a blog.

middle brow | citizen how \ 27 oct 17 /

sex, much simpler.

this week, a very well-liked and talented guy was fired from a very well-liked and successful and, by all accounts, fair-minded restaurant group. the guy was 28, but started with the group at 23 or 24 and catapulted into a position of power by 26 or 27. and has done some truly great work in the chicago restaurant scene. and he didn't personally harass anyone. but he didn't act to stop obvious harassment. but still. it got me thinking. about why people sexually assault other people.

is it because they're so unable to get a little rub-rub from any other source, and so they have to go steal one in the night? or in broad daylight? or on a bus? or on a train? or in the rain? or from dr seuss?

yes. sometimes yes. sometimes that's the exact reason. and in those case, women should punch men. sorry to promote violence. ... or at the very least, women should yell at that man very loudly. and shame him. and lock him up on a boat. or with a moat. or, naked, near a hungry, hungry goat.

but most of the time it's not about that. shit. i'd bet the supermajority of the time it's not. mostly it's about exerting power over someone else. males (and sometimes females) get off on this. females have been telling us this for decades! and they're obviously right! and in most cases, it's easy to see: when a male executive brings a female employee into his office and tells her to describe her last sexual encounter in detail, it's about power. the man isn't bringing a fellow executive into his office and forcing her to do that. he's dominating a female *employee* instead. and when a man with a wife grazes the chest of a random girl on the train, it's not simply about touching some tit (;P) with the back of your forearm. it's about committing a social transgression and getting away with it. because he could touch his wife that way any time he wanted.

other times it's maybe a little subtler: when your best bro in senior year of high school told the whole locker room that a particular girl was "easy", was he doing a public service? or did he want you to go pursue her? no. the answer to both of those questions is no. he wanted you to think he was cool. he wanted to feel more powerful for a minute, or a month. and he likely did.

so if it's *mostly* about power, is it any surprise that we're seeing so many men in power fall so gracelessly right now? (and thank goddess we are.)

but what this means is that we have to be very careful about who we give power to. for example, we should not allow people with a clear record of sexual assault to be teachers (generally speaking). and most states already do this! and for good reason! ... so let's apply that logic elsewhere. let's not let anyone likely to commit sexual assault into any position of power (like, for example, the presidency). deal? ok. great. glad that's all taken care of. ......... 

jk. because obv we can't always know who is likely to commit sexual assault. because many women are not supported when they try to report sexual assault. and so the record is wiped. and many women just plain don't report it. and so the record is thin to begin with. and we usually can't (and shouldn't try to) predict who might commit sexual assault if they were in a position of power. so what then?

well. this is where organizations come in. companies big and small often build frameworks for decision-making in the face of sexual harassment and assault. i'm not sure how effective they've been. (seems like not very.) but if older, wiser executives and managers used the framework so frequently that it provided quickly-and-easily referenced examples to mid-level employees and, shit, other folks in upper management of how to behave in the face of sexual harassment and assault. then we might see a lot less of it. at least in the workplace.

and then, if an organization wanted to give lots of power to a 26-year-old wunderkind with fuckloads of talent at, say, cooking vegetarian food. it can! because most 26-year-old wunderkinds, while very talented in this field or that, and while often very honorable people, lack the wisdom and natural tools to respond appropriately to sexual harassment and assault. and when they see it go unpunished constantly (like they would in, say, the restaurant industry), they freeze up. and forget it happened. and hope it just goes away. 

but with the right framework and examples, wunderkinds and wunderadults would know exactly how to respond in the face of this shit. and look. none of this framework talk reflects any bit of cleverness at all, really. it's just top of mind now that so many goofy-looking dudes are getting their comeuppance. but somehow, these frameworks and examples have been sorely lacking in the food and beverage industry. where the high school harassment culture is alive and well and thriving. and so, kudos to that restaurant group for providing the first big example in chicago. the older and wiser folks in the industry have to keep the dipshit kinds in line. even the kindhearted ones. and hopefully this particular wunderkind will pay his hard-learned lesson forward. 

--

my cousin made a really strong point last night. the whole #metoo campaign is wild. because almost every woman has a story. and so, as sheer math alone suggests that an enormous number of men engage in sexual assault, many women hate all men. she also acknowledged very quickly that the math doesn't work that way. and that something like 30%, say, of men actually engage in sexual assault. just, a lot of it. 

but, she reminded me, that's 3 of your 10 male friends! that's a lot of men! and so we all need the same kind of framework mentioned above to use in our everyday lives. outside of work.

what's the framework? i don't know. maybe, since power is mostly at the root of this type of behavior, guys should play the same game back to the dickhead dude they're in the presence of. e.g., if you see a guy grab the ass of a girl on a train, take your bag and start poking him in the ass. and when he looks at you, give him a little smirk. or when your buddy shows you a naked picture of a girl, start taking pictures of him in unflattering positions and posting them, one after the other, on facebook. or shit. even just smile and tell him to "get that insecure shit out of here". 

never mind. these are all probably way off. don't listen to me. i don't know shit about this. 

but if i come across any handy sort of guide for how to counter sexual harassment or assault on the street, i'll pass it on. promise. cuz we 70% of guys should be joining the 100% of women in the fight against the scuzzy, cowardly 30%.