OK, so there is one topic that seems to be coming up online a lot in my twitter world, and that is the one of online sexual harassment, most notably in the form of men hitting on women either in a serial fashion or to one person past the line of being harmless flirting.
Deadspin just posted an article detailing a hockey blogger being fired for sexual harassment.
As a man, I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman (shocking, I know). As a result, I often times need to learn things about the other sex from the ladies, so I can better understand a world I don’t fully grasp.
Imagine me as a big stupid animal, and things that are obvious to you, and things you think should be obvious to me, might not always be so blatant to me. I can be a very stupid person at times.
Case in point, when I was younger, I didn’t see the big deal about ladies walking home in the dark. “What’s the big deal? I do it all the time!” young me thought. I laughed off their concerns. I had never lived in the shoes of someone who was scared of being attacked in the dark, or someone who didn’t feel safe walking around Vancouver at night. So as stupid as it may seem, it was honestly a hard concept for me to grasp. I was young and wasn’t very open minded. I tended to think if you didn’t think like me, you must be wrong.
As I’ve grown older, I have of course realized how narrow minded and stupid I was. I have since learned that just because I don’t feel a certain way, doesn’t mean there isn’t merit to how another person feels.
To this day, however, I still sometimes need to learn things and see things from the other side of the gender gap. I do this by talking to other people, or by generally thinking things over in my head, or sometimes by opining on Twitter to get feedback.
The problem with Twitter, however, is that I get the sense if I don’t just start every tweet that talks about sexual harassment with “ALL MEN ARE SCUM AND SHOULD DIE” I will be met with people who get angry with me very quickly.
Case in point, today I tweeted three tweets on the matter:
My point, from someone who doesn’t really DM people a lot, is that I find it really weird how some people can just make that leap from talking to people about random life, into sexualized conversation. That is what my fake iPhone convo is showcasing. That is honestly how abrupt some dudes are when they jump into sexual talk.
It’s clumsy and in many cases can potentially make women feel uncomfortable. It feels akin to walking into a Chapters, finding a stranger who is reading a book, making small talk for a few minutes about their book, then asking if they’d consider posing nude for you. It can be even worse when it mixes a work environment (aspiring or current writers).
I don’t understand that mindset of being that forward. I don’t understand that mindset of being forward in NORMAL situations. Like, I find it hard to this day to ask people to pay me to write, which is probably why I am still not a full time writer. I find it hard to ask people things in a completely reasonable and normal environment, so it blows me away that some people can just shoot for the moon and ask a girl they barely know to showcase her body to them.
So when I see a story like the one in Deadspin today, I think to myself “That’s super weird” and then I think “out loud” on Twitter about the situation and how odd I find that mindset some guys have. There is a huge difference between flirting in an environment where both parties are open to it, vs hitting up a bunch of girls and aggressively pursuing sexualized talk when it’s not wanted, and it’s honestly a worthy discussion to have in today’s world.
It’s also great to hear people’s viewpoints on this because there are a ton of variables to discuss in stories like this. Online etiquette is probably one of the most heavily debated (and important) topics you can have right now because so much of our lives takes place online.
One response I got, however, was this: (User blurred out because the point of this isn’t to “call” anybody out)
And this tends to be something that happens far too often on Twitter I find. Instead of telling me why they felt I was wrong or how I could look at it from their point of view, they just aggressively tweet at me. They fall back on “If you can’t see what you did was wrong, it’s not my fault.”
No, it’s not your fault, I agree. But why not talk about it with me to let me see your side of it?I don’t feel that I put up a super macho front on twitter. I don’t go around saying “bitches be crazy” or anything else that might invite the feeling that I am a close minded alpha male. I honestly like to learn about how other people view things because it helps me be more open minded.
Instead, I often times run into these situations, where people just seem angry and don’t want to bother explaining their point or clarifying anything.
Was my tweet meant to be sympathetic? No it was not, it was honestly used purely as an example of the abruptness that some guys can have when crossing the line in chatting. It was used as a hyperbolic conversation to try and create that “Where the fuck did that come from?” feeling people probably get when someone gets too sexual out of nowhere. It was not meant as me having a good laugh at “flirting gone bad”.
Anyways, I guess I just wish people would talk things over instead of just jumping to a “line in the sand” stance. It’s hard to broaden your mind if people on both sides are just rattling their sabres in the air.
On one hand, I understand it’s a topic that effects a lot of women, and there are probably a lot of pent up emotions and experiences tied into sexual harassment. It might seem blase of me to just casually say “just talk to me!’ when it’s such a hot button topic for many ladies.
I also understand what I find “weird” is a situation that can be really uncomfortable for women or be tied into very bad life experiences for women. This is why it helps me to talk to people, to help fill in the gap from “weird”, to me better understanding the situation through other people’s experiences.
On other other hand, just as some random dude on the internet, I would just appreciate it if people told their side of things when they get offended, without jumping into attack mode. And this goes for anything, not just sexual harassment. You hate how I cover hockey? Tell me something constructive. Don’t tell me to eat a bag of nails and die. Explain to me your side of things in a civilized manner, so I can process it and try and learn from it.
I guess I will finish this rant off by saying if you believe strongly in something, sometimes it helps to explain your viewpoint on it, to try and help people understand things better. Not everything has to be a fight and sometimes you will find people who are willing to listen and be open to your point of view.