By Sue Pascoe
Back a few decades, I had to fend off advances from college professors, including one who wanted to serenade me when I was in an isolated classroom on work study, one who pulled me on his lap so we could see “eye to eye,” and one who tried to hold a Friday class at a bar until I discovered I was the only student invited.
Okay, all a bit sticky, as I tried not to hurt feelings while I made sure my grades didn’t drop, and more importantly, working to ensure I was never in that position again.
Looking back, I now know these experiences prepared me perfectly for doing stand-up comedy on the road. I had to deal with club owners who were notorious for welcoming back “agreeable” women, fellow comics (because most were men and just trying to get laid), and then stars, who were used to having women throw themselves at them—and “What’s the matter with you?” when I didn’t.
Another challenge: staying in comedy condos and hoping to get a room that had a door with a lock on it, which really paid off in Nashville when the headliner left after the Saturday night show. Someone from the club passed a key to the front door to a “friend.” Luckily, after trying to break into my room, he continued drinking and passed out in the hallway, so I could sneak out in the morning. (This was before cell phones.)
These on-the-road experiences were followed by my attempts to join three television writing shows, but with two of them I was told “We have our woman writer,” and on the last, I apparently sealed my own fate when the host said something about a woman’s breasts, and what he’d like to do, and I rolled my eyes.
As you might guess, I am glad that the Harvey Weinsteins of the world are finally being outed and ousted, but there is a distinct difference between the man who tried to break down the condo door and a man who grabbed me on New Year’s Eve and tried to give me a kiss (he missed, because I ducked my head).
There is a distinct difference between a predator and hopeful guys who pursue women. Somewhere in the primal brain, the man hopes to make contact and bed her. Men are genetically wired to reproduce, leaving women to care for the young, because after all, we haul them around inside us for the first nine months.
However, I am tired of reading news stories about women who complain about a guy who tried to kiss them. Really, you can’t turn your head, you can’t say “No”?
If a woman is invited to someone’s hotel room for business, doesn’t she ask herself, “Exactly what kind of business is done in a hotel room?” And can’t she say “No”?
And if a woman goes to bed with someone because she’s drunk and then regrets it the next day, she shouldn’t accuse the guy of rape. She made a decision, and she should take responsibility for what she allowed to happen—and stop drinking when she’s out with men. I am tired of women always claiming that they are victims. The news and social-media focus should try to avoid the faux victims and focus on the sexual predators and the true victims, such as the preteen and teen gymnasts who were sexually abused by Larry Nassar, a doctor who was supposed to be helping them.
If women want to be treated equally, then they have to be smart, and stand up for themselves.
Now, it’s said that men are becoming increasingly wary about working with women for fear of being accused of sexual harassment. Some men say they no longer want to mentor women because they’re afraid something innocently done, such as a pat on a back or an encouraging hug, could be misconstrued, and they will become embroiled in a lawsuit.
This brings to mind the fable about the little shepherd boy who cried “Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!” The villagers came to help the boy, but when they arrived there was no wolf and people told the boy, “Don’t cry ‘wolf ’ when there is no wolf.”
The boy repeated the cry, the villagers came and once again warned the boy. The third time there was really a wolf, but when the boy cried for help, no one came.
A kiss or a hug may be unwanted, but it is not sexual assault, and it’s time we distinguish between the two. We need to do this not only for our daughters, but also for our sons.