Friday, December 8, 2017

Some Basic Rules of Engagement #MeToo

Given the current dialogue around the #metoo movement, I feel compelled to offer a bit of clarification about a few things that may still be confusing. Although this seems like common sense to me, the recent deluge of allegations about abhorrent behavior, combined with admissions by men in power, has led me to believe that there is value in making a few things explicitely clear. Note that this is my perspective, and I don't speak for all women (that's impossible). I will also add that I am a cis-gender, heterosexual female so I am keeping this to what I know - male/female dynamics. I recognize, however, that this goes well beyond gender and sexuality...

With that said, here are a few general examples of things to avoid - Seriously, don't do it.

1. Don't romantically or sexually engage anyone that is underage EVER. That's pedophilia.

2. If you are in a position of power, don't sexually/romantically engage with women that are directly affected by your power. I realize this sucks for those men that have broad power - but it goes with the territory. So if you have power, recognize it, and use caution. You may not feel that you have that much power, but those around you might have a different experience.

3. Don't attempt to coerce, force or otherwise convince a woman to change her mind to a "YES." Consent = YES. If she is saying maybe, or she's not sure, or no, or she doesn't want to, or it hurts, or whatever else she could say that is anything other than YES...well, sex is off the table.

4. If a woman blocks you on social media, don't attempt to track her down through other channels. Just let it go - she doesn't want contact, and it doesn't matter why.

5. If you are in a business relationship with a woman, and you invite her to dinner to discuss business, don't blur the lines between business and romance. The same is true if SHE invites you to a business dinner.

6. If a woman specifically says that she does NOT want a romantic relationship with you, respect her decision. If she says she wants to be friends with you (and her interest is NOT romantic), don't keep writing her messages about your desire for her...that's just creepy.

7. If you are married, and you develop feelings for a female friend...and if she has been clear about NOT wanting a romantic relationship with you - she wants to be your friend - don't use her as an emotional affair. Once again, respect her NO.

8. If you are alone at a venue with a woman you barely know, be attuned to her feelings. She might feel uncomfortable, or she might not. Practice empathy.

9. Don't EVER assume that you have a right to a woman's body just because (insert reason here). NO reason is sufficient for a man to feel that he has a right to a woman's body, including being married to her, already engaged in sex, swiping for a hookup, etc. If you are confused, ask. If it's anything other than YES, then back off. Oh, and don't freak out at the woman if it doesn't happen. Both men and women need to handle their emotions here, otherwise coercion can come into play.

10. If a woman tells you to back off, then back off. Don't keep trying to get the girl as if she is playing hard to get.

11. Don't send unsolicited pictures of your genitals. No, I am serious. That is never a good idea.

12. Don't repeatedly ask a woman to be your surrogate or carry your baby (a congressman just resigned over this)

13. Don't show porn to women in your office (a Judge was just accused of this). Don't post pornographic images in your workspace. Don't post pictures of women in bikinis either. And don't post videos of women with close-up twerking asses on the pages of female business colleagues.

14. Don't walk around in your underwear in front of employees (another congressman).

15. Don't grab/massage/touch a woman's pussy, ass, breasts, or any other body part without a clear YES. Thinking she "wants it" or she is "asking for it" is not consent.

16 Don't engage in any BDSM activities unless you've BOTH established the frame along with safe words. Both people need to be on the same page!

These are just off the top of my head and they are pretty basic. But some men might wonder what they SHOULD do beyond this list of DON'Ts...
Well, it really is quite simple.
Be human. Be kind. Have empathy. Communicate.
Get to know yourself. Think about how your actions would be perceived through the eyes of others.
Ask questions if anything is unclear.
And if the woman you desire doesn't respond positively to your straightforward and honest approach, then she may not be the one for you. In that case, move on.

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