There should be a rule: no porn during annual reviews.

Well, unless you are Stormy Daniels, I guess.  But that’s not what this is about.

Reading the many articles and statements that result from the #metoo movement is both a catharsis and a series of considerations.  While I can’t possibly express how offended and indignant I am at much of what I’ve read, not all of the stories seem worthy of my outrage.

Conversely, there was the time I went into my professional review – something I had anxiously awaited, as all hopeful hard-working young people do – only to come face to face with a monitor displaying pornography.  “You don’t mind, right?”  my supervisor said, smiling.

I did.  And I told him I did.

And I have other stories.  Some of them more shocking and less funny than that one.  But all of this is complicated.  Eros is complicated.  I also have had wonderful relationships with men I’ve met at work – relationships that would never have developed if one or both of us hadn’t been willing to risk rejection with some small overture that went beyond the most expected of professional communications.  The blueberry muffins home baked and proffered in the kitchen over the water cooler, the inquiries about how my work was going, the suggestion we go for lunch – offsite.  Things can become colorful with a bit of encouragement so it’s worth considering where the lines of convention ought to be; I’d argue we don’t want to become rules-robots.

For my own part, while I’m not known for throwing people I find attractive against a wall and stuffing my tongue into their mouth, I’d hate to think that I or any of the women I know aren’t at liberty to express our interest in someone – that would seem … well … awful.  And it cuts both ways.  I can’t emphasize enough that while my own experience of inappropriate sexual advances have overwhelmingly been of men carrying them out, and of them being power-based in their origins, it would not be true to say that I, as a woman am not in command of my sexuality.   And frankly, in the spirit of achieving the kind of equality I think is sensible, I’d rather bring us even rather than engage in castigating each other.  Unless you’re Matt Lauer, a rapist, Harvey Weinstein, or one of their ilk.  In which case you deserve to be castigated.  Or worse.

So I would like to offer the following as a kind of start at setting guidelines for our consideration:

If your first expression of interest (called thus in goodwill) would NOT appear in the pages of a Jane Austen novel (with language adjusted for modern tongues) it’s probably not appropriate as a first overture.

If, to correct you, anyone has to physically displace any part of your body, you can assume you are out of line.

Porn is out unless you’ve already had sex.  And talked about it.  Porn, I mean.

Please do not tell me what I want.  I can tell you what I want.

No definitely means no.  Even if one says “no, thank you.”  It’s still no.

I am not in any way questioning the import and timeliness of #metoo.  Believe me, my stories really could fit right in with some of the most shocking ones.  But I want us to be careful.  Nothing stands in for good old-fashioned personal responsibility and self possession.

Unless we’re talking about Matt Lauer.  That guy really pisses me off.

 

 

 

 

 

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