Thursday, December 7, 2017

I'm Kind of Guilty of Sexual Harassment

Three times I have sexually harrassed men in my life.

I feel guilty about it.

With each incident, it was a total (100%) accident, and then there was joking around about it. Some of the joking came from me. Some of the joking came from other people. Some of the jokes came from my victims.

I don't feel guilty about the actual incidents, because they were accidents. I didn't do anything on purpose. 

I probably shouldn't feel guilty about the joking, because it was mostly about trying to make an awkward situation feel less awkward. And what if there had been no jokes? The guys might have felt I was trying to make a move on them.  Since the three of them are married...or at least common-lawed, AND I'm married, this wouldn't be a good thing.  

What I do feel guilty about is...

A) assuming that the men were okay and maybe not giving a genuine apology. They SEEMED to think it was all funny, but what if they secretly didn't?  What if, like many female victims we're hearing about, they were pretending to be amused but were really not?  No, I don't hold a lot of power over these men, but I can imagine men are very pressured to be okay with these kinds of things.

B) Trying to justify my behavior by saying it's okay because it happened to a particular type of person. One of the men has a history of being a bit of a womanizer, goes to Hooters a lot, etc. So I tried to tell myself it was totally okay that I accidentally harrassed him and then joked about it. But is it?  It's not that I could have stopped my action from happening, and I think it was probably okay that I made a joke about it.  But I should have stopped and considered that despite his past behavior and personality, he still might not have been okay with what happened.

C) the knowledge that things might be very different if I was a man and if I was powerful. What I did was, tickle a man's foot (hard to explain how that was accidental, but it really was. Try to believe me); almost groped a man's genitals while playing Pin the Tail on a Donkey; and fell on top of a man while trying to transfer from a boat to the attached raft.  

I think since I'm a woman and have no power over these men, it was all seen as comedic.  

What if, though, I was a male senator and a woman later came forward to tell these stories? What if I was an actor?  Would I be seen as an innocent person who made an honest mistake, or would I be seen as a predator who needs to lose their job?  

We all have accidents and awkward moments.

We can't change that.

Sometimes joking about the moments minimizes the tension. Sometimes it might not. I think we just have to keep in mind that someone might feel worse about it than they are letting on. We need to have empathy.

Along with the laughing, I HOPE I apologized to these men. I probably did, but I'm not sure.

I'm usually a believer in retrograde apologies, but in this case, I worry if I hadn't caused torment in the past, I feel I might be adding it if I brought up the subject and apologized. Maybe if it's brought up in another way, I'll blurt out an apology.  

I don't know....

I'm haunted by all this.  

The main thing I feel is we should not do sexual harassment things on purpose.  If we do something on accident, who knows how we should act?  I don't.  But at the very least, we shouldn't assume the victim is okay with it all.