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.