I guess my problem here is that discomfort is the standard being applied, not harassment or other sexual misconduct. Feeling uncomfortable because of what other people do is part of life, not evidence you’ve been “violated”. And I do feel if others are making us feel uneasy it’s our responsibility to say so rather than assume they are just being jerks, sexist, or whatever. Give others the benefit of the doubt first and only begin resorting to accusations if the situation escalates. We’ve all said or done things that make others uncomfortable, including violating their personal space. And yes, if everybody spoke up for themselves when these things happened it certainly would have an impact on our culture.

In addition, I have a real ethical problem with people that claim to care about what other people feel while simultaneously circulating photos of others and proclaiming they know what’s going on between the two individuals in the photo without bothering to ask either party first. Imagine if I found an awkward or unflattering photo of you with a male friend and posted it on the Internet using the label “creepy so and so”. The only social change being promoted here is insensitivity and a mob mentality.

Finally, I think if the rule is not touching women (or anybody else) “whether they like it or not” without their permission the only options open to us are to ask before any contact at all (not practical or ever going to happen) or don’t touch anybody, but particularly women, at all. Both children and adults learn what’s appropriate by receiving feedback. Keep in mind, we’re not talking about rape or harassment here, but about people’s individual comfort levels, values, and norms. These will vary from person-to-person and culture to culture and these will change over time. If something was appropriate or tolerated in 2010 but not in 2019, we don’t post about 2010 behavior in 2019 to demonstrate someone “just doesn’t get it.” Communicating your comfort level when it is being infringed upon treats the episode like a potential learning experience for the other person and will change the culture if enough people take that approach. Shaming someone publicly, especially in a politically charged context, and posting a bunch of photos of people that are complete strangers to you to make your point just puts others on the defensive. Furthermore, in addition to being just plain wrong it’s also very immature.

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US citizen residing in British Columbia, Canada. Degrees include anthropology and environmental studies. Activism, politics, science, nature.

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