I was taught from a young age that sexual comments or actions toward a female were just one of those facts of life. Like getting your period, your only option was a accept it. A boyfriend once told me “guys are dogs.” Referring to his friends, our friends. When we were 17 a classmate’s father told her: “If a dog starts humping your leg you don’t get mad, just push it away and ignore it. It’s the same with guys.” At 17 I thought that was great advice. At 47 I’ve come to realize it’s not. It took a while. In college when I first saw women refusing to accept harassment I thought “who does she think she is? I’ve dealt with worse and never complained.“ Time went on and I realized how uncomfortable I was around certain men and pretty soon almost all men. It seemed like even the men who were not making inappropriate comments or actions were still accepting that behavior as normal.
One day a younger friend of mine was complaining about some harassment she had endured. I responded with the typical “what are you gonna do, men are dogs. “ Her response has stayed with me, echoing, for a long time. “We should hold them to a higher standard” she said.
I’m not here to blame the victim. Even when we’ve come to expect bad behavior from men it still shouldn’t be excused. Men are NOT dogs. They shouldn’t behave like them and we shouldn’t ever accept that behavior when we see it. I’m not just talking to women. Men shouldn’t accept that behavior. When that boyfriend told me years ago that guys were dogs what he was really saying is “I’m not going to stand up to those guys, so I’ll just warn you instead. “ And you women who think you can grab some guy because “what the hell, they do it to us” are no better. It’s time we stopped accepting sexual harassment in ourselves and others. It’s time to hold everyone to a higher standard.
Things got a little better after a few days. The kittens recognized my position as…