KNOWING WHEN TWO THINGS AREN’T THE SAME

If a guy grabs your ass and you remove his hand, tell him he’s a jerk — and that’s the end of the story — is that the same as a 32-year-old attorney-general groping and threatening a 14-year-old child?

I have been raped. I have been groped. I have been propositioned. I have been abused. Despite this, I can differentiate between these events. All things are not the same thing and they shouldn’t be to anyone else, either.


When everything is the same, nothing means anything.


As an adult, getting groped — sometimes by guys too drunk to remember what they were doing — and telling them to cut it out  — was not a life-and-death issue for the young adult me. Getting raped was a lot more serious, but I got through it. Abuse as a child was entirely different and it took me the better part of a lifetime to get over it, if indeed I really have.

You can’t make everything the same without ultimately making it all meaningless. If we are going to punish equally for every inappropriate,  thoughtless move, or bad joke by any guy to any woman, it all becomes a meaningless jumble. Men won’t know what’s okay and what’s not — assuming they know it now, which many obviously don’t — and in this case, not unreasonably. Punishment is supposed to fit the crime. And that means, there ought to be a crime involved. A stupid joke in bad taste is not the same as a threat — and most assuredly is not the same as rape or attempted rape.

Let’s make some meaningful definitions. Let’s agree that something any normal adult woman can handle on her own, probably isn’t criminal. Stupid for sure. Embarrassing, no doubt. Annoying? Absolutely. But when no one is threatened, no one’s job is in peril, there’s no harm implied or done — you can embarrass the guy, publish the story on your Facebook page. Confront him and give him a piece of your mind — but I don’t think you need a jury and a prison.

All activities by men that aggravate, annoy, or disrespect women are not the same. Bad taste and bad jokes may be disrespectful, but disrespect isn’t criminal. Poorly worded comments are also not criminal. We have all said things that came out wrong and which embarrassed us — even when we weren’t trying to say anything much at all. If you use that as a gauge, the whole thing becomes ridiculous and in the end, no one will take any of this seriously.

I know the difference between criminal and not criminal. So do you. Use your brains. You have to leave room for people to be people. To make mistakes, to say the wrong thing, to make a bad joke, to have an embarrassing scene. That’s just life.

There has got to be room for people to be just plain silly or stupid without it being a felony — thus leaving room for actual crimes to be taken seriously.

34 thoughts on “KNOWING WHEN TWO THINGS AREN’T THE SAME

  1. Great post! I suspect (and it’s really depressing) that we’re too late in the ‘use your common sense and don’t be quite so freakin’ sensitive’ arena…the PCers have won the day (apparently). EVERYTHING is fair game for a law suit, someone screaming about being molested or someone feeling entitled to wail to anyone who will listen about their hurt feelings. I have had to learn to just keep my mouth closed in most public venues any more because my sense of humor is not something that most other people find amusing and yeah, it might just be that tiny bit in bad taste. But I’ve suffered the REAL thing (like you), REAL abuse, REAL rape and it mostly pisses me off when some idiot crawls out of the woodwork mewling about the fact that their boss is a dimwit with no boundaries, who commonly tells bad jokes (racist, sexist or whatever) and expects everyone of his/her underlings to laugh heartily at them. Worse is when some shit for brains takes that kind of thing to court because they were offended. There is a fine line between speaking up or just walking off when something offensive is being bandied about, and suing because one’s feelings got pinched. We need more common sense in the world and sadly it’s just getting rarer and rarer to find ANY.

    Liked by 5 people

    • It isn’t even PCers. It’s a lot of people who really don’t seem to recognize the difference between a criminal act and something which is merely annoying, aggravating, etc. And I fear, a lot of people with NO sense of humor at all. If I applied these standards when I was dating, I would never have gone anywhere with anyone. We were kids. We were stupid. We said stupid stuff. We though we were great wits and what we were was awkward, nervous, and we REALLY wanted to be liked. We had some unfortunate ways of getting attention.

      If we want to fix a real problem, this isn’t the way to do it. When you throw all this fluff in with the serious issues, it all becomes junk. Stupid.

      And yes. I KNOW the difference between serious and a fly to be brushed away. I’m sure so do the people involved in this. I have to wonder how many are looking for a payout. I don’t like to think that way about other women, but it kind of looks that way to me.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Embeecee, I appreciate your comments. I think Marilyn’s blog is obviously well said with excellent timing. We’ve shared stories about our professional lives and male-female workplace relationships. My 31 plus years in TV newsrooms provided a kaleidoscope of scenarios which are now under scrutiny. There’s no “fake news” about some of the stuff that transpired.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. None of this matters as long as the groper in chief is not tasked to pay for behavior he has admitted to. I don’t understand this AT ALL. And you’re right. Child molestation is NOT sexual harassment of an adult co-worker who can say, “Get the fuck away from me.”

