This week’s column is a departure for me. It concerns a topic that is in no way a joke. Because of this, i decided to forgo the humorous photo accompaniment.
Thanks for your time & attention.
There are two different kinds of men.
There is that guy that you’ve been hearing about in the news. The one who puts his words, or hands, or various other parts where they’re not welcome. The one who sees women the same way a bear with an itchy back sees a tree trunk—as a useful, convenient device to impart the desired sensation.
A tool; no more, no less. In their world, these men are the center of the universe, and others are simply bit players to advance his own narrative. Other people are not really people, they are held in the same regard as his electric razor, laptop, or leaf blower.
And then there is every other man; the vast majority of men. This is the guy to whom it would never even occur to act in this way. The guy who instead of excited would feel sickened by the maneuvers of the perpetrators. The guy who believes what comes out of power is responsibility, not opportunity.
But there’s an unfortunate consequence to this non-predatory mindset.
It’s hard for them to accept that there are men who engage in this activity. They don’t understand the psychology because they don’t think that way.
This behavior is not about sex. The point of their twisted game is to provoke feelings of weakness and submission in their prey. They get a rush from invading the life and poisoning the emotions of someone they consider weaker than themselves. It’s the proof they require to demonstrate their own superiority.
The method that is very often employed is one that makes it next to impossible to speak out. It’s a darkly brilliant maneuver that can transform the predator into the victim. It also explains why the behavior can go unchecked for many, many years.
A body part is touched, or grabbed, or brushed up against. But in such a manner that can be explained away as an accident. It was due to a stumble, or the jostling that occurs in a crowd.
A comment or demand (“Smile!”) is voiced. But on its face, it’s an innocent remark meant as pleasant conversation or sincere admiration.
The person on the receiving end of this subtle violation is no dummy. Calling out the provocateur will result in two things. First denial, then accusations of malevolence, greed or insanity. They did nothing and are now the target of the archetypal crazy woman. What do you expect from an unbalanced, hysterical female?
This slick method has been employed on me.
Years ago, I was sitting in the backseat of a small car with an employee of mine. A group of my coworkers and I were going out after work. This guy, normally someone I liked and got along with, brushed his arm across my body. It was the classic “Oops” tactic. But we both knew it for what it was.
I calmly told him that I’d consider it an accident, but he only got one. And, if it ever happened again I would render him capable of singing soprano, but incapable of fathering children.
There was a little half-hearted protest from him, but he never “accidentally” did it again.
The spontaneous decision I made that night about handling the situation worked partly because as his boss I had some power that I was able to reassert. And, as a normally easy going, nonconfrontational person, he knew I wasn’t joking around.
But it’s very different when it happens to a twenty-year-old intern, and is coming from a boss that holds mighty sway over her life. It literally becomes the cost of doing business.
So, if you wonder why people don’t speak up, it’s because the perpetrators are really good at this. Just because nothing is said doesn’t mean nothing has happened.
Thanks for your time.