With a little bit of luck, he will experience sexual harassment of the other kind and will have a steady girlfriend named Sammy. Let him feel what it’s like.
“You want to know what sexual harassment is?” my wise partner once asked me. “Sexual harassment is what you wouldn’t want to happen to your mother or your sister.”
I accept the definition and believe me if any of you tries to start up with my sister, the court case will be the least of your worries.
A mentally and emotionally stable man should have no problem living an entire lifetime without pinching someone’s derriere, without saying “hey, you wid’da nice boobs” and also without standing and staring at someone’s chest. (Yes, the law even forbids that and if you don’t believe me, read it yourself.)
He will succeed in living without asking someone who works for him to give him a massage. If his back hurts, make an appointment with a chiropractor.
The only problem is that I have begun to fear women. I am scared of them, scared to talk to them, worried about being alone with them in a room. I don’t tell them anything too intimate. Compliments are a thing of the past (I just tell them they look thinner, even those who don’t. It’s the only thing that seems safe.)
I even avoid those moments when a hug of support seems appropriate. Without noticing, I have now fewer female friends than in the past. When someone comes to work in a midriff exposing shirt, I feel a kind of cold hostility as though I am being threatened. I have one friend who refuses to enter an elevator if there is a woman in it. I told him he is overreacting but now I am considering it too.
Something else happened as well – even more serious – that I only recently noticed: I have always tried to hire as many women as possible to work on my television show. Not only because they are talented, but also because I am a veteran advocate of affirmative action.
Someone once asked me and I said that affirmative action was problematic, but we started it– men have preferred each other for thousands of years and nothing will happen if we go out of our way to help the other side. I have not changed my mind since, but the last two researchers I hired were guys. I didn’t admit to myself that this was because of fear, but it was part of it.
I don’t even know what scares me. Maybe a misunderstanding? Someone gets mad at me for a totally different reason and decides to seek revenge where it hurts the most? What if she has a stain on her blouse and my eyes linger there a little longer than necessary? There’s a law against stealing, and I am not afraid that one bright morning somebody will call me ‘thief’.
Maybe it’s the humiliating specter of the entire issue, maybe because it involves my family. Maybe it's because I know that when it comes to alleged sexual transgressions, people assume you are guilty way before the investigation begins. I don’t have anything to fear – I haven’t done anything – but I am frightened anyway.
Is it better?
Maybe it’s better that way. Maybe it’s better that men should fear women. After all, they’ve been scared of us for generations. We had the chances to prove ourselves; we failed and became violent, chauvinistic, immoral and quite disgusting when you think about it.
Every war in history has seen tens of thousands of women being raped by men who didn’t bother to exercise control when law no longer applied.
Let’s face it, you cannot trust us. The fact that I am scared is not an aberration; it’s the very idea of it. All men will fear, those who want to harass women will be frightened a little more. I guess that it the way it has to be. It’s a shame.
I am mad at them, at the sexual offenders and harassers because this disgusting gang has taken something away from me. They stole my pleasure at the smile of a pretty woman; to compliment someone who wears a new dress; to be a confidant to a female friend. They have made it so that I view at least half of the people I meet as potential threats.
Sometimes it is almost funny. I am a very straight guy but still the only people I now hug are men. This embrace is always accompanied by a chucking one another on the shoulder as if to say: “Hey, don’t think I am attracted to you, it’s just I have no one else to hug anymore.”
Innocents shouldn't fear
There is something sad in my fear. People who are innocent should not fear the law, surely not a law with which they agree. Nevertheless, whenever I meet a woman, I cannot help but remember that she has the ability to tear my life into shreds in five minutes.
So, why should I meet her? It’s enough that I say something on the radio that annoys her and she files a complaint against me.
The investigation will take two years of course. In the meantime, they will ask me (and rightly so) to stop my writing and (rightly so) to cancel my television show, and will ask my wife (definitely justifiable) how she dares, as a feminist, to announce that she supports me totally. When the court announces my innocence I will already be in Los Angeles, working as an ad salesman for the local Israeli newspaper. A broken man.
Even now, as I write these words, I am afraid. It scares me that some woman may arch an eyebrow and wonder “why has he decided to write on this subject.’ It scares me that what I have written may insult some woman for no reason.
But what scares me the most is thinking that some woman who as been sexually harassed in the past – a victimized woman, one who was hit on by one of the worst scumbags of my gender scarred her for life – and decides to take her revenge out on me.
I want to tell her that I am one of the good guys, that some of us are really incensed by harassment, that I understand it is an act of aggression, that there is no such thing as “she asked for it.” (And I apologize ahead of time for the mentioning of midriff baring shirts), that we are not all like them. But mostly I want to say to her that she doesn’t need to try and frighten me. It’s too late. I’m already scared.