Confronting Sexism Head-on

By now it’s apparent to anyone who follows this blog (or perhaps, Meerkat Musings) that I don’t like religious interference in peoples’ lives. I am all for people having faith and believing in God – just don’t throw it in peoples’ faces and expect people to live by religious rules that they don’t share. Also, don’t use your religion (or misuse it) to justify bigoted or sexist positions. The most recent case in point? This.

I think this article manages to lose focus of the big picture almost immediately. It is critical of a culture where men apparently can’t even look at women – but that isn’t the issue, and it never was. The article starts out by talking about how infamous former FOX news correspondent Bill O’Reilly was sacked for sexual harassment – and the article even goes on to discuss that his behaviour was inappropriate – which it most certainly was – but it then goes on to sort of suggest that women invite that sort of behaviour.

I quote:

What I’m questioning is whether it’s sexual harassment if a woman wears suggestive attire and a man checks her out. Is she getting the desired results – namely, male attention – or is this a form of sexual harassment?

Where do we draw the line here? I am a man – I am guilty of noticing if a woman I find attractive walks by wearing something that could be deemed revealing. What I have never done is felt the need to comment on it, be it on the street or at work. How would my female colleagues have felt if I’d said they looked pretty? I have no idea. What’s more important to remember here is that when they’re getting ready for work, they’re wearing what makes them feel empowered – why the assumption that they are wearing anything for the benefit of men?

Perquita Burgess, one of O’Reilly’s accusers, claimed he “would come by her desk and would leer at her up and down. She felt like he was looking at her cleavage and it made her feel uncomfortable.”

If true, was this harassment? Perhaps it’s one thing to glance and another thing to leer? Or was she displaying her cleavage for all to see? I’m simply asking questions.

If he was indeed leering at her – and given his track record that’s certainly plausible – then that crosses a line. Noticing that she was looking pretty in whatever she was wearing is one thing – actually coming over to her desk to look her over, with her no doubt being very conscious of that fact – is a different matter completely.

What about this behavior? Can a friendly compliment be construed as sexual harassment (unless it was part of a larger complex of inappropriate comments)? Or is this just one more, exaggerated reaction from our hyper-PC culture in which almost everything is construed to be sexist or racist?

What the conservative right suggests is an overreaction is actually more akin to people becoming more aware of inappropriate comments and behaviour. It was (and in fact still is in many ways) socially acceptable to regard women as objects, and racism and homophobia are still present even in the West, but more and more we see people drawing attention to it. It is becoming less acceptable. This can only be a good thing.

The article’s author cites several Twitter comments, from women, as evidence that women need to have more self-respect – yet wearing outfits that are comfortable, and expecting to not be leered at, or shamed for it, is apparently too much to ask.

I found this article via my old ‘friend’ from Theology Archaeology. He speaks of justice. Let’s see what he has to say:

We do not like the fact that Mr. O’Reilly and others have received in justice because some women cannot accept the fact that they need to dress modestly. We do not like the fact that people are fired first when other options are available that would bring true justice to the issue and solve the problem with fewer people being sent to the unemployment lines. Trying to please a group of people or defend an honor does not serve justice but personal objectives and that is wrong.

This argument demeans women and also, for that matter, men! I recall my hilarious exchange with a MGTOW earlier in the year, who suggested women invite harassment (and worse) through how they dress. Bill O’Reilly was incapable of exercising self-control, and for this, the women he harassed are somehow at fault?

timonannoyed2

Yeah, nah.

The Bible tells us to dress modestly, so that is the key. This does not mean, as one woman put in that article, putting on a burka. It does mean to cover up as one does not sin nor lead others to sin when the dress for work or play. Women who use the burka example are part of the problem as they are being unrealistic in their dress code demands and refuse to accept the correct definitions for the term ‘sexual harassment’ and want to apply their own ideas to the term.

Not everyone believes in the Bible or its teachings, but that’s actually beside the point. That argument excuses men from their responsibility to treat women as people, rather than objects. It suggests men are crass animals, unable to control themselves at the exposure of a woman’s flesh.

