Fuck you Morrissey.
In light of Morrissey’s recent interview with Der Spiegel where he pedals hate about “not very credible” sexual harassment claims and abhorrent views on multiculturalism, I’m finally going to write about #metoo and not just because of Morrissey’s dickish views but also because of the views of a male panel on Have I Got News For You where the female anchor (Queen Jo Brand) had to explain to them that multiple low level offences leave women feeling under siege, alongside many conversations I have heard recently, generally between men, where sexual harassment claims are dismissed as attention seeking behaviour and Lena Dunham’s recent dismissal of claims based on the alleged perpetrator being her mate. Imma stop you there, and here’s why.
Morrissey says in his interview (which for clarification was google translated from the original German interview and so may not be grammatically correct) that, “Anyone who has ever said to someone else, I like you, is suddenly being charged with sexual harassment.” No mate, that is not sexual harassment. And yet, this seems to be a common misconception as I had a conversation with another guy yesterday who declared that everybody would be asexual in the future because nobody is allowed to look at each other anymore. After he mansplained sexual harassment to me for twenty minutes, I asked him if he would listen to me and my experiences for five minutes.
Working in the service industry seems to make men feel that they can take any (and every) liberty with you. The man I was speaking to yesterday is capable of having a laugh with female staff and both parties know that it will go absolutely no further than that. And because he would never dream of making sexually inappropriate comments or touching somebody, he couldn’t understand that some men don’t think that way. And no, it’s not a high percentage, but at least 10% of men that I have served throughout my career in the service industry, have been inappropriate in some way. In fact, it’s probably around 10% now, because I’m older and absolutely ferocious these days, but when I was 17/18 it would have been much higher and I was not able to challenge it at that age.
The male justification usually seems to be that I was being soooo friendly. Being friendly is not flirting. Being friendly is literally me just doing my fucking job. And flirting is not the only step between meeting you and sleeping with you pal.
I have been followed to the toilets by a man and had to have a member of security remove the guy. I have been followed most of the way home by a man who was probably older than my Dad. I’ve had men come up behind me when I am on a break and start massaging my shoulders. I’ve had my arse touched, slapped, pinched. I had my tits grabbed. I’ve had men stroking or pulling my hair to get my attention. I’ve had men try to kiss me. I’ve had a male manager block the only door in a tiny office, essentially trapping me inside. WHILE I AM WORKING. That’s just the physical side. The verbal side of sexual harassment is even more prolific.
As I told these stories, the guys face fell. His jaw literally dropped and he was incredulous that men could think that this behaviour was acceptable in any way, shape or form. Which then becomes part of the problem. Because for weeks, he has also dismissed claims of sexual harassment as being attention seeking behaviour or punishment for a man who had dared to say that he liked a woman. That is not the problem here, the problem is when a woman says, “thanks but no thanks” and is still relentlessly pursued. Or when there hasn’t been any form of permission requested at all.
Men: listen to women’s stories when these things are talked about. Don’t just assume that because you wouldn’t do it, nobody else would. Educate yourselves about what is happening, there are some links below.
Challenge conversations where people dismiss these claims by taking the concept too far (ie, everybody will be asexual blah blah blah blah blah).
And to everybody, don’t feel that you have to share your stories, you don’t. You can see it everywhere.
Take a look at Jo Brand very calmly putting an all-male panel on Have I Got News For You to rights here http://bit.ly/2yHxY6M.
Or this article in the Guardian on research by the Everyday Sexism project about how over half of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the UK, http://bit.ly/2aKCNBx.
Alternatively go straight to the source and visit the Everyday Sexism website here http://bit.ly/2aKCNBx where you can find thousands of women’s stories.
And if you’re into Podcasts and like laughing loudly on public transport until people move away from you, have a listen to The Guilty Feminist and look specifically for the two episodes about Weinstein culture. http://guiltyfeminist.com/