In my past there was an incident where a man in a very senior position explained how I was soon going to have data flowing down my throat, which he demonstrated with a gesture mimicking himself jerking off into his own throat, mouth wide open.
I was deeply uncomfortable and grossed out, but honestly I was unsure if he understood how truly heinous that gesture seemed in a closed room with a female mere feet from his nasty face.
I never had much contact with this man, so I can’t be sure if something like that would have happened again. He is a highly conservative, very religious man who holds President Trump in high regard. Making assumptions, I’m guessing he’s not on the lookout for inappropriate behavior in the workplace. However, this also doesn’t mean he had ill intentions here.
Incidents like this aren’t easy to articulate, and I feel the Me Too movement still hasn’t given us a clear answer on how to handle this stuff. Does he deserve to be fired for doing something like this? Does he deserve to be reprimanded? Should it even be mentioned if there is no other indication of harassment? Is it simply a question of him being completely clueless of his own actions?
The thing is, I NEVER hear men tell stories like this. I have never heard a man tell a story anything remotely like this. I am guessing that even if this disgusting gesture was completely accidental, he would somehow refrain from performing such a gesture to another man.
Ultimately, I didn’t do anything about it. From my perspective at the time, there was nothing I could have done about it. Even though it’s my belief that he didn’t intend to harass or offend me, I still felt grossed out every time I looked at him and always wondered if there was more to it.
In day-to-day life, I don’t believe Me Too has changed much for the average American working at the average company. Most men don’t believe they’re at fault, because they would never assault or rape someone. And it’s true – most men wouldn’t. But I haven’t witnessed any real action to get men to understand how uncomfortable it is when they make jerking-off-down-your-throat comments. You don’t have to be a rapist to be inappropriate and make women uncomfortable.
This is where Me Too has failed. Anyone and everyone lost their livelihoods in the face of unchecked allegations, and it’s a shame because it’s a serious problem that still needs serious conversations.
Photo by Mihai Surdu via Unsplash