YAY, good old Tavis – he is great at talking about real life, life between the lines of rigid definitions, and the victimizng impact that can result in either direction, when we have no feedback mechanism to engage involved parties in conversation, but rely on definitions too rigidly defined.
The real words we need to focus on are not legal definitions, from court cases long delayed, or words defined by any professional system, but more universal, broader standards of respect, kindness, support, gentleness, invitation – soft skills that can honor learning curves between adults from different generations, backgrounds, races, cultures, gender experiences.
So good, yes: raise awareness about what is sexual harrassment, that’s important, feedback is needed, to ensure respect, feedback from both sides.
But does the person have to be fired? Loose their job and reputation?? We seem to get so caught up in contrasting ideas about “right” and “wrong” in this country today, that we pay no attention to the damages inflicted during the arguments. We don’t question what consequences are best to help people grow, small scale, learn new behaviors – teach young women that they can speak up, and will get backup to say “no” – not insist that the person they said “yes” to – should be fired. A fine? Maybe, pay $50-100. Do that with any small instance – folks can learn with small but sure consequences.
Many people of all economic levels come from religious backgrounds of relative isolation – and find the process of learning communication across gender to be filled with some confusion, for the only lessons from church are often the “Thou Shalt Not’s.
Sometimes the other gender is terribly shy, and avoids giving any response, or says yest to trying to push themselves forward too fast, to avoid being left behind from experiences they see peers as having, or that seems nice when on a date. Sex is not a bad thing, it’s a dialogue, a non verbal one, that needs to proceed slowly in mutual responsiveness to the other party.
Today’s fragmented world, with generations separated and living far from each other, village stability replaced by communication by machines – doesn’t help with this dialogue, and so many use substances to ease the anxieties and appear relaxed:
I think this is a catastrophic mistake, for it leads others to THINK you are relaxed, that you mean what you say, but many find what I found growing up with parents who used daily alcohol: the next day, their warmth or promises of the night before, or even battles exaggerated by substance use – may not even be remembered, let alone honored.
I am very disappointed with PBS, for taking the word of one side in this whole subject, disregarding any effort to develop NEW ways, not just legally-devised ways – to create opportunities for opposing sides to speak back and forth, maybe with third parties, but sort out misunderstandings or disrespect, over many more settings than just once, with people they oppose.
Tavis is right – and it’s great that he is saying it. Monsterizing other people is no solution to any problem. It IS important that a woman can say “no”. But that did not used to be the case, communication was often not expected.
Let’s improve our relationships with respect and a repetitive, considerate process for more communication – among parties – maybe use third parties, not substance use to gloss over the problem. Find ways to facilitate exchange of real perspectives, often very much unknown to the other party. But facilitation needs to be done without the assumption that money equals power in all respects: humans are limited by their backgrounds, and we need to give each other respectful chances to learn.