Tag Archives: sexual harassment

The Problem with Consent

Imagine, if you will, a seven-year-old me going to her 2nd grade classroom to find the room filled with sugar cookies and balloons. It’s one of my classmate’s birthdays and their mom had brought in some store-bought birthday themed cookies to celebrate. I was what adults called a picky eater; I still am actually. I hate those store-bought cookies—the ones that come in those difficult to open plastic containers and have frosting that sticks to the roof of your mouth like cement. My parents never bought these cookies and so the only times I ran into them were at events like these.

Before, whenever a parent would come in with these cookies, I’d be given one, which I’d immediately sneak into the garbage can when no one was looking. I hadn’t yet learned the skill of eating something just to be polite. This year though I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to waste the cookie. I told the woman passing out cookies that I didn’t want one, that I didn’t like them.

If you’ve ever been in a situation similar to this one you know how persistent people can be when you tell them that you don’t like a certain food. They’ll cajole, prod, and sometimes even trick you into eating the food. Convinced if you try it just one more time that you’ll love it. This woman bothered and harassed me so much about her gross cookies that I ended up taking one and biting into it, even though the taste made me gag. From then I started lying, telling people when they offered me those cookies that I was allergic to one of the ingredients inside.

On the surface this seems like more of an annoying thing that people do rather than a real societal problem, but it’s actually a larger symptom of the problems with consent in America. In that classroom that woman taught everyone in that room that it doesn’t matter what you want. “No” didn’t mean no. “No” wasn’t the end of the conversation, it was the beginning of a siege. You can see parallels in how people pressure others into drinking at parties or even having sex.

This woman thought she knew better what I wanted inside my body than I did. She wasn’t my mother, my doctor, or me. I’m not trying to demonize her, but to merely show that we have a serious problem with how we teach kids about consent. She taught every child in that room that the word “no” was meaningless and that others can and will bully you into doing things you don’t want to do. We can tell children that “no means no” all we want, but unless we put the weight of our actions behind it, then it’s meaningless. Teaching people about consent starts when we respect people and their own personal wants.

Whether its about cookies or sex, No should mean No.

 

Cover Photo from “Forks in the Road”

Katy Perry Kiss

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.

 

Cover Photo from E News

Horrors of Hollywood’s Harvey

The land of Hollywood is known for its gossip and scandals but recent events have brought forth a serious and shocking, and apparently not so secret, secret. Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault by an increasing number of women in the film making industry, with famous names such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelia Jolie being among the women to come forward. Harvey Weinstein has reportedly been harassing (both sexually and not) women for decades, as well as harassing men and almost anyone he has worked with. It was something of an open secret among the people who work for him. Weinstein was a movie mogul and could do great things for his movies and the careers of the people who worked with him. This gave him a lot of power and it was power he blatantly abused.

Among other things, Weinstein was reported to have badgered women to give him a massage while he was naked, to offer to help their careers in exchange for sex, or even force himself on to the women. This was behavior that he was allowed to get away with for two reasons: because he was Harvey Weinstein, a movie mogul with all of the power in these situations, and because many women felt that nothing would get accomplished if they did speak and, in fact, that it would hurt or even destroy their careers. This is a horrendously disgusting mindset and environment that has been cultivated over the years. No one should be in a situation where they have this much power that they can abuse whoever they like, however they like, nor should anyone be made to feel this powerless, especially in the case of sexual assault.

This man should lose everything he has because he gain his reputation, his power, and his wealth through a manipulative system of various kinds of abuse, the most prominent being his sexual abuse of women. It is horrifying that this went on for as long as it did, but, on a brighter note, this man is finally being held responsible for his actions and many organization, including the company he started, are readily denouncing him and striping him of many of his titles and rewards. This is also encouraging many people to come forward with their stories of abuse and letting them know they can speak up with fear of punishment. Terry Crews has even announced on twitter his own experience with sexual harassment, where he was blatantly groped at a party, in front of many people. Hopefully, this will be an experience that will prevent further abuses of women and power and one that encourages everyone to speak up in the instants that it does happen.

 

Photo from Washington Post