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.