Me, too! and Worlds Apart


"Worlds Apart" - (c) 2018 LM Neas

I have sat on the sidelines listening to the many revelations that have taken place since the "Me, too!" campaign began.  How heartbreaking to learn that so many people (both men and women) have been sexually assaulted or abused. 

However, in listening and watching, what I find disturbing is the McCarthy-istic trend into which the media seems to be heading. The desire to keep the news fresh and scintillating should not overshadow the responsibility of checking facts or remembering that people are innocent until proven guilty. 

What I am seeing happening is that leading news organizations, as well as tabloids found beside the check-out counters, are grabbing at every bit of inappropriate behavior, hyperbolizing much of it, ruining careers, and causing more pain and anguish.

Don't get me wrong. I believe that those who have used sex as a tool for power and gain should be held responsible for their acts. But, I also believe strongly that we do not want to go ambulance-chasing or witch-hunting; both of which have disastrous outcomes.

One thing that needs to be clarified, especially in this age of "political correctness," is that sexual abuse and assault are worlds apart from saying inappropriate things that may, or may not be, considered sexual.  In addition, trolling for evidence of such statements is akin to accusing every person that ever uttered an inuendo of harassment. 

Let me give you an example. I had a dear friend who was close to 90 years-old. One day, when I had a new dress on, he said, "Oh my, if I was only 30 years younger, I would be asking you out." 

Should I have taken that as sexual harassment? Or, was this dear man, who helped others all the time, simply giving me a compliment? Others might have taken it differently, but, since I knew him, had spent many hours with him, I knew it was a compliment - and innocent flirtation. 

What a horrible world it would be to be afraid to give compliments or to flirt with others. 

Flirting used to be a part of courtship. Often, the give and take of double-entendre has been considered a sign of intelligence and a quick mind. Unfortunately, predators and abusers have also used this to take advantage of others, feigning innocence when the victim called them to task. 

Consequently, there is ambiguity around every corner. When is it OK to compliment?  Who can say what to whom? When are terms of endearment no longer appropriate? 

The EEOC has given us guidelines. 

"It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. 

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. 

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. 

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). 

The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer."

We need to pay attention to what is happening with the revelations brought to light by the Me, too! campaign, not become lost in a cesspool, the likes of McCarthyism, the Salem witch trials, and other acts of defamation. 

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