On this episode of not enough is being done about misogyny and our society is too advanced to be stuck in patriarchal control, my classmates exhibited a fundamental misunderstanding of what sexual assault is.
Our class has a guest every week that either comes into our class or joins us via Skype. This past week, our guest was a radio host who owned her own show on ESPN and has spent quite a few years in the media business. One of the things that I loved the most about her was her candidness when talking about the sexist side of the industry.
She shared with us an incident in which a colleague of hers was working the late night slots and it was only her and a male co-worker. Her co-worker not only thought it was appropriate to expose himself to her, but also took it upon himself to place his man part on her shoulder. For whatever disturbing reason, a good chunk of my class thought that was hysterical. It wasn’t.
Being a career-oriented woman is already hard enough because we have to work twice as hard to have half of what a man has. We also have to work twice as hard just to be taken seriously — which still isn’t enough most of the time — and many times we’re seen as more bitchy than a leader, even if our male counterparts do or say the exact same thing. For a man to think it’s okay to put his genitals on a woman in a professional setting (or any setting for that matter) is bad enough, but it’s disgusting when people find it funny.
The United States Department of Justice defines sexual assault as, “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” This woman did not want her co- worker’s penis on her shoulder, and yet he did it knowing that. That is an incident of sexual assault, and people found it to be so damn funny.
I don’t think that woman found the incident to be funny like my classmates did, not then and more than likely not now. This is not an isolated incident. Hollywood has been on a roll of exposing movie and television giants such as Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein and most recently, James Toback for taking advantage of women who just want to do their jobs. These are not isolated incidents.
Our own president thinks it’s okay and takes pride in grabbing women by the pussy and was accused of several women during his campaign of his unwanted sexual behavior. He was still elected. I don’t give a damn if the video was over 10 years ago. He never apologized. He brushed it off as locker room talk. He felt no remorse for the traumas he induced. He. Was. Still. Elected. He’d probably think the incident we were told about in class was funny too.
There’s absolutely nothing funny about unwanted sexual behavior. There’s no justification for it. Do not automatically dismiss women who finally come forward of lying just because the person they’re accusing may have been your childhood hero on television, or is your celebrity crush, or is your brother, father, cousin, uncle or any other relation to you where you will be tempted to produce some sort of excuse for them committing such a trashy crime.
Enough is enough. I’m tired of women not only being disrespected, but laughed at when they’re disrespected. As always, my email is open for those who need clarification; I think many of you need it.