We need to remember, in this time when we are overwhelmed with news of men transgressing against women and other men, that if we ever hope to see change we are going to need to make changes. To be sure, we are experiencing a flurry of definitions of what constitutes sexual harassment. Many are solid, some are a bit of a reach. A man who asks a woman out a second time in a respectful way and after a period of time has elapsed since being turned down isn’t guilty of sexual harassment. We need to avoid the temptation to trivialize the trauma being incurred by banning all second date requests or some other arbitrary yet insubstantial standard.
For the many men who do cross the line and transgress, I believe we need a dual focus. Most importantly, we need to hold them accountable and ensure their victims get the help they deserve and need. All of us are responsible for undertaking this crucial task. We must hold people accountable and recognize that looking the other way makes us complicit in that behavior. In the long view, however, we need to look at how offenders, of whatever kind, become offenders. Sexual harassers through serial rapists share one thing in common. They have a distorted view of both sexuality and power that most often arises from them having been a victim themselves.
This is not in any way an attempt to ameliorate perpetrator’s guilt or culpability. It is rather to say that we need to have an open and honest conversation about sex and power, about what consent is and who can legally consent to sexual contact, about a truly healthy masculinity as well as healthy sexuality for everyone. Until these take place, we will keep spinning on this merry go round amazed that the view never changes.