#MeToo with a Proviso   2 comments

I’ve had several friends say I need to post something on Harvey Weinstein and his reprehensible behavior toward women. It’s wrong … wrong … WRONG.

I guess I could just stop there and collect my feminist brownie points, but ….

Contrarian, right?

Image result for image of casting couchI’m a pragmatic feminist. I don’t need to acquire brownie points because I qualify in that I can chop my own wood, change my own tires and not cry about any choices I make in life that my “sisters” disapprove of.

It’s wrong when anyone pushes sexual advances on someone who has told them to stop. It’s wrong to expose your sexual organs to someone who doesn’t want to see them. We all ought to be more cognizant of the right of individuals to not be imposed upon by other individuals. That would affect a whole lot more than sexual harassment, but let’s just stay on topic.

I have experienced sexual harassment in my life. Brad earlier confessed to “pestering” me for a date. I couldn’t care less about that. I don’t have a problem with men in a business relationship complimenting me so long as it is something I could compliment them on. “Nice jacket!” “You’ve lost weight, haven’t you?” That doesn’t bother me in part because I hear men and women compliment the same sex along those lines and nobody objects. How does it suddenly become sexual and harassment when it’s a man saying it to a woman, but it’s almost never considered harassment when a woman says it to a man? If I believe in actual equality of the sexes, then I hold men and women to the same standard.

To me, sexual harassment is the coworker who continually makes sexual advances after you’ve told them you’re not interested. The only time I’ve ever been close to filing charges on a coworker for that it was a lesbian doing the harassing. Male coworkers have always accepted “no” for an answer. Brad didn’t, but he was a customer and when I told him to not bother me during my shift, he waited politely on a bench outside the office until I was off duty. I worked in construction settings for several years and even construction workers – not known for their social graces – understand what it means when a woman says “leave me alone.” Karen, the lesbian, hit on me every time she saw me for four years until she got “asked to resign” (so as not to ruin her career) for hitting on another female staff member who filed charges. But before Karen was asked to resign, that female coworker was fired for complaining.

Why was she treated differently than Karen? The executive director was also a lesbian. You can draw your own conclusions.

I saw that coming along time before Leslie put her head on the chopping block, so instead of filing charges, I informed Karen that I’d been journaling our encounters and someone who grew up during the pipeline construction in Fairbanks Alaska knew how to embarrass someone sexually in public and she’d better back the hell up, take her hand off my shoulder and keep it to herself. I kept my job and mostly managed to avoid Karen for the next couple of years, until she was shown the door for doing the same thing to Leslie. But Karen was allowed to leave with dignity while the woman she harassed was fired, so it was kind of a Pyrrhic victory.

You see, I’m an old hand at sexual harassment – real sexual harassment. When I was in junior high school, the Transalaska Pipeline construction boom overwhelmed Alaska. There were prostitutes in the streets and horny construction workers on every block. The male to female ratio in Fairbanks before the pipeline boom was 2:1. During the pipeline construction it was 4:1. Ordinary women could be crossing a parking lot and a man would offer her hundreds of dollars to scratch his itch. My sister-in-law once negotiated a man up to $600 for 15 minutes, a blowjob only … while my brother was standing beside her laughing hysterically. Then she told the guy that he was a creep and rube and continued on with my brother.

Walking home from school, men would stand on the balcony of a local hotel and shout innuendos and rain coins down on us trying, to convince us to come up to their rooms. They knew we were underage. It didn’t matter to them. While I don’t think it was okay, I don’t think it particularly harmed me to have to say “No, get away from me” to men twice my age. Maybe it helped my self-esteem a little to know I had a value in the hundreds of dollars, even if I never collected because I thought what those men were offering was creepy. I learned a lot from that era of my life that I have brought forward into my adult life. I’ve never had a problem telling a man that I’m not interested and I’ve had very few not believe me. (I never told Brad I wasn’t interested. I told him I was working).

After my pipeline days, I worked as a waitress when I was in college. I saw a lot of sexual harassment there, but not what you might think. Some of the waitresses would harass a bus boy who was way handsome and way shy. They’d grab his buns, they’d say things, they were quite blatant. I never saw the manager or any of the cooks try that nonsense with the waitresses, though.

I’ve heard a lot of flirty talk between men and women in the work place. I don’t engage in flirty talk with men I’m not involved with, so when I hear women doing it, I always think “Do you realize how much that degrades any sort of respect a male coworker might have for you?” When men do it with me … not as much these days since I’m middle-aged … I always just let the lob go unresponded. I’m a very quippy person in my personal life and I love to banter back and forth with people, but never on sexual topics.  Unless it is with Brad. He and I do sometimes do that as a sort of fully-clothed foreplay … when the kids aren’t around and we’re alone.

And, so, not too surprisingly for me, I’ve encountered little sexual harassment. I’ve been able to deflect the advances of men with an honest and gracious “not interested, I’m married and don’t cheat” and stayed friends with male coworkers and lesbians like (Karen excepted). I’m not embarrassed by dirty jokes, but most people who know me know I don’t participate, so they just don’t tell them around me, or if they do, I walk away and I guess they continue on without me.

So, when I read about Weinstein and all these women, I think –

This happened because people allowed it to happen. Sexual harassment in Hollywood is nothing new. The casting room couch was an out-there joke that even got airtime on Johnnie Carson. Weinstein always seemed like a bully to me, which is consistent with what Matt Damon said about him – a bully and a womanizer. Brad will tell you that he knows men from the construction field with the same attitude. Does he automatically assume they’re making the female electricians put out? No, but it could be happening and he wouldn’t know it because he’s there to wire buildings, not to investigate the sexual encounters that might be going on in the job shack.

Same with me. I’ve had bosses that were bullies and a few that were womanizers. If they weren’t hitting on me, I never thought they might be coercing my coworkers into sex. Why? Because I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove my trust to be misapplied.

So, I believe the many Hollywood people who say they didn’t know, but weren’t particularly surprised to find out, that Weinstein’s bullying and alpha male act went that far. I’m guessing, Harvey Weinstein – a heterosexual male — was not hitting on Matt Damon — a heterosexual male. I suspect the women knew more because women gossip among themselves. I also suspect that many of the women coming forward now actually never had more than a passing encounter with Weinstein in which nothing approaching actual sexual harassment happened. They’re merely trying to get attention, like the media whores they are.

It particularly disturbs me that so many people are willing to paint so many men with a broad brush of DEPLORABLE because it’s the “appropriate” time to do so. It seems right now in Hollywood, if you didn’t directly work with Weinstein and help him abuse women, then you had to have known and are therefore guilty anyway, or else you’re just like him, you just haven’t been caught. That’s ridiculous. It is every bit as bad as what Weinstein did.

2 responses to “#MeToo with a Proviso

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  1. I wonder how many of those who were harassed could have walked away – presumably without the leading role but with their dignity intact?

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    • Exactly. But there are a lot of actresses who resisted the casting room couch and made it huge in Hollywood – Charlize Theron, Lena Heady, Goldie Hawn, Susan Saradon to name a few. They didn’t necessarily get that particular part, but they kept their dignity and continued auditioning until they got a role where they didn’t have to put out.

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