It happened fifty years ago. I was an adult when at last I told my mother, and ten years had passed since those visits to his office. My mother told me an almost identical story she heard from a co-worker about the same man. I can’t recall how we started this conversation or who told their story first. But the same stories meant there were probably more of the same.
I don’t believe every posting of #MeToo or every media story of accusations. There are opportunistic parasitic liars that have some need to become part of the public story on their own agendas. Stealing from all the others. That if found out, deflect attention away from the issues and those telling the truth.
I believe most of the stories. Hell, if I only believed a quarter that’s enough to pronounce this an epidemic and bring it into the light. Where does it go from here? Is there a change coming? How do we educate and train people to stop? We’ve tried and obviously failed. I know from discussing workplace harassment policies it’s sometimes hard to understand what’s OK. The stories in the news are so obviously not OK and often quid pro quo. Even criminal. And there is that sense of entitlement. But every instance of sexual banter is not harassment. Every touch is not unwelcome. And these stories coming out are a range of behaviors seemingly thrown into one big writhing pit of snakes.
I said the other day that this is just a break in bad behavior. I was feeling negative. My daughter is waiting for her generation to take over since mine is the generation perpetuating this behavior. I don’t think so. Someone told me a story of a 20-something man following around an attractive woman co-worker who wasn’t interested in his attention. The guy didn’t see any parallel to stories in the news. Because his behavior was not a big deal? Two days ago I went in a store to buy shoes and passed a display table of t-shirts imprinted with the thonged ass of a woman and another one with a front pose of a topless woman holding her hands over the nipples. That one reminded me of the Al Franken photo. Except, of course, her hands instead of a man’s. Are these shirts some political backlash statement to the accusations? And why weren’t there t-shirts with men’s thonged asses and hands held in front of penises? Or maybe I’m looking at these t-shirts in the wrong way. Perhaps their targeted customers are women or both sexes.
Are a man and I thinking the same thing about each other if we are facing each other wearing such t-shirts? Maybe you’ll make a case for generational difference in ideas.
Can we argue that those t-shirts are freedom of expression and I’m seeing too much in that expression? The vicious circle — I support your right to express yourself even when I hate what you’re saying. I’m still feeling negative.