Trump's vulgar and offensive treatment of women reminds me how ill-equipped some of us are to handle unexpected, unwanted advances. All too often it catches us off guard when we encounter a creep. We do not expect it and we just want to pretend it isn't happening. We might be afraid or really, really embarrassed. We may not fully understand why we freeze up. We just want to get away without getting manhandled or hurt. For whatever reason, we often let such "bad manners" pass. Then we go on with our lives, a bit diminished, dehumanized, and worse for wear.
When I was a young woman, in the late 1960's and early 1970's, there was a burgeoning feminist movement. We attended assertiveness training events to learn how to speak our minds. In my early days as an office worker at Cornell University, there were actually assertiveness training workshops offered to women at work! I learned so much from attending those workshops. This may sound odd to younger women.
You have to understand how it was in the bad old days. Girls were raised to be nice, kind, and obedient. We were taught good girls put the needs of others before their own (even though that put us at risk of being abused or taken advantage of). Furthermore, a lady was always polite and did not yell or call attention to herself. I think you can understand how desperately we needed remedial training to learn how to protect ourselves from creeps!
Like so many other women, I never wanted to be aggressive. Let's face it, aggression IS creepy. Although feminism made me want to be strong, resourceful, credible and respected, I absolutely did not want to become like the creeps. I'm still down with that! (I always hoped feminism would influence men to become more like women.) That is why "assertiveness" was such a welcome concept to many of us. Becoming assertive allowed us to be strong without subscribing to a primitive definition of strength we did not admire.
When I became a manager I received additional training to help thwart sexual harassment in the workplace. A key dynamic is that a woman needs to be crystal damn clear she is not interested. Any meekness, hedging or hawing, or embarrassment will NOT be interpreted as a well mannered rejection by a creep. It will be interpreted as consent or (believe it or not) interest. Apparently creeps think differently than the rest of us.
The next time I see my granddaughter I am going to tell her the most important word in the English language is NO. She needs to get comfortable saying it, along with other things like "Please stop, this is making me uncomfortable," or "I'm not interested," or eventually "Seriously, do I have to call the police?"
I will also tell her not to pay attention to any of the unkind things a creep might yell at her as she walks away. He's a creep, remember? He will not mean it personally, because he won't even think of her as a person. That is why she will be walking away.
|WHAT did he just say?|