Nov 022017 10 Responses

Let’s Make This Abundantly Clear

Sexual harassment is wrong.

It should carry serious consequences.

It’s NEVER the fault of the woman.

We all have a responsibility to do something about it.

There are three topics I regularly cover which tend to be the most controversial–racism, adultery, and sexual harassment.

The first is still controversial because racism is deeply rooted in the human condition and has a long history in American society. People are uncomfortable with the discussion and desire it to be avoided. So they claim it’s in the past or they accuse others of being race baiters or they claim you are “stirring the pot” when you discuss it.

The second is controversial because some are guilty and others are innocent. The guilty attack any article written about adultery as a way to divert attention from their actions. The innocent don’t understand the pervasive nature of affairs or the painful consequences that come with them so they assume any advice given to prevent adultery is overly legalistic and not necessary. They mean well, but they are wrong.

It’s the third topic which surprises me that on the verge of 2018 it’s still a controversial topic. How can it be controversial to say that making unwanted sexual advances toward a woman is wrong? How do we still protect guilty men and blame innocent women? How do we continue to shame the victims and protect the perpetrators? I’m not sure how, but we do.

In the past year, stories of sexual harassment have inundated the headlines. Thankfully we have come a long way and stories long held in silence are being voiced. Victims are being vindicated. Perpetrators are paying for their crimes. And women are being empowered to no longer hide what has occurred.

However, despite all the advances, we still have a long way to go. Far too many men (and women), continue to downplay the seriousness of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances. Men are excused, women are blamed, and we continue to perpetuate an unsafe and unhealthy culture for our sisters and daughters.

It’s time for it to stop. (See: What a Drunk Girl Deserves)

I realize we can’t put an end to bad behavior. Society can create stigmas around behaviors. We can punish those who make wrong choices, but we can’t make all evil end. For as long as there are men and women, sexual harassment will exist. People will make bad choices and we will have to help the victims while punishing the perpetrators.

However, we can do better. It starts by stating what should be obvious.

Let’s Be Clear, This Is Wrong

While some areas may be debated and we may come to different conclusions on some issues of right and wrong, a few things are obvious.

Outside of a consensual romantic relationship,

It’s NEVER appropriate for a man to grab a woman anywhere.

It’s NEVER appropriate for a man to touch a woman beyond the common actions of shaking hands, giving a consensual hug, placing an empathetic hand on a shoulder, or other platonic touches which can’t be misconstrued as being something more.

It’s NEVER appropriate for a man to make advances toward someone who works for him. The inequality in the working relationship hinders the woman from freely choosing if she wants the relationship.

It’s NEVER appropriate for a man to make sexual jokes, innuendos, or references to a woman.

It’s NEVER appropriate for a man to imply special privileges to a woman because of appearance.

The Double Whammy of Harassment

Not only do women have to deal with the previous actions far too often, but they also suffer from a culture that does not support them when they have the courage to share their stories. So often it is assumed the women caused the situation or made it up. Men are excused and women are blamed. It’s wrong.

Just as men shouldn’t immediately be convicted at the instant of a single accusation, women shouldn’t be automatically doubted. But let’s face it, they are. When the first person accused Bill Cosby, we assumed she was in it for the money. When the first person accused Bill Clinton, we assumed she was in it for the fame. When the first person accused Harvey Weinstein, we assumed she was bitter over not getting the part. When the first person accused Donald Trump, we assumed they were in it for the politics. But it wasn’t about the money, fame, role, or politics. It was about entitled men abusing innocent women. (I bet I just received three emails defending either Trump or Clinton and slandering their accusers.)

It’s fair to make sure we don’t wrongly convict innocent men. It’s wise to show caution until facts are known. But why aren’t we equally concerned about not believing truthful women? Why do we so quickly imagine being innocent and accused, but never consider having been abused/harassed but then not believed?

Consider: false accusations do occur, but they are rare. Very rare. And in most cases of false accusations, the truth quickly becomes obvious. While we shouldn’t assume that just because a person is accused, they are guilty, we also shouldn’t assume when someone makes an accusation that they are lying. Until the truth is discovered, we must find a way to support accusers even while not immediately stoning the accused. (See: Dealing With the Accused and Accusers in a Small Community)

Yet there must be consequences for those who harass and abuse.

It should cost men their influence and leadership when they use the very ones they are called to serve.

It should be consequential when men do not make right choices toward women.

Some actions should carry extreme consequences. Rape and serial harassment should cost a man his career. Other circumstances shouldn’t carry as much weight, but they still should be costly. Maybe it shouldn’t cost someone their career, but maybe it should cost them their job.

Sadly, society is stacked against women. The laws are written mostly by men. The lawyers have long been dominated by men. CEOs, presidents, boards, and managers have most often been men. This means a company can often claim they are handling things legally and properly when actually they are protecting the perpetrators and further hindering the victims. As a society, we must demand a different way.

A Wake-Up Call

Recently, another headline told the story about a case of serial harassment, but this case had a bit of a twist. One of my heroes, whose reputation has long been stellar, had recently engaged in the wrong behavior. What was unique about his case was his mental state is unknown. While he still makes public appearances, his age and medical conditions cast doubt as to his awareness of his actions.

In response to the allegations which were confirmed by the family, I commented on social media that the actions were wrong and it was time for the man’s family to remove him from public life. If he can’t keep his hands off of women, he should no longer take pictures and interact with the general public. Assuming his condition is compromised, the family should protect him and others.

