In 2017 we saw the emergence of the “Me Too” (#metoo) era. For those of you living under a rock, Me Too is a movement in which women are opening up about being sexually assaulted or sexually harassed. Women all over the world have started to share their stories of being verbally harassed, physically assaulted or violated by men. Many of these stories involve women being violated by men in positions of power over them, such as employers. While this movement has given women everywhere the courage and foundation to finally speak out about being abused by men, it has left many men wondering how to navigate their interactions with women. We'd like to give some insight as to how both men and women should approach dating in the “Me Too” Era.
Let's start off by saying this: Men, if you do not know the difference between a consensual interaction and sexual assault, we have a problem. We do understand that men are raised in a society in which hyper-masculinity is put on a pedestal and women's bodies are treated like tangible objects. This can create dating scenarios in which the lines get blurred: “Does she want it or not? I guess I'll just go for it…” While this is a mistake that many men have made, it is not okay. Assuming that a woman wants to be touched by you is wrong. Assuming that you can just take what you want from a woman's body is wrong. For this reason, communication is the best tip for dating in the “Me Too” Era. Do not assume that a woman wants you do to anything to her. Instead, actually verbally ask her what she wants. Ask her if it is okay before you touch her in any way. Ask her if she is comfortable. Ask her if she wants to continue. For those of you that have grown up in ignorance, this is called consent. If she tells you to leave her alone, or that is she not comfortable with what you are doing, that means you stop.
Now, it is important for women to communicate also when it comes to these situations. In the past, many women felt intimidated or afraid to speak out when put in uncomfortable situations. Thankfully, “Me Too” is giving women the courage to speak out. If a guy is doing something you don't like, tell him. Tell him to stop. Tell him you're done. Tell him to leave you alone. Whatever it is, don't be afraid. Just tell him you're done. If he doesn't stop, and you are unable to remove yourself from the situation, tell someone what happened immediately. Tell a friend. Tell a family member. Tell the authorities. Do not be afraid to speak out about someone assaulting or harassing you.
All in all, communication cannot solve every instance of men violating women. There are people that don't seem to understand “no means no.” For those of you who do not want to contribute to the cycle of violence against women, learn to communicate!