BY KATHLEEN RAVEN
The situations below are mixed up chronologically so you don’t know who did what to me. I’m not naming names. But please note: my name is on this. Life isn’t fair.
In the classroom, journalism professors exhorted students to consider the just-so balance between the public’s right to know and a person’s good name. When is it OK to rely on an anonymous source? Should the raped woman (or man) be named? Does a journalist warn a public figure that he or she is about to be exposed?
No one is exposed here — except me.
But it’s time. I want men in professional settings to know what they cannot do.
1) You cannot suggest that you would like to have sex with me;
2) You cannot kiss me;
3) You cannot enter my private room when I said, “Please do not enter now.”;
4) You cannot stroke my calf muscles while I stand next to your desk;
5) You cannot tell me that you love me;
6) You cannot say “If I was years younger, I’d be hanging out with you all the time.”
7) You cannot make off-color jokes about men and women in their underwear;
8) You cannot tell me privately, as my instructor, while I’m sitting in your health class, that women can have more orgasms than men;
9) You cannot force me to sit in on your lap in the office;
10) You cannot massage my shoulders in front of the entire newsroom;
11) You cannot talk about sex with me if I have not invited the topic;
12) You cannot take me out to dinner if I have not expressed the slightest desire to do so;
13) You cannot drive places with me in the car, groping my legs the whole time;
14) You cannot ask me to meet me after work and suggest monetary compensation to have sex;
15) You cannot ask to take my picture, asking me to pose by myself, at a conference, so you can have it for later;
16) You cannot meet me for coffee under the guise of wanting to talk about a potential internship, only to talk only about yourself, and later act like I don’t exist;
17) You cannot take advantage of the fact that I am, by default, a nice person. I have a hearing loss since birth that requires me to concentrate hard (lip-read) on what you are saying. It may come across that I am acting like you are the only person in the room, but really, even with my hearing aids, I am simply trying to hear you;
18) You cannot call me bad names in an attempt to control me;
19) You cannot ignore the fact the fact that I am married;
20) You cannot invite me, alone, to your mountain house;
21) You can not rape me.
All of these things have happened to me, from age 15 to 30, let the forces of the universe be my witnesses. Do I have it on tape? No. Is it my word against theirs? Yes. But I’m a journalist. I love facts. I treat them with utmost respect.
I know that until Power dynamics must change. Women will always have do NOT have to put up with “Hey, nice smile!” “Not only are you smart, you are beautiful!” “You look good today in that outfit.” “Nice story – did anyone ever tell you how beautiful you are?” That’s NOT fine. I don’t want men (and women) to read this and think I have to be treated with kid gloves.
Throughout my career, I have forgiven. I have tried, against criticism, to be friends with some of these men in my career. I’m sure I have “led men on” out of pure terror. But the moment a mistake – in my book, one of these 21 things – is committed, then I’ve lost all trust.
I count among my professional and personal acquaintances men (and women) whose company I look forward to and enjoy. They treat me with respect. They have not done any of the 21 things.
Women, how will we support each other if not now? If not now, when?
Men, next time, I’m dropping names.
UPDATE 10/16/2013 at 5:16 PM: A fellow female science writer rightfully said that not even comments should be tolerated. I’ve updated this post to reflect that.