Column | No means no. It doesn’t mean, ‘maybe’
An avalanche of revelations concerning public figures engaging in various sexual assaults has tumbled down upon our heads, and the airwaves are consumed with accusations, recriminations, equivocations and ethical gyrations, not to mention the threat of career annihilations. And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving aggregation of guys.
Since early October, after numerous women came forward to accuse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexually abusive behavior, huge numbers of high-profile males have faced similar charges and either been fired, allowed to resign, lost committee leadership positions, had projects canceled, entered rehab, become incapable of speech or are favorites to win the vacant U.S. Senate seat in Alabama.
We’re not just talking politicians, but judges and talk show hosts and actors and comedians and producers and professors and presidents and professional athletes and coaches and chefs and reporters and editors and publishers and venture capitalists and rental clowns. We haven’t even scratched the clergy, which many of them would most assuredly enjoy.
Men Behaving Badly is a tale as old as dogs chasing cats, a concept even more apropos when you consider that most men are horndogs to begin with. It’s a miracle women have survived considering the position of vulnerability various quirks of nature foisted upon them: childbirth, being 10 percent smaller than male counterparts and a shorter fertility period. Offset by living longer and a tendency to mature more quickly and some might argue owning a monopoly on that particular aspect.
Every single woman you’ve ever met, including your sister, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, (if you met her) has been the unwelcome recipient of inappropriate touching and crude groping and hugs that go on much too long and clumsy pawing and cheek kisses that inexplicably involve wetness and all sorts of leers and ogles and catcalls and having to constantly worry that the provocative or unprovocative clothing they are wearing might provoke the unwarranted attention of some deranged carbon unit with Y-chromosome poisoning who thinks he is god’s gift to women. Which admittedly is many of us. Okay. Most. All?
And that categorically has to include grabbing someone by the private parts and the fact we have a leader who bragged about that sort of activity is as helpful as wiring a park bench to a chandelier. That’s not locker room banter, that’s an oafish toad gloating about his clueless entitlement and disregard for decency.
It is way way past the point that we men get hip to the simple fact that no means “no”. It doesn’t mean, “yes, please.” It doesn’t mean, “maybe.” It doesn’t mean, “It’s getting hot in here, so take off all my clothes.”
And it certainly doesn’t mean “You big lug, you’re so cute when you’re angry and thank god you know what I want more than I do and I love it when your face turns that blotchy tomato color.” Because, trust us, nobody likes that blotchy tomato color.
Not only does no mean “no”, it also means “don’t.” Don’t threaten, don’t harass, don’t stand close enough to smell your aftershave and don’t make sly innuendoes, which usually aren’t very sly or innuendoish. This is the second decade of the 20th Century. Time to lose the Middle Ages werewolf attitude and start walking and acting upright. Make your great-grandmother proud.