Recently I had the displeasure of watching Matt Damon explain the degrees of sexual harassment in terms of a spectrum ranging from criminal to just part of life. After watching I was pretty sure of two things: first of all he’s probably never been sexually harassed and second of all this isn’t an uncommon stance on sexual harassment.
Now I’m not saying that EVERYONE thinks that way because I know plenty of people who don’t share that opinion, but it’s the people who think that some sexual harassment is just par for the course that worry me. I have been sexually harassed at work before and it may have never gotten physical, but I was still left with my skin crawling and I felt very violated. I’m not saying that there isn't a spectrum or that rape and verbal sexual harassment are the same kind of abuse, but both need to be treated seriously.
In the eyes of the law many forms of sexual harassment cannot be prosecuted and I’m not endorsing prison time for catcalling, but just because you don’t send cat-callers or verbal sexual harassers to jail doesn’t mean that nothing can be done; we need to call out the behavior and there should be consequences. Because there is a spectrum of sexual harassment, the punishments will be different in severity, but all harassment should be punished. I have been told more than once by men and women that “locker room” talk and sexual comments aren’t a big deal, but I promise you that it is a big deal to those on the other end of them. Donald Trump is not an excuse for sexual harassment or racism or sexism or anything else. He may be president but if he jumped off a bridge would you jump off a bridge too? The fact that I have to actually ask that is ridiculous. I’m not naïve, I know that there are people who do bad things in this world, in this country, however, I really had more faith in human decency before the election of Trump. Many people have said that this issue is really important to them because they have daughters, sisters, mothers, but why do you need to have women in your life to justify fighting for women? Why isn’t the argument that sexual harassment in the workplace needs to be eradicated because we all human beings?
Sexual harassment occurs to people of all genders which further proves that it is a human problem not a women’s problem. I try not to rant in my articles to the best of my ability, but I cannot stay silent when my fellow human beings are dealing with harassment of any kind and people are saying that it’s part of life. It is not “part of life”, it is a behavior that has been ignored to the point where we actually believe that we deserve to be treated this way and that pisses me off to no end, and even more than that, it makes me sad and disgusted by my fellow human beings. When I was sexually harassed at work I didn’t tell my boss what was happening or even my family because I thought that I should just deal with it and I know now that no one should feel like they should just deal with it. We need, as a society, to tell people who have dealt with or are dealing with sexual harassment that it is not their fault, they don't deserve to be treated that way, and that we will take action against perpetrators.