Wednesday, January 10, 2018

me too

The French actress Catherine Deneuve has set off a storm by saying that #metoo has gone too far. She feels that it reduces the normal give and take between the sexes.

Let me say that I am a feminist. I have been sexually harassed from the dentist who wiped his hands on my almost non-existent 12-year-old breasts to the boss who was going to make sleeping with him a condition of employment. He was replaced for other reasons within days before I had to act. I had another boss who constantly told dirty jokes, of which about 2% were funny. Two of the men my mother was dating at different times made a pass at me. One company where I worked, made warning about the CEO part of the orientation process for women employees.

As a pre-teen and teen I wasn't sure what to do. I kept it a secret. As a single mom, who needed her job, bad behavior added to the stress of having too much to do, too little time to do it in and not enough money to do it with. 

On the other hand, one place where I worked, I started dating another employee who was slightly higher in rank. My boss, a lovely older man, a mentor in the full sense of the word, had said, "Bill, you're single. Donna-Lane is single," and left it at that. We did the rest on our own. In today's world this would not have been acceptable and we would have missed out on an overall pleasant experience even if it ended.

This morning I asked my husband if he felt funny complimenting a coworker about her appearance. He said when he did, she thought he was hitting on her. That's sad.

Years ago I was going up the stairs at the Central Square T station. A man passed me and said, "I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but you look great in those slacks." They were burnt orange. He continued walking and I never saw him again. I didn't feel insulted. In fact, I'd been having a bad day, and he made me feel a bit better. Today that would be unacceptable. 

Had he followed me, tried to get information about me, that would have been scary.

I don't think Deneuve is totally wrong. There should be room for flirting and compliments without pressure. At the same time there should never be room for forcing one self on another or making another person uncomfortable, especially when there is a power difference. 

It is never acceptable. 


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