We often hear about women having to deal with unwanted sexual attention, sexual harassment, and situations were consent was ignored or belittle. There are, unfortunately, many stories like that out in the world and it is never hard to find a recent one. Not to mention the recent “Me Too” movement that has happened in Hollywood and around the nation. But what happens with a women is in the place of the harasser and the man is in the place of the victim?
Katy Perry is a judge on the television show “American Idol” where she coerced a 19-year-old male contestant into kissing her. The contestant said that he had never kissed a girl before and Katy Perry beckon him over and got him to kiss her, despite his protests. Afterwards the contestant said he felt uncomfortable during the whole exchange, and that he had been wanting to save his first kiss.
This is unacceptable. If people want to make real advancements in ending sexual harassment, women have to be held just as accountable as men when they are the perpetrators. Katy Perry harassed this young man, and frankly it is creepy and gross. Many people are blowing this off because “who wouldn’t want to kiss Katy Perry?” Just because she is a celebrity does not give her a free pass to do as she pleases.
Imagine if this was a 33-year old man forcing a 19-year old girl to kiss him. There would be public outrage. The public as a whole would call for this man’s head. But because it is a woman, and a famous one, many do not see a problem there. It is a double standard, and one that should not exist. Men can and do experience sexual harassment and when it is done so publicly, this is the time to stand up for them and do something to support them and state that this type of behavior will not be accepted, regardless of the gender of the victim or perpetrator.
One of the issues and daily harassments that women have to deal with is cat-calling. This is when men yell what are usually superficial, sexist and derogatory remarks at random women passing by. Some of the worst ones involve blatant and disgusting sexual acts or innuendos, while others objectify women and focus on one specific aspect of their body. You would think it would be common knowledge not to harass someone, especially a random stranger. Yet, it happens far too often.
The thought process behind cat-calling is the cat-caller tends to have a skewed perspective on what a compliment is. Telling a woman that you’d like to have intercourse with her (usually said in more crude terms) is not a compliment. It’s objectifying her and reducing her from a real person to a thing for sex. Yelling at a woman to tell her she has a nice backside is, again, objectifying her and making her an object for your pleasure. Contrary to popular belief (or so it would seem), women are real people, actual human beings, and they are not there for the purpose of pleasing men. Hearing that they would be a good sexual partner does not make them feel good. It makes them feel uncomfortable and possibly worry they may be sexually assaulted.
Women like to be complimented; in fact, everyone does – it’s a normal part of being human. We like to hear nice things about ourselves. But being reduced to a single, sexualized body part or sexual act is not a compliment. It’s demeaning and dehumanizing. Women are more than just their bodies and they are not there to make men want them. A good general rule of thumb is that if you would say it to your mother, then it’s probably okay to say to another woman. If you wouldn’t say it to your mother then you probably shouldn’t say it to a random woman walking down the street.