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I agree completely with what you wrote. All bad acts or inappropriate actions are not the same. And taking responsibility for having committed an inappropriate action and apologizing is a lot different from denying the bad act and calling the accusers liars. Also, it seems these days that there are different reactions to and/or expectations based upon whether the doer of these bad acts is a Democrat or a Republican.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Assault means just that. You get touched, firmly, sometimes it leaves bruises, sometimes it goes all the way to rape or more. You feel a hand on your butt or breast in a crowded subway car, nothing you can do but just get away. If it’s your job on the line, yeah, you do stuff about it.

    Harrassment is not assault of the physical kind. It involves words, images, a barrage of language and/or threats, entreaties and “would you mind if I undressed right now?” type stuff.
    No bodily fluids are exchanged

    I think we have confused the two, deeply.

    I still think that any man who asks a terrified woman if he can unzip himself in her presence and masturbate really comes very close to assault with a deadly weapon. It’s the degree of it that counts, in my book. Not the fact. “Hey, baby” isn’t assault. Groping a waitress (because you’re the boss) in the kitchen is.

    Until now, anyone who has been fondled, propositioned (‘it’s your job, you wanna be nice to me…”) or mishandled has known to her shoes that most of it will be written off as ‘too sensitive” and “get over yourself’ and she’s left feeling as if she overreacted. So she swallows it and keeps moving.

    It’s position of power, it’s about control, it’s because you can.

    I think more women will come forward, some with a hurty paw (real or imagined) and some with serious allegations now that they realize they won’t be written off as tramps or old maids with too much time on their hands. They have been given permission to speak out about this. What I also see is men finally understanding that it is NOT okay to pull this crap, and women finally understanding that, too.

    To be fair, some women will set a man up and then cut him down afterwards, just because she can. I can think of two of those, and Im not going to get into a pissing contest about it, but it does happen.

    By and large, however, this is real. What really hurts is seeing someone like Charlie Rose apologizing, admitting he was wrong, and losing everything he worked for all those years.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think most of it is real and some of it is nonsense. We have all met predators and there’s a huge difference between predator – non-predator. Maybe it’s the threat. I had a friend who had her own way of dealing with subway mashers. She would grab the hand, hold it up in the air and scream “WHO’S HAND IS THIS? WILL THE OWNER PLEASE COME AND REMOVE IT FROM MY ASS?” There’s something about a full car of cackling commuters that puts things into perspective.

      My point is that you can’t tar everyone with one brush. If you do that, in the end, no one will take anyone seriously. There are serious issues out there. There’s a lot of actual, real rape — date rape and home rape and family rape. There are also a lot of women who’s working lives depend on their being “cooperative.”

      If I had lived by these rules, I really would NEVER have gone out with anyone. You need to have your own wits about you and the ability to say NO and mean NO. And you also need to make sane choices about the men with whom you interact. I know girls who have an absolute knack for choosing guys who are just on the edge of criminal and they do it over and over. They don’t seem to get that these are not good guys and they never will be.

      Not everything is a crime and I think we DO know the difference. But many things ARE a crime and are NOT punished. I think there needs to a clear understanding where one ends and the other begins.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Pingback: KNOWING WHEN TWO THINGS AREN’T THE SAME — SERENDIPITY – Patience of Willow

  6. Oh way too much to say in a comments box but really good post, lots of great responses. Thanks for taking the time to highlight what shoud not be a confusing issue.

    The one thing I will say though is there does have to be room for an individual’s reaction to an act to be different from another’s reaction to the same kind of event. It’s about degrees and relativity and intention and unfinished healing, etc.

    It may seem an obscure comparison but in my practice, I have found myself saying this one thing to Vietnam Vets over and over. They STILL have PTSD but they can’t admit it because they were not “wounded” and some, did not even see “action” l but were simply there…in the potential pathway of destruction. That’s like saying the kid who never got beaten in his family was not also abused. The only thing that happened to him was he saw his brother or sister or mother nearly killed, repeatedly, by his Daddy’s own hands.

    This is NOT in defense of opportunists jumping on a convenient bandwagon. I’m just saying I really wish there were ways to address these issues individually instead of the “one size fits all” method. We, as women know that right there is a LIE.

    two cents worth…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have no argument with that. But I think to be fair, war and dating, while there are some similarities, do also have substantial differences. Are there women so sensitive, so fragile, that being told an off-color joke will cause them serious emotional damage? Seriously? Being attacked and not raped vs. being attacked AND raped I think could very well feel much the same. It’s the assault, the helplessness, the fear, the threat that doesn’t change, regardless of the “end result.” But women who are more or less regular people and work in the world and live amongst other more or less normal people — there’s got to be a regulator that gives them a functional understanding of the difference between something serious and something NOT serious.

