While disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s trial has begun in New York, an interview by his lawyer has raised many eyebrows on social media. Speaking with Vanity Fair, Donna Rotunno said that the pendulum is swinging so far in the overly sensitive direction that men can’t really be men, and women can’t really be women. She further added, “I feel that women may rue the day that all of this started when no one asks them out on a date, and no one holds the door open for them, and no one tells them that they look nice.” Can sexual harassment and basic courtesy even be conflated? Should women stay silent about sexual misconduct as it would kill their prospects of dating?

SOME TAKEAWAYS:

  • Can sexual harassment and basic courtesy even be conflated?
  • When you are expected to “behave yourself” does that mean that women do not want you to approach them at all?
  • How the dynamics pan out between the two genders actually depends on where does the conversation go on sex from here.

Can sexual harassment and basic courtesy even be conflated? Should women stay silent about sexual misconduct as it would kill their prospects of dating?

It isn’t Rotunno, many people have been warning that the #MeToo movement will “intimidate” men and they’d even be afraid to ask women out. This warning in itself shows how male privilege works in our society. Patriarchy not only excuses men from much of the accountability when it comes to sexually inappropriate behaviour, they even get to play the victim card when such behaviour is called out. How have we ended up bringing a generation of boys who are so clueless about what consent means? Why must they feel intimidated when they have done nothing wrong, and it is those who have abused their male privilege that are being called out?

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When you are expected to “behave yourself” does that mean that women do not want you to approach them at all? Or that they see your every action as a sexual transgression? No, it simply means that women want men to honour their agency, and mind you this is true for every gender. Also, the finger cannot be just pointed at men, can it? We know that there are some women who used #MeToo as an instrument to settle personal scores, which is shameful and it keeps us from advocating “Believe all survivors”.

Men and women should sit down and talk, show empathy, patience and a willingness to unlearn their patriarchal conditioning and sort this out amicably.

Secondly, women themselves have internalised misogyny to such an extent. A loud and firm “no” said at the very moment when you are feeling sexually uncomfortable still doesn’t come easily to all of us. So, is Rotunno right then in saying that women will end up regretting #MeToo when no one will ask them out or tell them that they look beautiful? No, because #MeToo has been our platform to showcase decades worth of sexual oppression, it has given us a voice and it has made social inaction and the pressure to stay quiet.

Also Read: Women Are Prone To Trivialising Sexual Crimes Just Like Men

How the dynamics, pan out between the two genders actually depends on where does the conversation goes from here. Men and women should sit down and talk, show empathy, patience and a willingness to unlearn their patriarchal conditioning and sort this out amicably. They can discuss clearer definitions of what counts as sexual misconduct and what is acceptable behaviour.

Picture Credit: Vogue

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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