We talked about #MeToo last night.
We talked about how, yes, sometimes there is a joke. Sometimes there is a banter. Maybe those things are ok, maybe they’re not. Maybe there is gray space.
There is also a line.
The line is crossed when a female child walks through a mall and is looked up and down by older males. Or when her mother has to point out what is happening and teach her that it is wrong, but isn’t empowered to confront or defend her in public.
The line is crossed when that child is ashamed of anyone telling her she’s pretty because it draws those unwanted stares.
The line is crossed when she’s a young lady that is labeled a ‘prude’ because she’s unwilling to give into the sexual advances of her classmates.
And, when she’s nicknamed ‘jail bait’ by her work-study coworkers.
The line is crossed when she’s forced to leave school because her male teacher is uncomfortable with her sweatpants and t-shirt.
Again, when she is groped by strangers at sporting events while the crowd roars for a score.
And again, when a stranger takes photos of her butt with a cell phone. All the more so when the bar, bouncers and police will do nothing to stop it.
The line is crossed as she walks to her car in fear while being heckled and harassed from a group of guys behind her.
And, when a coworker insists on going home with her.
And, when she’s held against a wall and called a ‘bitch’ for fighting back.
Maybe there is gray space – but as someone who has been there, there is most definitely a line. I’ve been fortunate to defend myself without being hurt. Even more fortunate to have amazing friends – male and female – that step up on my behalf. There have never been repercussions for the offenders.
It’s a line crossed by a president saying he’d ‘grab her by the pussy.’ And an executive making unwanted advances. And a celebrity whose actions are magically forgotten. And a collegiate rapist that goes completely unpunished.
It’s a line crossed by an entire society telling her she’s too uptight before, ultimately, looking the other way.