      Maybe I’m giving too much credit to women as sensible creatures who are more in touch with life than our male counterparts — but honestly, I’ve always found women to be both earthier and far more practical and sensible than men. We are always “older” than men our own age. We are more grounded. We are more in touch with ourselves and other people. Upbringing and DNA and quite likely, the possibility that we just might bring other creatures into this world. I expect better from women than from men. That may be a flaw in my own thinking, but I have always been able to count on the women in my life. So when I see this kind of fluttery, neo-Victorian silliness, I wonder how these creatures managed to grow up in this same world as me.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I so agree, Marilyn. I too have been a victim of child molestation, rape and more and I too know the difference. It astounds me how people are so willing to jump on a bandwagon. Is there any common sense out there? I sometimes wonder. I wrote about “Hollywood” a few days ago, and basically that’s what I was trying to say in my long winded way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think those of us who were genuinely assaulted are VERY clear on the differences between getting annoyed and being attacked. I suspect some women aren’t really clear on the differences … or just want to be part of the story. The problem is that it makes it that much harder for those who were seriously hurt to be believed. It isn’t a game. There are far too many victims ignored for too long. This is an opportunity to make inroads on understanding between men and women. I’d hate to see it come to nothing. Again.

      Like

      • I so agree, Marilyn. It angers me because when something really terrible happens, its sighed at and either not believed, or “just another story” or people get tired of hearing it and turn off and that’s the moment taking heed is required. I HATE that! No, it’s not a game, it’s serious as are the long term consequences! I don’t know about you, but I can look at someone and know! Just know! There are signs that can’t be ignored that if you’ve suffered, you automatically see understand and are aware of.

        Like

  8. This kind of appalling behavior has been a joke and an embarrassment for decades, going back even to the old ‘casting couch’ scenarios of the 30s and earlier. Very few women escaped without some kind of damage.
    And, I suspect quite a few men got caught in it too, at a time when actors were considered hetero right across the board…it is an effing mess.

    Like

    • This has been giving my husband a lot of food for thought and not necessarily happy thoughts. He was certainly never an assaulter, but now he’s wondering about everything, not only what HE did, but what his colleagues did … and even what some of the women did. He’s been brooding about this for days.

      Show business is different. I have seen women push Garry across a room using their breasts as ballast … and they knew I was right there. What did they do when I WASN’T there?

      What were they THINKING? Assuming Garry was the kind of guy who’d be interested — not likely given his essential shyness — his wife was standing a few feet away. A lot of show business women are awfully aggressive and I’m pretty assertive. They leave me far in the dust.

      Do they understand the potential implications of the stuff they do? There are victims — but some victims made a choice to be victims and are offended when they don’t get taken up on it. It’s a weird business and there are many things about it I find super extra strange.

      Like

  9. This has been such a strange time. I’m not sure this is going to stop since they clearly haven’t read this post and can’t differentiate between these very serious issues. Every day I think I’m going to hear that everyone who has ever been bumped into in an elevator have joined together and there is a class action suit against Otis. I’m not making light of any of the serious allegations, but some of this is beyond crazy.

    Like

    • I keep telling Garry that by the time we get to the Oscars, there won’t be any men to take them. Maybe Emmys too. People who have nothing to say should really shut up. This whole thing is giving me a massive headache. This OUGHT to be an opportunity to make some progress in an area that desperately needs progress made — but I think it’ll wind up all smoke and mirrors. Again.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for this, Marilyn. You’ve said what I’ve been thinking but couldn’t say because I HAVEN’T been abused, so ‘what would I know’.’
    Some little boys never grow beyond the ‘poo bum wee’ stage they enter at about 6, and it manifests itself later as inappropriate ‘jokes’, slaps on female bums etc, which is pathetic, juvenile and irritating but not criminal. You could also say it’s sexist and disrespectful, but I always think that’s their loss, not mine. It demeans them more than it demeans me.
    There is a very large pit of sexual abuse and abuse of power that needs to be excavated and prosecuted, but if every woman is going to pop up with every inappropriate event in her life, the real monsters will be buried in the deluge.

    Like

    • Which is EXACTLY my point. it’s hard for me to believe that the women themselves don’t know the difference between “no big deal” and criminal abuse, assault, rape, professional harassment … we really DO know. People who have nothing useful to add should please shut up. But they won’t shut up. They think it’s some kind of publicity stunt and they ruin everything.

      Like

Talk to me!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s