Women are not innocent in this issue and they must bear a lot of the responsibility when men do things they do not like. Sexual harassment is not always termination of employment worthy and believers need to do the hard work and make sure justice is applied to this issue even when women do not like how justice comes out.Making complaints is not to serve the purpose of getting revenge, something women do a lot and it is an attitude that needs to be erased for that is abusing the justice system for one’s personal vendetta. It is just as wrong as any crime.

timonannoyed

No, just no. This is classic misogyny 101. Stop telling men that they are only partly to blame for harassing women. Don’t assume women are making up stories or exaggerating claims of harassment. That’s a gigantic copout, an excuse to ignore the issues.

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14 thoughts on “Confronting Sexism Head-on

  1. Our Christianity is one that is founded on two principles: “men and women have different roles, men lead their families and the church” (complemetarianism) and “men are easily tempted to lust, so the Bible tells women to dress modestly to prevent their weaker brothers from stumbling into sin” (modesty.) The theory goes, if a woman dresses modestly enough, then men won’t lust and they won’t commit sins in their hearts. My youth pastor took my youth group through Every Young Man’s/Woman’s Battle, which has a chapter about modesty: you can read it here (http://www1.cbn.com/family/dressing-to-impress) It seems to suggest that men respond to the way that women dress, and it’s an either/or scenario, either you turn them on or you turn them off, either you get their attention or they pay no attention to you. So you can see how a woman gets blamed if she gets too much attention or a guy responds the wrong way to a woman’s wardrobe. So that’s why “What was she wearing?” Pops up as a frequent explanation for whatever happens to young women. (I like this video that flips it and shows that doesn’t work the other way around either: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51-hepLP8J4 )
    But in my experience, it doesn’t matter what a woman wears. Some men just feel entitled to act however they please and they have no sense of boundaries or personal space. We have a few problem customers who attend Christian churches one or two days out of the week, and will each pay the girls an inordinate amount of attention, hitting on them even though some of them are married, and are just creepy. I think it’s more of the result of the teaching that men have authority and they get to make the rules to do as they please. They tend to create rules telling women what not to wear rather than practice any self-control or discipline. They also aren’t exactly respectful of women in general; but why should they be, when they make the rules and they never made a rule telling them to behave themselves?

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  2. I find your article above to be misrepresenting the issue and trying to draw different lines of right and wrong, good and evil, moral and immoral for both men and women. You think women get a free pass on God’s standards but they don’t.

    Your double standard is showing and only supports your hypocrisy not anything that is right. Women have a choice and they know when they are dressing wrong and inviting the wrong behavior. They need to be rebuked for their entrapment of men and their own hypocrisy. Women cannot expect to dress provocatively and not be told they are doing something wrong.

    Your comment about how believers cannot expect those who do not share their values to follow those values well that argument goes both ways. Those who reject God’s ways cannot expect those who accept God’s ways to act according to their principles. Those who reject God’s ways are wrong not those who accept them.

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    1. I find your article above to be misrepresenting the issue and trying to draw different lines of right and wrong, good and evil, moral and immoral for both men and women. You think women get a free pass on God’s standards but they don’t.

      I don’t think women get a free pass. I merely apportion blame where it lies – if a man harasses a woman, the man is responsible – your position effectively lets the man off his own responsibilities – it encourages him to think of himself as the poor, helpless victim of biology. Women face immense social pressure to be appealing to men, and yet when they ‘dress to impress’ and become the subject of sexual harassment (or worse, in some cases), it is suddenly the woman’s fault. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t wash with me.

      Your double standard is showing and only supports your hypocrisy not anything that is right. Women have a choice and they know when they are dressing wrong and inviting the wrong behavior. They need to be rebuked for their entrapment of men and their own hypocrisy. Women cannot expect to dress provocatively and not be told they are doing something wrong.

      Define ‘dressing wrong’. What is the point where men are held responsible for their actions and deeds, rather than the woman being held responsible for the man’s actions?

      Your comment about how believers cannot expect those who do not share their values to follow those values well that argument goes both ways. Those who reject God’s ways cannot expect those who accept God’s ways to act according to their principles. Those who reject God’s ways are wrong not those who accept them.

