To hear some guys tell it, the world has become an unforgiving minefield. One misstep, no matter how well-intentioned, can cost you an extremity, leading to the complete ruination of your professional and private life. This transformation of the collective landscape was rather sudden, they claim, and it was ushered into existence by the strength of the #MeToo movement. Now all men have been painted with a broad, negative brush, these guys complain, and it’s difficult to know where to safely step considering how irreversibly the world has been changed.
*Insert concerto for the world’s smallest violin.*
That was lovely music, wasn’t it? Now, let’s address some of the aforementioned concerns.
I’ve actually heard a variation of the above cascade of male tears dozens upon dozens of times since Harvey Weinstein took his abrupt nosedive from grace, and a parade of other men followed suit, their creepy skeletons dancing out of the closet as though on cue. Here are some of my favorites:
How can men ask women out on dates without being accused of sexual harassment?
Is flirting not allowed anymore?
Should I ever be alone with a female colleague?!
And so on.
These are presented as legitimate concerns from seemingly earnest individuals. My first response is always the same: if you can’t tell the difference between flirting and sexual harassment, you are not safe for women to be around. Full fucking stop. And, further, if you view your professional life as one big dating game, with female coworkers playing the part of unwilling contestants, you are not safe for women to be around.
Look, I know it’s hard to be expected to take responsibility for your actions as an adult human male. In your defense, society has never demanded that you do that before. Women, on the other hand, are taught from a young age that they are responsible for the actions of men and boys. If you are sexually assaulted, what were you wearing? Did you say no? Did you mean it? If you are harassed at work, are you sure he meant it that way? Maybe it was a joke. Don’t you have a sense of humor? Also, what were you wearing? The responsibility for male behavior always sits on a woman’s (hopefully not bare, because OMFG) shoulders…but that’s changing.
Now blindingly powerful men are being held responsible for their own actions and y’all regular men are losing your damned minds, because if captains of industry can’t get away with this kind of behavior, what are the chances that y’all can grab asses without repercussions?! The male tears are ENDLESS. I have to be honest, I’m here for it, because it’s way past time that you joined the rest of us in Actions Create Consequences Land.
Let me be clear, you can absolutely flirt, and ask women out, and have close, fun, and appropriate interactions with female coworkers.
Here’s what you can’t do: take advantage of women in the workplace because you are in a leadership role. Treat women as though they owe you something sexually simply because you find them attractive. Blunder through life fueled on testosterone viewing women as mere conquests that you can win if only you push hard enough and refuse to take no for an answer.
Women aren’t here for your amusement. Women aren’t here to bear the weight of your unwanted sexual advances. Much like yourself, women are autonomous human beings with thoughts, dreams, hopes, and desires. If you treat women like the human beings they are, I think you’ll find that you can safely walk through the minefield of life without worrying about having your leg blown off.
If you are still confused and horrified at the partial loss of your masculine manifest destiny where women’s bodies are concerned, you are part of the problem.