Last week, I attended a press conference in Rochester. At the event, I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, and went to give him our usual hug. I sensed reluctance, but I have long been a hugger of friends, so I dismissed what I was sensing. After we hugged, he confirmed what I’d suspected saying, “With everything going on, you have to be careful these days.
I had a moment of confusion, then understanding. Then I became disturbed, although I understand his caution.
I exclaimed, “We’re friends,” not as a dismissal of his concerns, but as reassurance.
Yesterday, I attended another meeting, and I had a sense of the world shifting. People of different genders were more wary of hugging and kissing on the cheek, although they had done so in the past. A lot of comments and uncomfortable jokes were made about Garrison Keilor, Matt Lauer and others.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic, because I have my own #MeToo tales, and because of recent stories unfolding in the news each week. I’ve thought about it enough to want to write a word of reassurance for some, and warning for others.
My husband has commented on several occasions, “It’s a bad time to be a male.” I want to reassure him, “No…it’s a bad time to be a predatory male.”
You see, there are good guys out there and there are predators. Predators beware. The hunters are coming for you.
But I want to reassure the good guys: There is no fine line. There is no fine line between hugging and groping. Both parties know the difference. There is no mistaking the unwanted advance. Whether on the giving or receiving end, no one confuses an accidental or awkward hand brush with a genuine grope. One doesn’t accidentally expose oneself or one’s private parts to another, and citing Big Bang Theory‘s joke, it is indeed rare to stumble and fall into a woman’s “lady parts” (or a man’s male parts, for that matter). Drugging someone for sex is never consensual.
I want to say to those men who may be feeling anxious about being misinterpreted, “You know. You really do know whether your actions could be perceived as predatory. Women don’t go around accusing men of treachery without justification. And women really don’t possess the bully/crowd mentality so that when they see one woman singling someone out, they just jump on the bandwagon for the thrill of it.
How can I be sure of this? Because in today’s society, when a woman says #MeToo, much of society is still quick to wonder whether she’s A) telling the truth, B) simply a “gold digger” looking for money or attention, and/or C) how she “brought it on.”
Who, in her right mind, would purposely leave herself open to that type of scrutiny without justification?
For those men concerned about having actions misinterpreted, I say “trust your instincts, trust yourself, trust your friend.” You really do know whether you are giving cause to be considered a predator. If not, proceed as usual.”