Friday, August 23, 2019
Here I am this morning, derailed by current events. Or, rather, how people respond. I’m referring to the recent report of a well known area businessman for repeatedly soliciting sex from a masseuse/massage therapist. No, I’m not going to go through the story as reported in multiple locations. And no, I’m not going to talk about guilt or innocence. I want to talk about responses I’ve seen that made my skin crawl.
A majority of the responses I have seen so far have been from men making excuses. If you wonder why certain objectionable behavior persists in our culture look no further than the underlying attitudes of what many men think is acceptable behavior. Some examples:
1. He was just bargaining for sex, it isn’t like he did anything without her consent.
Under what circumstances do you think it’s acceptable to “bargain for sex”? At the doctor’s office? At the grocery? From the pizza delivery person?
“Bargaining for sex” is never appropriate in situations that are not explicitly in the realm of sex work. Trying to bargain for sex from a legitimate masseuse is therefore something which is “without consent.”
2. The massage therapist was not underage, so there’s no crime.
Again, does this mean that every woman, everywhere, is fair game as long as she’s over the age of 18? Is that the only qualification? Are all women just potential sex providers depending on the whim of the man involved?
Both of these responses show a complete lack of understanding of the (alleged) crime in question. I am flabbergasted by the seeming lack of comprehension. How can anyone get to be an adult and have these attitudes? Here’s yet another reason we need comprehensive k-12 sex education in our schools. Once you are an adult you should understand that an expectation of sexual favors in the workplace is toxic, harmful, and deeply devaluing to both those who are targeted and others who fear they are potential targets.
As titillated as the public seems to be about the sexual details of this story, it is important to remember that this is not a crime about sex. It’s a crime about power and control.
Oh, and here’s a giant raspberry for all the folks who think that someone who provides massages for a living is, by default, a sex worker.
The unnamed victim is an absolute hero. Our society owes her a debt of gratitude for catching this individual. Not only did she defend herself for the crime to the police, she worked with police make sure he was arrested. She probably only is paid by the patient therapy/ massage session, but it's clear she took a day off work, put herself at risk, and work with police to take this man down. Because of her bravery, police have now made an arrest and police are able to find the other victims they think are out there.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be, but I am amazed by how many people have looked at this story and jumped in to make excuses, and I am truly disheartened by the ignorance of their arguments. Now just imagine that those are the same guys you work with, who pass you on the street, who go to your church or join your PTA. They fix your car and sell you your insurance policy. You won’t know which ones they are, of course. But it stands to reason they are sprinkled around everywhere.
Ready to observe a women victimized and make excuses. Or maybe to be the one who victimizes her.