Rus­sell Wanger­sky: No ex­cuses

Northern Pen - - EDITORIAL - Rus­sell Wanger­sky Eastern Pas­sages

There are small, wet brown mush­rooms com­ing up along the edges of the hill­top trail, a sure sign that au­tumn is in full flush. And I didn’t stalk and threaten even one woman on so­cial me­dia to­day.

The walk to work was un­event­ful, fat dark clouds full of rain and low on the eastern hori­zon, the sun cut­ting across my path, the pave­ment dry­ing. I didn’t grab any­one by the ass be­cause they looked good and they were walk­ing in front of me.

An un­set­tled day, with clouds one minute, sun the next, wind up in your face quickly when you turn a cor­ner. If it rains later and I take the bus to keep from get­ting soaked, I won’t press my leg up against an at­trac­tive seat­mate, just be­cause they are there and I feel that I can.

I had a ham sandwich, the ham left over from Thanks­giv­ing, and that lit­tle green baby leaf let­tuce that doesn’t ever have grit on it. Hy­dro­ponic, I guess.

I worked on the com­puter, re­search­ing and writ­ing col­umns and ed­i­to­ri­als. I didn’t stop even once to use an anony­mous Twitter han­dle to call a woman an ugly fat bitch.

I had cof­fee. Two cups. I didn’t feel the need to send threat­en­ing elec­tronic mes­sages be­cause I felt re­jected, be­cause a woman didn’t leap at my ad­vances within the ar­bi­trary time­frame I’d set.

I man­aged to send out tweets on my Twitter ac­count, and read other so­cial me­dia post­ings, re­spond­ing oc­ca­sion­ally, which seems to be my way. But I didn’t send out an un­so­licited “dick pic” and then call some­one a les­bian be­cause they weren’t in­ter­ested in a re­la­tion­ship with me.

Did I men­tion I work in an of­fice full of peo­ple — peo­ple of both sexes?

I didn’t de­cide that what some­one else was wear­ing was a clear in­vi­ta­tion for me to pro­pose we have sex. I don’t gen­er­ally think of cloth­ing as a mode of la­tent sex­ual in­vi­ta­tion; I like to think of what peo­ple are wear­ing as “clothes.”

When I walked home, the sky was filled with the tufts of fat clouds that I think of as prairie sky, the kind of clouds that seem to make the bowl of the sky arch higher.

I didn’t cat­call any­one, didn’t whis­tle at them. Not one “hey baby” crossed my lips.

Maybe you want to ar­gue that men and women are wired dif­fer­ently, think dif­fer­ently.

But it doesn’t give any­one a li­cence to abuse their po­si­tion or their power.

I have hired em­ploy­ees, have signed con­tracts, have given peo­ple a chance to show how hard they’d work. I didn’t propo­si­tion them, ask for mas­sages, or feel that my hir­ing them gave me per­mis­sion to com­ment on their ap­pear­ance. I have never once in­ter­viewed a woman for a po­si­tion while wear­ing only a bathrobe.

What the hell is wrong with men?

It doesn’t mat­ter if I have daugh­ters or not. Hav­ing a daugh­ter only lets me put my­self in some­one else’s shoes more quickly. The im­por­tant thing for you, for ev­ery­one, is to wear those shoes, just to imag­ine what it’s like to be the tar­get of a preda­tor.

All the things I didn’t do, weren’t re­ally that dif­fi­cult to avoid.

I didn’t do them yes­ter­day, and I won’t do them to­mor­row.

But some­one did. Lots of peo­ple did.

Ask any woman you know if they’ve been propo­si­tioned when they ap­plied for a job, or if they’ve had some­one ran­domly ex­pose them­selves.

Ask if they’ve been stalked or be­lit­tled or in­sulted on the in­ter­net by some­one who ei­ther couldn’t take no for an an­swer, or couldn’t even come up with a co­gent ar­gu­ment to ad­vance their own point of view.

This be­hav­iour — this be­hav­iour by men — shouldn’t be mat­ter-of-fact. It shouldn’t ever be ac­cept­able, and it should in no way be nor­mal­ized.

And if you’ve done it, you should be ashamed of your­self.

Pe­riod. SaltWire Net­work

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