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#metoo

January 18, 2018

Just because someone doesn't tweet #metoo doesn't mean she doesn't have a story. 

 

Sometimes she just doesn't want to share it. Or even remember it. 

 

Some stories are more painful than others. 

 

I want to respect every woman's story. I will respect that it's possible - maybe even probable - that every woman has a story of #metoo. But please, let's not confuse experiences of harassment and assault with stories of fighting off every young, horny man we dated. Which is what I think the Aziz Ansari story is.

 

Sometimes a woman's story is that she had sex on a date because she feared for her safety if she didn't. But sometimes her story is that she had sex because the guy was incredibly persistent and annoying and it just seemed easier to do it and get him on his way. Not a situation a woman should have to endure, granted, so let's teach our sons what constitutes appropriate foreplay. But it's entirely possible that the situation could be reversed and a man might also go ahead and sleep with an overly aggressive woman simply to get rid of her. The reverse is not necessarily true for the former example. It's far less likely that a man would sleep with a woman because he's afraid not to. Not impossible, just improbable. 

 

The difference is also what also constitutes harassment - the power variable. In some cases the power a man wields over a woman is physical. In harassment situations, it's often a power dynamic in a workplace, provided to them by decades of being promoted over equally (or more) qualified female counterparts. So this is something that I encourage everyone with a daughter to explain to her. I wish someone had explained this to me when I was in my 20s.

 

If a guy her age (and rank) tells her that she looks hot, that can be flirting. If an older (and more powerful) man tells her she looks hot, that is often harassment. Sadly, young women are often flattered by an older, more powerful man commenting on her body. Especially if he's attractive. She may think, "Wow, I must be something special if the boss thinks I'm hot!" She's being manipulated and she may not even know it. But this is what harassers do - they prey on the young and the naive. Help your daughters to recognize this as dangerous and not complimentary behavior. 

 

Women collectively despaired when a man who openly bragged about assaulting women was elected president. How could it be 2016 and women were still being treated with such utter disregard? But that nadir was a turning point that seems to have given rise to the revolution. We will not be silent and ashamed. We will not work for less money or be interrupted in meetings or lose our right to family planning. It is the 21st century. It is our time. 

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