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|         _______                 | There was an old man in a trunk           |
|     ,--'.:::::.`-._             | who enquired of his wife, "Am I drunk?"   |
|    /..:::::::::::..\            | She replied with regret,                  |
|   /..:::::::::_;::::|           | "I'm afraid so, my pet",                  |
|  || `---'----' _|:::|           | and he answered "It's just as I thunk".   |
|  ||            `;:::|           |                                           |
|  |' ====  ====  |-::|           |                                           |
|  |-( @ )-( @ )--|O):|           |                                           |
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|   .    v        |:/   jeremy@   |                                           |
|    |   ___,     ||    malcolm   |                                           |
|     \   --    _/|     .id.au    |                                           |
|      \_____.-'__/-.__           |                                           |
|      _|     _/|::.\.::-._       |                                           |
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| "Sexual harassment" ::                                 [2017-10-17 04:33AM] |
|                                                            mood: Contrarian |
|                                                             music: deadmau5 |
|                                                                             |
| I'm going to start off by talking about what isn't sexual harassment. Most  |
| obviously, there is nothing wrong with being sexually attracted to someone  |
| - it's not a moral issue whatsoever, and doesn't require their consent or   |
| even their knowledge. Your attraction to someone is simply a given fact;    |
| it's not something that you choose, it's a feeling that you experience. A   |
| feeling can never be wrong in itself.                                       |
|                                                                             |
| There are however many cases in which you can't or shouldn't express your   |
| attraction to someone - because they are walking down the street and it     |
| would be catcalling, or because they are someone in your care such as an    |
| employee or student, or because they are a service worker doing their job,  |
| or because they are underage and should be left alone until they are older. |
|                                                                             |
| But in none of those cases are you a bad person simply for feeling          |
| attracted to such a person. You are only a bad person if you act on your    |
| attraction in an inappropriate way. Sometimes, as in the cases above, it's  |
| inappropriate even to mention your attraction to someone, because there's   |
| no good that could come of it, and the risk of considerable harm, such as   |
| the victim feeling physically unsafe. You should just allow yourself to     |
| privately feel whatever you feel, and move on (with help from a loved one   |
| or therapist if you need it).                                               |
|                                                                             |
| But in most other cases, expressing that you are attracted to someone in a  |
| way that is respectful, not overtly sexual, doesn't express an entitlement  |
| to reciprocation, and doesn't place them in any fear of harm, is perfectly  |
| fine, and is not the same as sexual harassment. If the object of your       |
| affection reacts badly to such an approach and calls you a "creep", then    |
| that's on them, not on you. (They too are allowed to feel whatever they     |
| feel, but it doesn't make them right for expressing it in a hurtful way;    |
| that just makes them a jerk.)                                               |
|                                                                             |
| So this leads us to the current social media storm about sexual             |
| harassment, in which the "#MeToo" hashtag is being used to express the      |
| awful fact that basically all women have felt sexually harassed or abused   |
| at one time or another. But what's a little disappointing is to read a lot  |
| of people attempting to explain sexual harassment by reference to baseless  |
| and discredited tropes like it's not about sex, it's about power. The fact  |
| is that in most cases the unwanted sexual advances that men make towards    |
| women are about sex.                                                        |
|                                                                             |
| To misunderstand this means that the problem of sexual harassment will      |
| never be solved, because the perpetrators of much of the sexual harassment  |
| that you want to stop doesn't come from who you think it does - aggressive  |
| sociopaths or misogynists - but from well-intentioned, socially clumsy men  |
| who just don't realise that, on average, women don't feel the same way      |
| about casual sex as men do.                                                 |
|                                                                             |
| Combined with another population-level difference between the sexes -       |
| mens' relative lack of empathy - and the fact that our society still        |
| places the burden on men to make the first move in sex and relationships,   |
| and you have a recipe for some men simply misjudging the line between       |
| flirting and sexual harassment. Any strategy to effectively reduce sexual   |
| harassment has to account for these men.                                    |
|                                                                             |
| This doesn't mean that men who sexually harass women unintentionally        |
| should get a pass. Sexual harassment is still wrong, regardless of whether  |
| it is an intentional abuse of power or a misplaced sexual overture. But it  |
| does mean that the strategies used to address deliberate sexual harassment  |
| and assault by men like Harvey Weinstein are not going to be the same       |
| strategies that you use to address the broader social problem of sexual     |
| miscommunication between women and men.                                     |
|                                                                             |
| For example, I suspect that naming and shaming men for flirting is far      |
| less likely to solve this larger problem than education about consent,      |
| boundaries, and workplace ethics. The #MeToo hashtag is helping, but the    |
| provably false "it's not about sex" trope isn't, and neither is the denial  |
| of population-level sex differences that contribute to the                  |
| misunderstanding of womens' likely sexual interest by many otherwise        |
| well-meaning men.                                                           |
|                                                                             |
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