The flame of a candle is one small point of light. One standard candle is estimated to give off 12.5 lumens. One candle shines brightly in a dark space, but doesn’t reveal much about that space. Each candle added increases the light, until every dark corner is illuminated.
There is a darkness that is being brought to the light from a surprising source, the political arena. Being brought to light is something women everywhere have to deal with, from the most progressive societies to the most socially repressive.
I am not going to try to make a judgement on the political firestorm, because it seems that everyone has already decided the importance of the language or possible reality of the sexually aggressive, bullying actions. I do want to do is share my experience with men.
I know many wonderful men. My husband, my father, uncles, brother, sons, cousins, many men I went to school with, and many men I worked with are all wonderful, respectful men. However not all men are respectful.
At age 12, greeting my uncle with a kiss after not seeing him for a long time, he made it clear that such actions were “asking for it ” and would deserve anything that happened. Our relationship was never the same again. After this I avoided not only this uncle, but men in general.
In Junior High School, a boy grabbed me roughly, and I couldn’t get away. Every boy in the school let him know this behavior was not going to be tolerated.
Sitting in a high school English class, a couple of boys were putting their hands down the blouses of some of the girls. Everyone was laughing, even most of the girls. If they came near me, not only would I clock them, but so would my marine boyfriend, his friends and every other male I called friend.
At age 18, I was talking to a fellow student about my brother studying Judo. My brother, several of his friends, my sister’s boyfriend, were all black belts. The man I was talking to said, “A man would have to be crazy to mess with you!” It was at that moment that I realized how important it was to be under the protection of the men in my life.
At age 19, two weeks after getting married, a man I had known for several months offered me a soda while waiting for my ride. I thought I knew this person, but found myself in a sexual situation that I was lucky to talk my way out of. Exactly the type of situation my Mother had warned me to never get myself into.
The next day he grabbed me, and wanted to press his case, telling me how I should be complimented by his attention. I informed him that my uncle was the head of the radiology department in the hospital where he was a resident, and if he ever came near me again, I would report his behavior and he would be out of the hospital.
I had more than one husband of a woman friend “make a pass,” and I have had to give up long term friendships with women when their husbands would not take no for an answer.
I’ve had to work with men who described their exploits and considered themselves a gift to women. They could not believe any woman would be serious about not wanting his attentions. These were men I had to be careful to avoid being alone with in the workplace, but they “did the job.”
Why complain? Nobody would do anything. It was just something women had to put up with. Men were the sexual aggressors, and women should be complimented. But no means NO! At best, we would warn each other of the danger.
Sexual aggression must be stopped by men. Only men can stop the locker room bragging. Only men can keep these aggressors in line, but only if they care about their wives, mothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, and other women they know and work with.