Men Of A Certain Age And Sexual Harassment
“Is this what growing into an adult woman is—having to predict and accordingly arrange for the avoidance of sexual harassment?”
It is true that sexual harassment won’t go away on its own. The focus on the problem is good.
For women of my age, it was an inevitable part of life, unpleasant but expected. As a female, I learned to adapt my behavior in order to prevent, avoid, ignore, and ultimately dismiss the unwanted attention.
As these experiences start to accumulate in your life, over time it becomes normal. You stop looking up when the construction workers yell and whistle. You avoid the men at work who call you honey and baby. You pass on the job when the person interviewing you puts his hand on your shoulder and leaves it there.
I’m sure that my mother and my grandmother had these stories. But my daughter does not.
How we interpret all the news about sexual harassment is generational. Grabby, gross guys in the workplace were inevitable and I am not shocked to hear about it. But my daughter has grown up in a different world. Her dad was involved in her upbringing. The headmaster of her elementary school and her doctors were women. More women are in college than men and equality was something she has always heard about it. My daughter will not tolerate the stuff that her mother and grandmother did and will speak up at the time if anything should ever happen. Her generation won’t wait decades to come forward with accusations. They were stunned by the Hollywood headlines, the length of time it went on and how long it took people to come forward.
I also think that to her generation harassment and assault are viewed in the same way- which is great for the future. But, I’m not going to make my voting decision based on which older candidate didn’t make an inappropriate comment to women. That was the world they knew and had learned from their fathers- just as my generation of women learned to keep silent from their mothers. It is not that these issues don’t matter to me. They matter a lot. But they are not disqualifying to me in a candidate that I think has the best chance to win the Presidential election.