Is sexual harassment really difficult to understand?

From The Guardian UK:

The idea of consent is not a ‘metropolitan’ or liberal concept yet it seems to confuse some men. They should check themselves and listen

Monday 6 November 2017

Don’t sexually harass women in the workplace. It’s clearly a big ask, isn’t it? For certain kinds of men, this appears to be an imposition that confuses them terribly. How are they to know how to make passes at women? Surely everyone understands that making a pass is not like raping someone? No, they are just being men – watching porn, sexting teenagers, saying lewd things to colleagues. Banter innit? They are the kind of men no woman wants to get in a lift with, the type for whom the acronym NSIT (Not Safe in Taxis) was invented. Do these creeps ever wonder why?

They shouldn’t worry too much. The Today programme, Have I Got News for You and Newsnight are still dominated by sniggering men who would hate to muddle a minor “indiscretion” with a major one. When Jo Brand calmly told a panel of public school boys and Paul Merton that repeated low-level sexual harassment wore women down, for a moment they were silenced – but only for a moment.

Up pops David Goodhart – Etonian, thinktanker, categoriser of people into Anywheres and Somewheres – to inform us on Twitter that the “inability to distinguish hand on knee/sleazebag behaviour from rape/serious intimidation is typical of ideological (metropolitan) thinking”. Okey-dokey. Who exactly is unable to distinguish this? Men? Women? The police? People who live in cities? We can of course distinguish, especially perhaps those of us who have experienced it – and we tend to see it on a continuum. Men who don’t require consent or who get off on making women feel uncomfortable make us both fearful and compromised in the workplace. This applies as much in an out-of-town superstore as it does in Westminster.

So for Goodhart to conjure up this bizarre metropolitan elite argument to shore up male privilege shows just how fragile these old forms of masculinity are currently feeling. The idea that outside metropolitan areas it is apparently OK to behave as a lech is deeply insulting and untrue.

If by “metropolitan” he means progressive – and this is part of his general attack on the liberal tribe who have lost touch with reality – Goodhart would be endorsing a reality that is inherently sexist and arguing that abhorrent attitudes are fundamentally unchangeable.

Away from Goodhart, there is battalion of vocal wronged men who think of women as fantasists; and in expressing that, they reveal more than we may wish to know about them. Such poor souls are wounded not by the metropolitan elite or liberal values, but by the visible refutation of their own ideology, which assumes that an entitlement to power means unquestioned sexual entitlement too.

Why is it so difficult for them? They are often, it has to be said, of a certain age. Years ago one man in Westminster told me that his attitude to sex was “throw enough mud against the wall and some of it sticks”. Pity us walls.

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The death of Christianity in the U.S.

From The Baptist News:

November 13, 2017

Christianity has died in the hands of Evangelicals. Evangelicalism ceased being a religious faith tradition following Jesus’ teachings concerning justice for the betterment of humanity when it made a Faustian bargain for the sake of political influence. The beauty of the gospel message — of love, of peace and of fraternity — has been murdered by the ambitions of Trumpish flimflammers who have sold their souls for expediency. No greater proof is needed of the death of Christianity than the rush to defend a child molester in order to maintain a majority in the U.S. Senate.

Evangelicals have constructed an exclusive interpretation which fuses and confuses white supremacy with salvation. Only those from the dominant culture, along with their supposed inferiors who with colonized minds embrace assimilation, can be saved. But their salvation damns Jesus. To save Jesus from those claiming to be his heirs, we must wrench him from the hands of those who use him as a façade from which to hide their phobias — their fear of blacks, their fear of the undocumented, their fear of Muslims, their fear of everything queer.

Evangelicalism has ceased to be a faith perspective rooted on Jesus the Christ and has become a political movement whose beliefs repudiate all Jesus advocated. A message of hate permeates their pronouncements, evident in sulphurous proclamations like the Nashville Statement, which elevates centuries of sexual dysfunctionalities since the days of Augustine by imposing them upon Holy Writ. They condemn as sin those who express love outside the evangelical anti-body straight jacket.

Evangelicalism’s unholy marriage to the Prosperity Gospel justifies multi-millionaire bilkers wearing holy vestments made of sheep’s clothing who discovered being profiteers rather than prophets delivers an earthly security never promised by the One in whose name they slaughter those who are hungry, thirsty and naked, and the alien among them. Christianity at a profit is an abomination before all that is Holy. From their gilded pedestals erected in white centers of wealth and power, they gaslight all to believe they are the ones being persecuted because of their faith.

