Home Editorials Calling out sexual harassment

Calling out sexual harassment

by PRIDE Newsdesk

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Every day reminds us that generational  practices of sexual harassment by men, especially powerful men, are no longer going to be tolerated  by women. We have witnessed a plethora of powerful men accused and nationally scrutinized for misusing their position by making unwanted sexual advances toward women. The media has taken to exposing allegations of sexual misconduct or improprieties. Even well known men have been publicly indicted. These allegations consist of inappropriate and unwanted sexual comments, unwanted touching, and even rape. It has taken  liberating events occurring in recent years for women to feel comfortable revealing their abuse by powerful men. They now feel they are literally being heard and taken seriously.

There is no excuse for a man or a woman to use their position to sexually harass anyone, especially by threatening their victims with retaliation for not consenting to their sexual advances. This is a problem that has existed since the beginning of time in a male dominated world in which women have had to adhere to submissive and subservient roles.

Well, welcome to a new day! Things have changed significantly. What some men may have at one time thought was an acceptable, macho  practice is now entering a new day governed by new rules. There seems to be no statute of limitations concerning allegations from victims.  If you were to address all the men truly guilty of  flagrant acts of sexual abuse and rape you would  have a virtual sea of perpetrators. The men catapulted to national attention and scrutiny doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.

However, out of fairness, we must acknowledge  that many men grew up in an era when they felt comfortable complimenting and flirting with women. In fact, many women doted on that attention. We must realize that now if compliments   or casual acts like hugs or kisses on the cheek  make a person uncomfortable,  you could be accused of sexual harassment or similar improprieties. The act of sexual harassment can be viewed as subjective, depending on whether the  victim likes you or dislikes you. In a way, it’s a bit sad now. Casual signs of endearment can be interpreted according to how someone feels. Acts of showing innocent affection might be considered inappropriate now.

Now there are blatant and indisputable displays  of sexual harassment that can only be taken as  disrespectful and degrading and by no means should be accepted. The culprits should be addressed, reported and reprimanded-–even incarcerated. But we must not be blind. We must not dismiss that it only takes a handful of women (for whatever reasons) to falsely report allegations of sexual abuse to make it difficult for those who were truly sexually abused or raped. We may be sitting up a slippery slope. Vindictive women could claim untrue and inappropriate allegations, alleging innocent men are guilty.  That puts men in the ominous positions of being considered guilty even when they are innocent. The abuse of false allegations can be damaging to the reputations and careers of those who may be innocent.

Whether we like it or not, we have lost a little part of our innocence when subtle signs of affection   such as hugs and kisses on the cheek can now be  interpreted as sexual harassment. Where do we go from here? Signs of affection are now taboo or under attack. Everyone is not trying to make someone feel uncomfortable. They may just be manifesting what they feel to be signs of affection or love.

The actions of some immoral men may have changed the playing field of relationships by penalizing innocent, decent men or sometimes  women from legitimately, sincerely or innocently showing signs of love and affection.  You must also  look at the women who have falsely accused men of sexual misconduct out of spite and vengeance. This makes it hard for the women who have truly  been sexually abused or assaulted to be taken seriously and believed.

This is truly a new day, especially for men in addressing women without putting themselves in a position to be accused of sexual improprieties. Go forward exercising caution in how you address and interact with members of the opposite sex.

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