Men, we need to have a talk. Again. Do you mind if I leave the door open for this one?
A survey conducted by the Barna group found that a disturbing percentage of people don’t seem to understand what behaviors count as sexual harassment. Out of 1,000 Americans who participated in the online survey, 24 percent of men thought that flashing someone didn’t count as sexual harassment. Nearly 1 in 3 men also thought that making sexual comments about someone’s body didn’t count, either.
In fact, even when presented with about as straightforward a definition of sexual assault as one could write up, “being forced to do something sexual,” 17 percent of men disagreed that that constituted sexual harassment. (As for women, 91 percent of them agreed that being forced to do something sexual counted as sexual harassment. The other 9 percent—girl, I don’t even know what to tell you.)
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only survey that suggests something is very, very wrong with the way men perceive sexual harassment in this country.
Another survey, conducted by Instamotor, asked 750 men about their experiences and perceptions with sexual harassment and sexual assault. About a third of respondents said that they didn’t consider catcalling to be sexual harassment. Two-thirds of men also didn’t consider repeated, unsolicited invitations to drinks, dinner or dates to be sexual harassment.
And nearly 1 in 5 thought that a man who sexually harassed his co-workers shouldn’t be fired for doing so.
Fellas (and some of you ladies and non-gender-binary folk, too), I want you to get a couple of index cards because we’re going to make this really simple for you. Just because you’re trash now doesn’t mean you have to be trash tomorrow.
On one card write this: “If they didn’t ask for it, don’t give it to them.” Write it in all caps, with a Sharpie, if you must.
Got it? Great. Now on the second index card, write, “If they did ask for it but want me to stop, then stop.”
Keep these cards by your bed. Look at them before you go to bed each night and first thing each morning. Don’t use them as coasters, for the love of God. And just refrain from touching anyone or making eye contact with anything, including yourself, until you’ve mastered this.
And if that’s still too much for you to get through your skull, just take a hammer to your damn head and knock yourself out.