A few weeks ago, I was spending time shopping in downtown Traverse City, alone, for my day off. As I was walking down one of the streets, I passed a man and a young boy who appeared to be around 10 years old, assuming father and son. As I walked past the pair, the older gentlemen whistled at me and said “Hey there, pretty thing.” It took every ounce of self-control I had to not turn around and scream at him. Looking back, I wish I had.
I mean here is an older gentleman setting the example for a young boy that it’s okay to hit on random girls on the street and make them uncomfortable. I wish I could say this is uncommon, but it’s not. And it’s even being done by men in positions of high power.
In a way, validating sexual harassment and assault is exactly what our president is doing both directly and indirectly. Because of Trump’s connection to Epstein, who has been all over the news for his arrest and subsequent suicide, his involvement in Epstein’s sex parties has resurfaced, and the idea that Trump is not only a discriminatory, hateful man but also a rapist is circulating again.
Even if what he has done is in speculation, it’s still setting the example that a man in the highest power in all the United States could rape and get away with it. It’s setting the example that sexual assault and harassment is OK for young boys, the next generation of men.
The reason why we still have the Me Too Movement is because boys keep getting taught that it’s OK to sexually harass and assault girls. And that comes from the adult males these boys adore, look up to and mirror, showing them that it’s OK. That comes from adult males in power showing boys it’s OK. That comes from our president of the United States being accused of rape and having quite a bit of evidence against him and disregarding it while continuing to degrade women, especially the women who speak out against him.
And for me, it’s infuriating. It’s infuriating that I have to walk around in malls or outdoor shopping areas with something in my hands I could use to protect and defend myself if someone grabbed me. It’s infuriating that I have to have heightened senses and pay attention to any detail that could show the beginnings of an unsafe situation. It’s infuriating that I can’t just say “please stop” to a co-worker making advances on me and have to resort to pushing him away from me to get his hands off of me and asking other people to help keep him away from me in order to stay safe.
This is not the world I would ever want to bring a daughter into for fear of what boys in her generation would try to do to her against her wishes.
It shouldn’t be, “boys will be boys,” anymore. It should be “men will raise men,” where I define “men,” minimally, as boys who have the ability to respect the existence of all people.