Evangelicalism’s embrace of a new age of ignorance, blames homosexuality for Harvey’s rage rather than considering the scientific consequences climate change has on the number of increasing storms of greater and greater ferocity. To ignore the damage caused to God’s creation so the few can profit in raping Mother Earth causes celebrations in the fiery pits of Gehenna.

Evangelicalism forsakes holding a sexual predator, an adulterer, a liar and a racist accountable, instead serving as a shield against those who question POTUS’ immorality because of some warped reincarnation of Cyrus. Laying holy hands upon the incarnation of the very vices Jesus condemned to advance a political agenda — instead of rebuking and chastising in loving prayer — has prostituted the gospel in exchange for the victory of a Supreme Court pick.

Evangelicalism either remained silent or actually supported Charlottesville goose steppers because they protect their white privilege with the doublespeak of preserving heritage, leading them to equate opponents of fascist movements with the purveyors of hatred. Jesus has yet recovered from the vomiting induced by the Christian defenders of torch-wielding white nationalists calling for “blood-and-soil.”

The Evangelicals’ Jesus is satanic, and those who hustle this demon are “false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Cor. 11:13-15, NIV).

You might wonder if my condemnation is too harsh. It is not, for the Spirit of the Lord has convicted me to shout from the mountaintop how God’s precious children are being devoured by the hatred and bigotry of those who have positioned themselves as the voice of God in America.

As a young man, I walked down the sawdust aisle at a Southern Baptist church and gave my heart to Jesus. Besides offering my broken heart, I also gave my mind to understanding God, and my arm to procuring God’s call for justice. I have always considered myself to be an evangelical, but I can no longer allow my name to be tarnished by that political party masquerading as Christian. Like many women and men of good will who still struggle to believe, but not in the evangelical political agenda, I too no longer want or wish to be associated with an ideology responsible for tearing humanity apart. But if you, dear reader, still cling to a hate-mongering ideology, may I humbly suggest you get saved.

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Women, we should stop gaslighting ourselves and trust our instincts

From The Guardian UK:

Instincts are difficult to describe but easy to know. If we’re feeling unnerved, the very least we can do is listen to those inner voices

Friday 20 October 2017

Aside from the words “massage”, “bathrobe” and “undressed”, there’s another theme that recurs in the allegations – more than 50 of them – against Harvey Weinstein: many of the women felt uneasy as soon as they met him. The sickening allegations have reminded me just how important it is that we trust our instincts.

If you don’t get to the bottom of this piece, please remember this crucial caveat: I am not placing one iota of blame on the women whose trust was abused – the responsibility for that will always lie with the person who did the abusing.

In the case of Harvey Weinstein, and so many others, the choice about whether to ignore our instincts is distorted to the point of being almost meaningless. The women’s decisions were deeply affected by the fact that their entire careers could rest on this man – a fact Weinstein knew how to play all too well.

That’s what power does. It doesn’t just affect the choices we have available to us, it affects the way we choose between them.

But on those rare moments where we can choose; where we’re deciding whether or not to go for a second date, whether or not to share a ride, and when there’s that voice within us saying “that guy seems like a bit of a creep”, we should listen, rather than heeding the million other voices that say “you’ve got no reason to think that” or “he doesn’t seem so bad” or “stop being crazy”.

We should stop gaslighting ourselves.

Instincts are difficult to describe but easy to know. I’ve shaken hands with men and seen a look in their eye that makes my throat dry up. I’ve sat beside men on trains and felt their legs a fraction of an inch closer than they needed to be. I’ve paid for things and had men touch my hands as I place my money down on the counter. We often feel utterly paralysed in those moments. You can’t stop meeting men, riding trains or paying for things. And to speak up would be to expose yourself to ridicule, to show yourself as a monster who has lost their mind to paranoia.

The very least we can do in those situations, the absolute bare minimum, is to listen to those inner voices.

We can have so little information available to us when we meet someone new. Rather than saying “I don’t want to read too much into that”, we should trust that the little signs are revealing of something bigger.

This is about unlearning a lesson that is good in one classroom but not in another. Yes, we should be generous; yes, we should give people a second chance – but not when it comes to our mental and physical safety. It’s just not worth it.

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