“No.” A simple saying by men and women alike to universally communicate dislike, discomfort, or unhappiness.
Such a simple term should be easily understood by all, and usually is. In some cases, however, the phrase is ignored, and situations go too far.
In late 2017, allegations came out against powerful men who allegedly committed sexual assault against many women. The majority of the allegations were targeted at Harvey Weinstein, a famous Hollywood producer, actors, journalists, businessmen, etc.
The women who spoke up have started movements like #TIMESUP and #METOO. These movements are designed to encourage other women to stand up for themselves and speak out against men who wrong them.
The question now is: what counts as sexual assault, and what is innocent flirting?
Women are sexualized from a very young age. I remember the first time I got whistled at in public. I was 11 years old skipping down the sidewalk in front of my parents wearing a bright green tank top and white shorts. I had green glitter on my face and my hair up in a high ponytail because it was St. Patrick’s day. A pair of guys rolled up in their car and as they were passing me they stopped and honked and whistled.
I didn’t know what that meant at that point in my life, because I was so young, but as time progresses, small acts like that just grow.
In the workplace, too often men are those in charge. It can be hard for women to work with men who are their boss, because they might face blatant or subtle sexual harassment.
Some scenarios are perfectly appropriate, however, and women may overreact. A man giving a woman a compliment, holding the door open for her, or paying for her meal are some examples of treatment that should not be considered offensive, but now unfortunately often are.
At the same time, men should not be saying anything inappropriate to women or touching women inappropriately without consent.
A simple “you look nice today” could be taken in two different ways. It could be taken as a friendly gesture, or it could be looked at as flirting. I, personally, appreciate when someone tells me I look nice, especially if I put work into my looks that day. There is a difference between “nice” and “cute” or “hot”, however.
Compliments, gestures, smiles, glances, touches; all of these things could be taken a wrong way with no intention of being extreme. Of course if someone is grabbing a person’s butt in any way, that is not okay. But a simple one-second touch on the arm by a fellow coworker is fine as long as he or she removes the hand right away .
It’s all about consent and moderation. People need to work to discern that both are accomplished, without coming across as offensive.
As silly and simple as it sounds, keep your hands to yourself and treat others with the respect that they deserve as a human being. Sexual assault is no joke and people need to comprehend that it is NOT okay. Slowly, I think we are getting there.