We need to talk.
If you’ve been checking the news lately, you’ll be aware that some of your fellow dudes are making you look bad when it comes to dealing with us women-folk.
As a working mother with a daughter, I’ve found the past few weeks pretty disturbing. The New York Times listed over 20 men who have been accused of sexual harassment since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. The list includes actors, bloggers, politicians, editors and photographers, suggesting that no industry is free of men who think that waving their junk around in the office is just a bit of a laugh.
On that note, if you’re ever wondering whether you should get your penis out, here’s a helpful guide to when it’s okay and when it’s not.
Some of these men seem to be under the impression that they haven’t really done anything wrong. Here’s how they excuse their behaviour:
They were into it
Here’s how Kentucky speaker of the house Jeff Hoover responded to allegations that he sexually harassed female colleagues:
“I engaged in banter that was consensual but make no mistake it was wrong on my part to do that. And for that, I am truly sorry. … I want to reiterate that at no time, at no time did I engage in unwelcome or unwanted conduct of any kind.”
He claims the sexually-explicit banter was consensual, but was their boss, and therefore in a position of power. One of his accusers says she only went along with it because because another legislative staffer told her she needed to keep Hoover happy in order to advance her career.
No one’s career should depend upon responding to texts like, “My phone was in seat between my legs. You texted and it vibrated. Shew.”
First of all, gross. Second of all, who says ‘shew’?
It’s part of their job
“Many of his professional interactions with subjects were sexual and explicit in nature but all of the subjects of his work participated consensually,” said a spokesperson for fashion photographer Terry Richardson, who has been accused of sexually harassing models who he worked with.
Models’ work may sometimes involve them being scantily clad, but their lack of clothes isn’t an invitation for harassment. They’re at work. So are you. Act like it.
It’s an age thing
Andy Dick responded to groping allegations by saying, “I don’t know the difference between sexual harassment and trying to get a date. In the ’70s, all the girlfriends I got was by kissing and licking their cheek. I don’t know anymore.”
Plenty – hopefully, most – men in their 50s have figured out that plenty things that were acceptable in the 70s are no longer okay. Not wearing seat belts, for instance. Sending your kid to the corner shop to buy you cigarettes. Cycling without a helmet. Going out in the sun without sunblock. Licking women’s faces is no different, except that it’s creepier. And I’m pretty sure this was never a thing.
I was just being nice
Executive producer Andrew Kreisberg has been accused of sexually harassing 19 people. His response?
“I have made comments on women’s appearances and clothes in my capacity as an executive producer, but they were not sexualized.”
In fact, all of his accusers tell similar stories involving sexualized comments about their appearance and desirability, as well as unwanted touching, kissing, and requests for massages. There’s a big difference between that and, “Hey, I like your new shoes.”
Guys, it’s pretty straightforward. It’s never okay to grope a female colleague – or any woman, really – without her consent. It’s never okay to make sexual comments or advances that could make her feel uncomfortable. Never. No excuses.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you’re ever about to do or say something and you think, “Is this appropriate?”, it probably isn’t. So just…don’t.
And keep your junk in your pants. I can’t stress that enough.