I do consider myself a feminist – so of course the #metoo movement, the movement asking women to raise awareness to the frequency of sexual harassment and assaults, is something I would like to comment on.
On the first glance, it’s a great movement. But unfortunately, to everything good there is also always a negative/difficult side.
What is positive about the #metoo movement?
What is definitely an advantage is the huge awareness the movement gets. Men, especially in developed countries, often cannot understand the extent of sexual harassment that we women have to face often on a daily basis. I know, I know – men are affected by this too. But as the number of women is much higher than the number of men, I will address them in particular.
With the #metoo movement women get the chance to speak up. They can tell their story, or decide to keep the details to themselves, using only the hashtag and therefore still contributing to the movement in a significant way.
I think it is great, because it takes away the chance of anti-feminists to claim that sexual harassment is a thing of the past, that we don’t need feminists, because equality in all aspects exists already and that “others have it much worse”.
From this point of view, I am definitely in favor of the movement and would encourage you to speak up, if you have something to share. Sexual harassment is NEVER the fault of the woman, of the way she dressed, behaved, or articulated herself.
What is negative about the #metoo movement?
I didn’t think it was possible, but yes, also with a movement that is so purely focused on victims of sexual injustice, there are people who are belittling it. It is negative that men feel the need to say “But I never did anything”, or “Why is she even complaining about that”. It is negative that I realized how few people were aware of the problem, even in my circle of close surroundings, and that I had to read statements like “They make a mountain out of a molehill”.
It is also negative that men are excluded. Not in sharing a #metoo, but in taking a stand towards the problem.
We cannot reeducate a whole generation. But we can start by not only making women responsible for speaking about it, but even more importantly by making men reflect on their behavior. I will believe that not everything that was experienced as sexual harassment was intended that way – jokes or comments maybe (obviously, rape or molestation is not included). But saying “I didn’t mean it that way” doesn’t solve a problem. Men reflecting and reconsidering their attitude towards women before approaching them would be the first step in the right direction.
What is difficult about the #metoo movement?
Every woman interprets sexual harassment differently. I would say it is not (only) about the action of the man, but even more importantly about the way it makes a woman feel. An example: Men can look at me in different ways, one might be genuinely interested in me, look at me with respect and thereby create a comfortable and secure surrounding, in which I am in control of handling the situation. Another man, although not differing much in what he says and how he behaves, might look at me like he would look at an object, already undressing me in his head. – One time I feel fine and am happy about the attention, one time I feel uncomfortable and nervous. From my experience, the two unequal encounters commonly end in quite different ways. Man 1 will, if I tell him so, leave me alone without making a huge fuzz about it. Men 2 will get angry and call me all sort of names like (quote) “Ungrateful bitch who hasn’t been fucked properly for too long” – to give a real life example.
The difficulty lies in not being able, and in my case also not wanting to, define what sexual harassment can cover, because it is a deeply personal matter. Others however, will not miss this “chance” to use the argument against the movement and it’s implications, because (quote) “then soon everything will be counted as sexual harassment and no one will be picked up anymore”.
That’s a pretty stupid thing to say: first of all, it belittles women (again), by implying “she is not even able to identify what sexual harassment is, why can she have a say in this”. And secondly, women aren’t stupid:
- We do know how someone approaches us
- We do know how someone treats us
- We do know how to distinguish between genuine attention and sexual harassment
Is a woman who goes out to meet someone new, to engage in casual sex, to maybe meet a new partner automatically signing a contract that gives every man the entitlement to her attention or body? Absolutely fucking not. Which is why there is a huge difference between approaching someone and sexually harassing someone – I can’t believe that this still has to be said.
It’s not that difficult, guys. Women don’t owe you anything. Girl, no one has the right to treat you in any way different than you like it. Even if you had sex with 20 men in one room, man #21 wouldn’t have the right to touch you, if you don’t want it – no entitlement!
Dates, flirting and making out shouldn’t stop – it can be fun, engaging, acknowleging.
Sexual harassment hopefully will stop – soon!