[This is not directly relevant to my writing, I know, but this is the platform I have to say my piece about things, so this is what I'll do. Needless to say I cared enough about this topic to add it here.]
Dear Ms. Blatchford,
I do not need your help in understand how society got to where it is today. I know my history.
I know that women were once relegated to glorified house slave roles. I know that eventually they were allowed to vote, and gained the same rights as men. I know they fought to join men in the workplace, and that today they fight to be paid equally to men for equal labour. I know that throughout the above processes, they have been subject to physical and verbal abuse, and that they still are.
What does that say about our society?
It hasn’t “lost its way” as you put it. It’s come a long way—evolving to end slavery, give universal voting rights, elect gay people to office, consider transgender rights, debate a woman’s right to choose, and slowly release prejudices fuelled by irrational fears.
But we have not evolved far enough. Recently, young unarmed black men with their hands in the air have been shot by police, transgendered people have been banned from bathrooms, and dentistry students have created facebook groups about ‘hate —-ing’ women. And that’s just a small selection from recent news.
We haven’t come nearly far enough, and sadly your article is a step in the wrong direction.
It saddens me that, in reference to the Jen Grant case, you say, “I don’t know… that anyone would be surprised that an after-golf tourney night is predictably a bit of a zoo,” as though she should’ve known what she was getting into. That puts the onus on her, and off of the man who uttered the words. Excuses like this have been heard before, in phrases like “boys will be boys” or “she was wearing revealing clothing.”
So let me help you out here: The lewd comments made by the man in the audience that night were NOT acceptable. They were aggressive, suggestive, unsolicited, and made the recipient feel very uncomfortable. They were verbal harassment. And just because Jen Grant knew she would be performing in a country club after a golf-tourney does NOT mean that her reaction was unfounded, or that it was at all her fault. The only “snafu of misplaced expectations” was the man’s expectation that it was acceptable to say such things to a woman.
Don’t be concerned that society does not comprehend the difference “between sexual assault and a kiss, however unwanted, between harmful actions and hurtful words, however mean, and between rape and a tone of voice, however leering.” Society understands differences of degree.
Instead, be concerned that all of the above acts, forced on an unwilling participant, are acts of abuse. Abuse of societal position. Be concerned that young men think it’s acceptable to embarrass reporters with sexual slander, be concerned that men of all ages suffer from addictions to images that objectify women, be concerned that sexual abuse and rape are still rampant in society.
Despite these problems, there are still members of our society who dream of equality across humanity, of a world of tolerance and non-judgement. It is these people who have, and will continue, to encourage our civil evolution. And as long as they are with us, society has not “lost its way,” Ms. Blatchford—it’s finding its way.
Please don’t slow it down.