      If God’s ways in this instance allow men to harass women and bear no responsibility for their own actions, whilst suggesting women invite it, then there is something seriously wrong. It is wrong to expect women to be the guardians of male behaviour – and wrong to suggest that men are weak, debauch creatures that are unable to exercise self-control, and excused from their responsibilities to treat women as human beings, not objects.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Again you like to twist the argument so you do not have to confront your own fallacies and unsupportable arguments. The standard for right and wrong dressing has been established for centuries. The only ones who have a problem with that standard are those who are rebellious and do not want to follow the rules.

        No one has even come close to stating what you said in your last paragraph. The woman is held responsible if she purposefully chooses to dress in a provocative and immodest manner.

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      2. The ‘standard’ for right and wrong over the ages hasn’t prevented women from getting raped, assaulted and treated like second-class citizens for centuries. The mere suggestion that what a woman wears someone makes her responsible for the actions of an attacker is victim-blaming at its purest.

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  3. Funny that all of the Biblical modesty rules are placed on women, despite the numerous verses decrying men from looking at women.

    Matthew 5:28 – ” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    1 John 2:16 – ” For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.”

    1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 – “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;”

    I could go on, but it’s besides the point. Women do not dress for men is the start & finish. Regardless, each of us was given free will. Women can control how they dress; it’s up to men to control how they respond.

    Also, their final conclusion is erroneous: firing O’Reilly wasn’t the first response. They were given five chances to do something about the behavior – that’s how many lawsuits the “news” organization settled.

    Besides, firing someone of retirement age with a severance package of nearly 2x the amount paid to his victims is hardly sending O’Reilly to the “unemployment line.” These people are quite infuriating. >.<

    Liked by 2 people

      1. You might be technically correct – no one has said verbatim that men are exempt from modesty rules.

        What I’ve said, however, is that the Bible instructs men – with no indication to what the woman in question might be wearing – that it’s their responsibility to control themselves. Should a woman “transgress,” (by whose definition, I’m still unsure) it’s still on the man (in this case, O’Reilly), to behave himself with decorum. Mr. O’Reilly failed to do so.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A few points or, at least, my opinions:
    On religion:
    Firstly, just because a site related to a faith mentions something doesn’t mean it’s based upon religious tenets, so your position on this is flawed – based upon the citation – from the get-go.
    Secondly, as previous comments substantiate and imply, this is life, not a sport. In life it’s not the acceptable practice of “drawing the foul;” it’s enticement. Therefore, the woman is guilty of her part of the sin, though this doesn’t from anything I’ve studied through decades of studying the Abrahamic faiths’ doctrines excuse or mitigate the sin of the man or men in question.
    Really, from a religious standpoint or, more accurately, some of the modern interpretation thereof, this is the real sexism, the sexism of lowered expectations for men. Hell! Feminists should be happy since it places them in the power position, with the capacity, if they shirk their religious duties, to damn men’s souls with a flash of (insert part of choice based upon sect)! If it “excuses” men it because they are treated in this regard as children would be, with women being “the adults in the room.”
    On the more secular front:
    Firstly, you make a gross assumption. You assume that provocative dressing by women is empowering, not a means to grab power through the use of their flesh. There’s absolutely no basis for that assumption unless you’re going with the postulate that women so inherently different from men that they would never consider doing whatever they feel is either necessary or expedient to get their way.
    Secondly, your making a purely gendered, e.g., sexist, conclusion since it’s obvious that you don’t consider that women do the same thing as men when it comes to a “well-presented” body of their preferred gender. It’s also a inaccurate conclusion from my personal, anecdotal experiences – then I “dress to impress,” both to adjust the man-v-man dominance metrics and to attract women for the sake of building and maintaining a powerbase in my workplace.
    Thirdly,
    Lest we argue over what is merely a lexiconic chasm, what is “harrassment” to your mind? What you wrote doesn’t make that clear to me or, if you prefer, I can’t understand what you mean by it as you used the term.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment. There are a few things that I didn’t find clear…

      <blockquoteFirstly, just because a site related to a faith mentions something doesn’t mean it’s based upon religious tenets, so your position on this is flawed – based upon the citation – from the get-go.

