While eavesdropping on some casual lunchtime conversation I overheard a female colleague say “It’s all getting so out of control, soon men will be too scared to approach us” and this statement was enough to initiate the engine of my thought process, and drive through my first blog post of 2018…

One of the most interesting aspects of living in a post-apocalyptic Weinstein existence is the amount of content, discussion and media coverage regarding the abuses of men in positions of power or influence (although to be fair you don’t need power or influence to be abusive)

Is it possible that navigating social interactions is a minefield so dangerous that modern man doesn’t know where to stand? Are men genuinely too afraid to socially interact with women for fear of being perceived as predatory or inappropriate?

I looked into the meaning of sexual harassment and I found something that said…

The law says it’s sexual harassment if the behaviour is either meant to, or has the effect of: violating your dignity, or. creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

I can’t understand why anyone would want to engage with another human outside of consent, but if we move past the official jargon and read between the lines what is really being said is “if a person is not interested in your romantic or sexual intentions…stop”

The recent Golden Globe awards attempted to balance a sharper political edge with some of the most high-profile Hollywood celebrities wearing black in support of the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns, to encourage more women to come forward with their experience of sexual harassment and abuse.

The measurable social impact of celebrity millionaires wearing black designer gowns and tuxedos is yet to be determined, but what is undeniable is the conversation would never have reached mainstream media consciousness, if it wasn’t for the appeal of celebrity culture…

So how do we attempt to solve a social problem that has been simmering under the lid of our culture since early man ignorantly assumed his sense of entitled could override mutual consent? This post will not be able to solve all the delicate, social intricacies at play. It’s not easy to navigate an ever-evolving social landscape in the eye of fast-paced digital storm…but…I feel I can offer five words that have the potential to rock this new era of social engagement to its core…ready?

Get to know the person.

My concept is not a difficult principle to live by because it happens to most of us, within our everyday lives. When I enter my local overpriced, overcrowded coffee house, the barista doesn’t make an assumption they know what is best for me to drink. I get asked what hot beverage I desire to purchase and that is then issued to me based on my request. The barista doesn’t then assume because I love a piping hot cappuccino, the next ten customers want to drink the exact same thing because each drink is served with the intention of meeting each unique requirement of the customer.

So then what happens?

Well…perhaps I want to spend more time in that coffee house, perhaps I become a regular, perhaps the barista remembers my face and memorises my order, but even then, I always have the option to change my mind and try something new…but I keep coming back because the retailer makes an attempt to get to know me a little better, without assuming they know what is best for me to drink.

Finding ways to get to know an individual, before any assumptions are made is a sure-fire way to develop an understanding that could turn a casual acquaintance into a significant someone and this principle can be applied no matter the social, digital or physical setting.

The hunger of our reactionary mass media is so desperate for attention, they will jump on the bones of any tiny morsel of information in order to claim it as news. The “trial by Twitter” approach is not something that sits well with me either and while I think it’s important to share experiences, I just don’t think “tweets” carry the same gravitas as directly holding perpetrators accountable.

Personally, I believe a woman can wear whatever she wants because provisional fashion choices do not give licence to unwarranted harassment…but…not everyone feels the same way I do and for real societal progress to happen it would mean that everyone has to be accountable (or at least take partial responsibility) for situations they may find themselves in…

Perhaps it isn’t the best idea to go to a Hollywood party that just so happens to be fuelled by alcohol and party goers inhaling the latest designer drug. It’s probably not the best idea to go up to the hotel room of someone you’ve met for an hour to talk about an issue that can be discussed in the lobby.

We know not all men turn into beasts when exposed to a woman’s beauty and the deep seated roots of sexual harassment run through all sexualities, genders, ethnicities, cultures, social environments and personal philosophies. So I guess the question is “Will some men find it difficult to approach women, in the dawn of a new era, which demands more mutual consent?”

Yeah maybe…but who cares? If it means a reduction in catcalling, manipulation, unwanted physical contact, offensive phone messages and/or inappropriate sexual gestures…

I’m all for it.

Until next time.