With her “Letter to the Guy Who Harassed Me Outside the Bar” , Emily Heist Moss makes me briefly wonder, not for the first time, why all men haven’t been murdered in their beds by an organized feminist vigilante posse. The conduct she describes is disgusting and infuriating just to read about, and I don’t even have to experience it.
The amazing thing is that this kind of ritual harassment would vanish with some slight behavioral additions to our culture, many of which once were the norm, habits of good conduct like etiquette, manners, consideration, civility, fairness, kindness, respect, and the Golden Rule. They could become cultural norms again, and rather easily, I would think, with an increase in responsible parenting, a responsible popular culture, and the development of role models with integrity. Not featuring serial and unapologetic sexual harassers as stars of sitcoms (Charlie Sheen) and political conventions (William Jefferson Clinton) would help; so would a serious effort by Hollywood not to trivialize workplace harassment as cute or amusing, as in the long-running “Cheers,” or in current TV dramas like “Criminal Minds” and “NCIS.”
“You were a harasser, the guy they make subway posters about, the guy who contributes to rape culture. Ask your female friends, if you have any, if they’ve ever walked home late at night with a key pushed through their knuckles, just in case, if they’ve ever crossed the street to avoid a stranger, just in case, if they’ve ever taken the long way home because of the weird guy on the corner, just in case. Ask them if they’ve ever made up a boyfriend to get a guy to leave them alone, if they’ve ever gotten off a train car and moved to the next because you just never know, if they’ve ever shelled out for a cab because men like you were at the bus stop. Do you really want to be that guy?”
Not only are a disturbing number of men, young and old, “that guy,” a shocking number of them either don’t realize they are “that guy,’ or don’t see anything wrong with it.
Yup…murdered in our beds.
Read her whole piece here.
Then send it to that jerk you know.
Yeah, that one.
UPDATE: Amptoons has an interesting commentary on this essay as well, which you should check out here. As Barry (The 2012 Commenter of the Year!) is wont to do sometimes, he misreads my point and implies that I am arguing that sexual harassment is worse now than it was in “the good old days.” In fact it was worse then: go see a production of “How To Succeed in Business…” sometime. Many of the norms of the past would certainly help today, however, like teaching boys that you don’t stare at women in public, and that you are always polite to everyone in social discourse. (Just because they were norms doesn’t mean they were followed by everyone, or were everyone’s norms. The men I observed in Boston’s North End, a traditional Italian neighborhood, certainly had a different idea of how one showed respect to a woman than I was taught, for example.) Manners and basic social graces have declined, but the toxic sexism and gender discrimination of the past more than overwhelmed some of the cosmetic benefits of chivalry.
Source: Role Reboot
Graphic: The Daily Andy