#meToo

Eye-candy is not entitlement, boys.

“Wearing this to work is #sexual harassment!” proclaims the tweet.

“It’s not other women you’re teasing!”

It’s been published by a young male; the accompanying photograph (left) ostensibly shows a female worker in what might be an office environment (or possibly a brothel somewhere in New Jersey, potato, potato, pronounced differently).

She’s a tasty brunette, as you can see, tall, long-haired and leggy. Curiously, two-thirds of her face is missing, which is either to preserve her anonymity, or which may simply indicate that anything above her neck is of  minimal interest, but you can still tell she’s Melania-beautiful, read, exotic; and her tall, leggy, Melania-beauty is more than a little revealed by a mini-skirt —

—is that what they still call them? I was around for the first one, Rudi Gernreich was the designer, I believe, or was it Mary Quant? and it seems a desperately long time ago —

— and a sheer blouse with a plunging neckline displaying more than a single eyeful of toys-for-needy-boys cleavage.

I’m gay, by the way.

The point of this tweet, also hash-tagged #WarOnMen, seems to be that any man skewered by the glance of this radiant smiling siren, who is clearly out for career advancement and willing to go the mile in displays of leg and cleavage to achieve this, would be a victim himself of sexual harassment.

#WarOnMen. First cousin of #StraightPride.

#StraightPride is a ludicrous concept because every day is straight pride; #WarOnMen is ludicrous because men aren’t being outed just because they’re men; not all men are being outed.

Just the ones who behaved like pigs.

Now, I’m all for shades of grey, and cutting guys some slack, and guys being hot for women. It makes the world go round, not that I would know from direct personal experience, but hey. You can’t always partition your brain into “sexual” and “non-sexual” components at will; sex seeps into everything.

But eye-candy is not entitlement. And it is painfully apparent from the current outings of sexual misconduct that men, a lot of men, need to learn self-control, and to stop blaming women for their own failings.

Self-control is not a small achievement for a man. But learning self-control is part of becoming a man, not remaining an eternal teenager; it’s an essential marker of a guy’s maturity.

As the allegations of shameful male behavior pile up, I ask myself: whatever happened to, as it was called in my day, being a gentleman?

Being a gentleman was something fathers or male mentors taught to boys and young men. It was a code that was unwritten, in other words, a cultural phenomenon, and that means it had to be taught by example; absorbed.

Do as I do.

Being a gentleman was a code of conduct based on, first of all, respect for women — that was its bedrock and raison d’être; and though it undoubtedly had sexist thinking behind it then, there is no need for respect to be sexist, no need at all. Respect is always relevant.

Courtesy, and appropriate, dignified behavior, that’s how it manifested; but being a gentleman was a whole concept and not at all stuffy or unmanly. Its insistence on respect for women allowed flirtation within its firm boundaries; it tacitly acknowledged that male sexuality is potentially dangerous, unruly, and has to be contained, and must be contained by any man aspiring to be considered civilized.

(Being considered civilized was something we cared about. Talk about quaint!)

Being a gentleman also embodied civil discourse and restrained speech, concepts that required listening with sincere interest to opposing viewpoints, rather than reacting with shouted obscenities like a spoiled, thwarted child. It required working knowledge of culture; art and music and current events; it revelled in quick wit and intelligence.

But primary and forefront, respect for women.

Where did it go, being a gentleman?

gawd, I feel old.

Woebegone, be gone…

This one hurts.

Guess who turned out to be a jerk when the ladies are around?

I have, because of l’affaire Keillor, broken out in a severe case of Wagner Syndrome.

Wagner Syndrome consists of a nasty rash and a splitting headache that go on for about twenty-three hours, along with a tendency to fall asleep, then awaken with a little yelp to find it’s only two minutes later.

All that, plus:

  • the cognitive dissonance created by being lost in admiration for a sublime, or a great, or even a merely pretty good, work of art;
  • aggravated by, despite one’s ethical and moral concerns, admiring the supreme skill, or above-average talent; the numinous creative genius, or the rather amusing fratboy cleverness, that created it;
  • and at the same time realizing that the man creating it was, in Wagner’s case, an anti-semite, a foul inexcusable spouter of hateful bigotry; or
  • in l’affaire Keillor, a common-or-garden asshole, at least part of the time, or at least part of the time a pathetic, ageing “isn’t that just like a man” jerk.

And jerk is plenty bad enough.

Keillor waffles; he put his hand on his friend’s bare back to comfort her, he says, but then “my hand was six inches up her back”. That’s not a shade of grey.

Keillor worries that the world will be a dull and joyless place when the day arrives that men can no longer paw women with impunity and call it “flirting”.

Sexual assault and flirting are not synonyms.

There’s a lot of static currently about this so-called “War on Men”, so let me remind you of a legal concept.  In fact, don’t believe me, believe this interpretation of Section 256 of the Canadian Criminal Code; the section on assault. Two factors in particular are important in proving assault: intention, and force. And regarding force, I read the following:

An assault includes “the least of touching” without consent. The amount of force used is not material.

The amount of force used is not material. It’s the least of touching without consent.  Assault.  We already agree on this; it’s common law, it was common law before “feminism” was a word.

War on men?  Well, then, let me ask you this: If men hold positions of power, and have always done, and continue to do so, and continue to use their power to discount, degrade and assault women—what choice have women left but war?

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