      If you could clarify this please – the suggestions put forth by the site Theology Archaeology and the link that site provides the strong suggestion that it is based on religious, specificially, Christian ideals. A lot of things – particularly religion – are subject to interpretation – but the author of Theology Archaeology has struck me as being, if nothing else, a devout follower of the Bible, to the point where it is treated as a literal document. I certainly have no doubt that the author believes his arguments are rooted in the Christian faith.

      Secondly, as previous comments substantiate and imply, this is life, not a sport. In life it’s not the acceptable practice of “drawing the foul;” it’s enticement. Therefore, the woman is guilty of her part of the sin, though this doesn’t from anything I’ve studied through decades of studying the Abrahamic faiths’ doctrines excuse or mitigate the sin of the man or men in question.

      With respect, I have to disagree. The very idea that a woman is even partially to blame for this sort of action automatically mitigates the man. I am not suggesting this is your personal view, but this is the sort of attitude that gives rises to blaming the victim in rape cases – ‘the girl led me on’ sort of argument. When any religious, cultural or societal idea suggests the woman is somehow to blame for being harassed (or worse), even partially, it absolves the man of responsibility.

      Really, from a religious standpoint or, more accurately, some of the modern interpretation thereof, this is the real sexism, the sexism of lowered expectations for men. Hell! Feminists should be happy since it places them in the power position, with the capacity, if they shirk their religious duties, to damn men’s souls with a flash of (insert part of choice based upon sect)! If it “excuses” men it because they are treated in this regard as children would be, with women being “the adults in the room.”

      I don’t think feminists consider this scenario empowering in any way. They don’t want women being oogled as pieces of meat and don’t want men to be treated like children who are incapable of exercising sensible judgement.

      Firstly, you make a gross assumption. You assume that provocative dressing by women is empowering, not a means to grab power through the use of their flesh. There’s absolutely no basis for that assumption unless you’re going with the postulate that women so inherently different from men that they would never consider doing whatever they feel is either necessary or expedient to get their way.

      Might there be some women who exploit the system, as it were? It’s plausible. But that’s a long way from the institutionalised expectations on women to both look pretty and yet somehow be held to blame if they get harassed. If sexual harassment doesn’t happen (and it shouldn’t, regardless of how the woman is dressed), there is no means for any woman to somehow profit from this. More importantly, it sends the message that men will not be excused, even partially, from their misdeeds.

      Secondly, your making a purely gendered, e.g., sexist, conclusion since it’s obvious that you don’t consider that women do the same thing as men when it comes to a “well-presented” body of their preferred gender. It’s also a inaccurate conclusion from my personal, anecdotal experiences – then I “dress to impress,” both to adjust the man-v-man dominance metrics and to attract women for the sake of building and maintaining a powerbase in my workplace.

      I refer back to my previous paragraph – if the implication is that women can sexually harassment men, I don’t deny that. If the implication is that women can admire the male form, I don’t deny that either. Women can and do operate in the same ways as men – in some cases. The difference is scale. Instances of female-on-male harassment are not as widespread as male-on-female harassment. Women are expected to shoulder the blame when they are the victim. Women are expected to somehow wrap themselves around competing social and cultural ideals, that tell them (in almost the same breath) they are to avoid tempting poor, uncontrolled men, who cannot exercise restraint, and then tell them they need to dress sexy. Men do not face the same type of social pressure.

      Regarding the final paragraph, to my mind, harassment is groping and touching, unwanted suggestions of sexual activity, and blatent staring. I am a man. I will ‘notice’ if a woman I consider attractive walks into my shop. If I stood there and gaped at her, or tried to stare down her top, or kept leering at her… well, I think that would be unreasonable on my part.

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  5. Sorry for the second comment in short order, but I just thought of something pertinent to the specific case.
    Full disclosure: I worked for 5 years as a high-placed individual within Newscorp, though not directly within Fox News.
    One issue with O’Reilly’s alleged behavior is that the women in question were not responding to O’Reilly’s rules; they were responding to the less than satisfactory to me and MANY of my fellow Newscorp employees dress codes that Newscorp placed upon it’s female personalities. These women, if they wanted to keep their position – I assume this is case – had to dress somewhat provocatively. That would make O’Reilly’s behavior disgustingly opportunistic in my personal opinion.

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