Ok.  I have a confession to make.  I really don’t think that all men sexually harass women.  And to go even further, I think that men often get blamed for everything that goes wrong, and that’s blatantly unfair.  (now- if it’s my husband we’re talking about, he probably should be blamed…remind me sometime to tell you the story of the kitchen floor)

So there you have it.

Why, you ask, did I say that the other day?

Because, sometimes you have to make a grandiose statement in order to get people to pay attention.

Because sometimes there’s a problem that everyone needs to work on in order to solve it.

Who is getting harassed, who is doing the harassing….it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that it stops.  And whether you want to call it harassment, or bullying…..it’s the same thing- People disrespecting one another- People watching others get disrespected and not doing anything about it.  People not thinking about what their words and actions actually mean.

So how do we stop harassment?

How do we stop bullying?

How do we stop disrespect?

I try to be the best person I can.  I try to model reasonable behavior so my daughter understands how to treat others.  I will say something to family members if I feel they are doing/saying something stupid (and if you knew my family you would know exactly how time consuming this is)  But I’m human, and I’m not always nice, and I’m not always respectful (especially to customer service representatives- I’m sure there are a few dart boards with my picture on them)

But back to the big picture.  We’re reasonably intelligent people (come on- you read my blog, so that makes you a connoisseur of the finer things) and I know we are teavhibg and modeling respect….but is that enough?  Because frankly, it’s not working.  Take Back the Night began like 40 years ago….have rape and domestic violence stopped or decreased?  No….they haven’t.   Let’s think this out- how do we stop harassment?



27 thoughts on “True Confessions

  1. Good question. I’d say that less violence on TV screens and movie screens would be a good place to start. Don’t normalize aggression. Then more attention to mental health, your own and other people’s would be something good to add. Then language. Use of said, realizing that words can hurt people. There are ways as a society that we can address this problem, but it has to be a multi-prong approach.

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  2. I agree that not all men harass women: I have been married to my first boyfriend for 39 years, and you can be sure that if he’d done anything like that, I’d have sent him off years ago. I’m also the mother of two fine young men who love and respect the strong women in their lives. But I think that one step toward stopping this kind of rape culture thinking is for the good men and the safe women among us to get a look at just how widespread this issue is. I don’t think that everyone out there quite understands the depth and breadth of this problem….

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    1. I completely agree with you….people are underestimating it. I think it is far more widespread than anyone can imagine. And yes, it only stops if people, all people, discuss it. I wrote yesterday about perceptions….how one person can feel harassed even though the other doesn’t think it is. It’s an individual thing, but at the end of the day we must learn to be more respectful and empathetic than we are. But, at the end of the day, we all just work towards ending harassment. Me too brought the issue out more, but now what do we do?


  3. Self awareness and empathy. I think there is a lot to be said for the old golden rule: due to others as you’d like done to you. And I think increasing people’s awareness and perception of lives unlike their own happening both in their communities and a far. My sister interned at a program for sex trafficked young women during grad school and so many people are “oh but that doesn’t happen here” and that’s BS. It happens everywhere. I think that “it doesn’t happen” here mentality gets applied to many situations including bullying, harassment and the like. and makes it easier for those experiencing it to feel isolated, alone and that they can’t talk about it. When people become more aware of others experiences right next door I think it makes it harder to pretend everyone lives the same life or your experience has happened to you alone.

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  4. Education, education, education. There is no substitute for it. Until men learn that women are their equals and not their chattels/playthings/possessions/slaves, then (lots of them) will continue to behave in the same way.

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  5. Completely agree with you here!! I don’t think all men should be tarnished with the same brush, especially since this doesn’t seem to be the most productive way of putting a stop to the problem. I do agree with the multi-pronged attack. One outlook is from psychologists like Baumeister, in his book Evil, suggest that (and I’m seriously paraphrasing) issues like an inflated ego are to blame and (as other psychologists like Dr Peterson have suggested) teaching humility might be a key to resolving some of these issues. There’s obviously other factors and solutions (Baumeister in particular looks into areas of generating self-control) Sorry if I’m rambling- it’s far from a simple issue and obviously there are many directions to take this.

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  6. To tackle this we have to start with children, small children. Right from the start they have to be taught respected and understanding for others, people and animals. Once this foundation has been laid it is an easy step to teach that bullying and harassment is wrong.

    Who will teach this to the children is another matter, the type of people who need this help very often come from families that themselves have not been brought up to respected others.

    Not sure I am making myself too clear here.

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  7. I think you recognize harassment when you are in another domain: for example, when I was in the Middle East and would walk by groups of men walking together, sometimes women were followed, ogled and harassed. It wasn’t uncommon to hear of stories of Western woman being groped and surrounded by men at crosswalks and this was in the UAE. The trick was never to put yourself in this situation but that meant staying in and not going out unless in a group. We can’t protect ourselves or our children but only let them know and try to watch out for one another.

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  8. Another domain which I believe has improved since I was in the military in the early 90’s and which I wrote about was being a woman aboard an ammunition ship. I met some wonderful military members and two who I was not prepared to meet. If I had grown up in a more urban environment, would I have been prepared for them? Possibly but maybe not. The trick is never to lump all of them together as men or women like this but to see everyone as an individual.

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    1. True….but I was on the train the other day (New Jersey transit) after an event that involved a lot of drinking. The things these men were saying were disgusting. Now….I was alone, so I wasn’t going to tell a bunch of drunk guys to be more respectful, but every one of those men were at the very least guilty of being complicit in harassment. We have to make sure men know what harassment is, because none of them feel they’ve ever done it

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  9. You’re correct. Not all men sexually harass women. My husband had two sisters, and he was taught to look after them and take care of them. His mom taught him to respect women. He’s very compassionate towards women, and it’s one of the reasons I fell in love with him. I think parents have to instill values in their children so that they have a foundation to stand on when they’re exposed to negative and disrespectful behavior in the world around them.

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  10. You know, I was reflecting more upon what you said and I thought of my brothers. I grew up in a household of men and I recall my brothers being pains…but never abusive or disrespectful to me or my mother or women in general. So maybe it begins at home with how the mother is treated and how she treats her sons.

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