trick to this is: is she flirting back? If she's got a genuine, open smile, if she's responding to you in kind, then flirt away! If she's backing away, answering in monosyllables, looking at the door, giving you a glassy smile rather than a genuine one... You need to back the fuck off and shut the fuck up because she is not interested in you. She may not outright say "Look, mate, I'm not interested", because as the links above show, that can get you beaten, raped, or killed. Learn to read body language, and you will be fine. Guys who master this skill are way more attractive to women, because when a guy treats us with respect we feel such relief that he's not One of Them...
Ah yes, Them.
You see, the thing is, the research shows
that actually, pretty much all men understand this. But the sexual harrassers, assaulters and rapists are the ones who trot out the shit about grey areas and being confused by it because that's how they get away with it
. So I'm sorry to break it to you, boys, but every time I see one of you coming out with some of these gems, I think to myself "that dude is an uncaught rapist". Quite a lot of you are, you know. Many of you will cheerfully admit to it, so long as nobody uses the 'r' word
And as long as nice men, normal men, men who aren't sexual harrassers, assaulters and rapists, keep letting
this shit get trotted out again and again by their mates because "Simon** wouldn't do that, he's a good guy" or "David***'s such a gentleman, though" then this situation is going to continue.
And we're going to keep having the "but whyyyyyyy don't more women want to join our club?" discussion for years and years to come. Frankly, AWS isn't even a sticking plaster on this.
*I know sexual assault, harrassment, and rape happens to men too. I know survivors of male rape have it extra difficult in terms of not being believed, and not getting justice. I rage about that too, just not in this post. OK?
**Not all Simons
***Not all Davids
I just picked those names randomly. Sorry.