The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is that everyone should be free from sexual harassment and sexual assault. I decided to write on this topic because I saw so many posts on Facebook about it. The posts are a result of a suggestion that actress Alyssa Milano tweeted on Sunday night: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote `Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Thousands of women had tweeted “Me too” by Monday morning. Thousands of others were posting it on Facebook.
I decided to do some basic research to learn more about this subject, and I first sought to define it. I learned that sexual harassment is anything of a sexual nature that is unwelcome or unwanted and/or causes discomfort, humiliation, or distress. There are several different types of sexual harassment, such as saying sexist, crude or suggestive remarks; showing sexually suggestive pictures, touching someone in a “friendly” manner, or giving an uncomfortable stare. I realized that I have been exposed to sexual harassment most of my life. I remember boys lining the hallways in high school and making crude comments to and about the girls who had to pass between them. I found the same type of environment in my places of work.
Korin Miller shares a definition of sexual assault that she says comes from the United States Department of Justice: “Sexual assault is `any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.’ Sexual assault is basically an umbrella term that includes sexual activities such as rape, fondling, and attempted rape.”
I find it sad that even one person has been sexually harassed and/or sexually assaulted. To know that this behavior is rampant in our society is heartbreaking. The perpetrators are male with female, male with male, female with male, and female with female, but the vast majority of the cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault are male with female.
Tweeting or posting “Me too” may bring some relief or satisfaction to the victimized, and it may show the vastness of the problem. As I see it, the problem is not a sexual problem; it is a respect problem. Nothing will change until all of us learn to respect ourselves and each other as children of God and as equals in His sight.
We must learn to treat each other with respect. Children and youth need to be taught appropriate behavior. Victims need to be supported in their honest claims in order for them to become survivors. The only way to solve the problem is to bring the dirty little secrets out of the darkness into the light. The “Me too” campaign may be the tool to start an open discussion and to teach respect. I would love to live in a world that was free from sexual harassment and sexual assault!