The issue was simple. No one should be grabbing women without their permission. Yet the response by many wasn’t so simple. Many said it was no big deal. Others said the women should be flattered. Others said because of his years of service and lofty position he had the right to “cop a feel.”

But he doesn’t. His actions were clearly wrong and women needed to be protected. Instead, they were mocked, disbelieved, and used.

We have to do better. (See: Locker Room Talk And Being a Man)

Today’s headlines are filled with stories of sexual harassment and assault not because it’s happening more often; it’s not. It’s in the headlines because more women are showing the courage to say #metoo and society is better comprehending how serious the problem has long been.

Yet in spite of all the advancements, many old attitudes still exist. Men, good men, still don’t take the issue seriously. Men, good men, still downplay the culture we have created for women. For some, they downplay harassment in order to justify their own poor behavior. For others, they downplay it because they don’t understand what it’s like to be exploited or used.

Whatever the case, we need to do better. Our sisters and daughters deserve better.

What would you add to the list of behaviors which are clearly wrong?

10 Responses to Let’s Make This Abundantly Clear
  1. Glad to read Reply

    And this is what I try to explain to girls I mentor.

  2. Chip Reply

    I agree 110%. When is enough enough. When will people have the back bone to stand up and say something is wrong. Not because it’s socially unacceptable, but simply because it’s wrong. The society we live in has become so watered down that almost anything is acceptable, unless I offend you of course.

    There are boundaries is this world you should never cross. Sexual harassment is one of them. When you steal something from someone (e.g. their dignity, their freedom, their choice) you are the lowest of the low.

    I have never been sexual harassment. I have children and hope they can grow up to say the same thing. Anyone who can’t has been violated and that is WRONG!

  3. Andrew Reply

    Good Morning Kevin,
    I have read over the article on Bad behavior and Agree with you. I am not afraid to stand up and say I have been there, maybe not to the extent of an accusation and court but making women more like property. I used women for years and I got the worst punishment of all (single, in and out of relationships and unable to have kids for nearly 11yrs). I had a months of counseling with my Pastor and watched videos on marriage, God opened my eyes about the cost of treating women poorly, I was ready to give that life up because I wanted something more. It is a lonely place and I needed to Trust God with all my heart, I haven’t looked back to that old me only to reflect on what not to do and what I can do differently. I have since then been Blessed with A wonderful wife, a 9yr old daughter, and a little girl on the way. I thank God everyday for showing me what I did wrong and accepted the responsibility of making things right no matter how difficult. I have followed your articles and see Great Truth. Thanks for all you do, and May God continue to poor his blessing on you, your family and your ministry to others. Andy

  4. Deb Reply

    Kevin, this is great info and I agree whole heartedly. I would add that I think husbands need to also be careful and discrete about “grabbing” their wife (even if she is OK with it) in front of children unless he intentionally explains to his children that the “fun” should only take place between consenting adult couples or married people and you don’t do that with friends or casual acquaintances. I personally don’t like it even when my husband occasionally does this to me.

  5. Cindy Barker Reply

    Always enjoy your articles!

  6. Christina Reply

    Thank you for not backing down and not being timid in voicing your opinions. I work with vulnerable adults and disabled children. This week, an elderly & medically frail potential client shared with me last week a story.

    She said one month ago her Metro Mobility ride failed to pick her up where it had dropped her off, leaving her stranded without a ride home. She has no cell phone and she was without any way alternate transportation options. She reported to me a man a few years younger than her gave her a ride home but “sexually assaulted” her. She didn’t provide specifics and I didn’t ask but she did say she believed that he thought that what was happening was the way things “naturally progressed between a man and a woman” and I was sickened, stunned and horrified.
    I believe in our society we can too easily become desensitized to these things and it is a slippery slope so to speak. Our children are growing up exposed to far too much of these types of things and I agree with you – there needs to be a drastic change or shift in the cultural perspective on these behaviors!

  7. […] Some make a valid point–sex is private. Whom one sleeps with–even if they aren’t a...
  8. Chad Harris Reply

    False allegations of sexual harassment are not rare. It is a statistical fact that false accusations of sexual harassment are relatively high; whether considering publically documented charges which are exonerated, workplace complaints which are not substantiated or many other categories such as custody disputes, mixed motive character assassinations, ministry sabotage efforts or other situations where there exists either no evidence or evidence against. Likewise it is a statistical fact that child sexual abuse allegations also have a high rate of errancy, falsehood and/or horrifyingly misplaced efforts to ‘Err on the safe side’ in order to protect children. These realities exist simultaneously with the realities of victims not reporting or reporting and not being believed. But one of the more disturbing contemporary trends is the substitution for ‘Mass media persuasion’ via social media as a substitute for evidence, especially when fueled by well placed but meaningless sound bytes of the accuser. The kangaroo courts of the Salem Witch Trials were no less heinous, but a much less frequent occurrence. The responsibility of Christians to avoid bloodying their hands with the murder of character assassination is made more concrete when pastors are calling for heads, jobs and careers, while simultaneously monetizing the hits of popularly trending sentiments, mob justice and bloodthirsty political movements such as the current paranoid “They’re going to reverse Roe v Wade conspiracy theorists.”

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      From what I read, false allegations are 2-6%. They are serious, but aren’t that prevalant.

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