I’d like to apologise to gay men for today’s post as I realise the scenario I am about to unfold is highly unlikely, but it’s the best I can do. So here’s the thing: a while ago after Donald T***p had come out as a predatory crocodile with his talk about grabbing women by the p***y and after women the world over had called him out on normalising sexual assault, a man I happened to be talking to (a friend of a friend) began to opine that being grabbed by the genitals was a fairly minor affair. Before the argument could get out of hand, he’d been shushed by our mutual friend and we got on with having dinner. But later, I began to think about how one can explain how it feels to such a bloke. How do you get this across? Because saying, ‘imagine if a woman were to grab you by the d**k’ just doesn’t cut it. That situation is not the same because the power relationships are not the same – and that’s exactly the point. To grab a man by the genitals might be construed as a come-on; to grab a woman by the genitals, quite apart from being painful, is not only an assault but an assertion of power; even of possession.
So, the best I can do to convey what the Donald Trump ‘genital grab’ might be like for men, is as follows:
Imagine you work in an office where the Big Boss is gay. He’s aggressively, flamboyantly gay and if he fancies you, you’d better watch out. Don’t get in the lift with him, don’t bend over anywhere near him and don’t do anything that might be misconstrued as encouragement. At all costs, avoid being in the same room with him.
Now, imagine that despite your precautions – wearing high-necked shirts and loose-fitting suits and never, ever making eye contact – the Big Guy takes a fancy to you. He is so arrogant that he thinks because he fancies you he has a right to do something about it; so he calls you into his office so he and his colleagues can have a good look; he gets you to run errands and whenever you pass in the corridor he makes personal comments like ‘my, you’re a big boy aren’t you?’ Every day he swings by your workstation and hangs over your chair to look at your computer screen, all the while making suggestive comments.
Of course your instinct is to get the guy in a dark alleyway somewhere and deck him. But that would be unwise; because first of all this guy is powerful. He works out and could probably deck you first; and then you’d be out of a job. But even if he doesn’t, he never goes anywhere without a couple of henchmen, so you’d be mad to try. You could always change jobs of course, but chances are in every workplace your boss is going to be a horny aggressive gay guy.
So that gives you some idea of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of workplace harassment. And once again I apologise for the analogy – but it’s the best I can do.
PS in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the #metoo campaign someone has come up with a much better idea. Men: don’t do anything to a woman which you wouldn’t be comfortable with another man doing to you – in prison.
That does it for me.
5 thoughts on “Sexual Harassment? Nein Danke”
Someone female who shall remain nameless once grabbed my genitals at a party in 1988, and those genitals would be male BTW. I had just complimented her hair in what was intended to be an expression of platonic admiration, and touched it in doing so, so she may have interpreted that as sexual harassment. My interpretation of the situation at the time was that she was attempting to communicate how it felt to be sexually harassed but I later decided I was probably wrong about that. I felt uncomfortable and somewhat invaded by it but it didn’t become a major issue between us as far as I know.
Make of that what you will.
Actually, that’s a good analogy. It’s not about the fact that the guy is gay (or that homosexual men even act like this). It’s about the power imbalance and the fact that he has the means to act on it. That’s what you’re trying to illustrate here, and I think that comes across loud and clear. Well, to me anyway.
Thanks, that was exactly the point
In addition to a power trip, I read a sense of “entitlement”, as if this caste of people think they’re entitled to treat someone else like that. I can only relate to this sort of behaviour through some of the stuff that went on during my time at high school, by and between both girls and guys. Some would find it funny, others humiliating. The end result for me is that anyone that carried it out or found it funny lost respect, in my books. I’m baffled how someone who could and should lose the respect of others can end up in a position of power. But maybe it shows why, in this day and age, such a person might be in a position of power.
This is very true. Perhaps Donald T was the school bully. It’s like Dudley Dursley being President