#TooFar?  - 11 June 2018 - By, Jessica Gauthier

#TooFar? - 11 June 2018 - By, Jessica Gauthier

Full disclosure: I’m a chick. And you may not like what I’m about to say. I’m a 30 something year old, mother of two and I have a vagina. And you men are all afraid of it now.

I feel like I should apologize to all the decent guys out there. I’m sorry guys, you can’t flirt with me anymore. (And middle age men everywhere weep) But seriously you can't. You can't flirt with me, or any other woman for that matter, because I’m not sure what constitutes as harassment now, and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be flattered or offended.

Here’s the thing. I am a feminist. I really truly am. I believe that men and women should be 100% equal. This does not mean I believe that women should be put on a pedestal as untouchable and holier than thou. This does not mean that I believe women are better than men or should have more rights. Equal. Treated as equals. Look up what that means. Here I’ll save you a minute. It means the same.

I also have a few harsh truths for you here. Bill Cosby is an Asshat. Gian Gomeshi is a douche-pickle, and Harvey Weinstein needs to be castrated. Those men (and I use that term loosely) are bad, bad men. They have been accused (and charged) with doing disgusting, degrading and awful things to multiple women. There is no arguing that. These are facts.  

However. At what point do we draw the line between sexual harassment and a shitty date?. Where is the stopping point after which flirting is no longer flirting and something more nefarious?. At what mark am I supposed to stop laughing at the risque jokes and start feeling attacked by them? Because I honestly don’t know anymore. I have been married for 17 years so I’ve been out of the dating game for quite some time. However, I was a server for the better part of a decade, so I do understand casual flirting. I also understand that a little casual flirting goes a long way-- sometimes tip wise.

My best friend is also a server and refuses to play that game. She’s pleasant, hospitable and good at her job, but objects to using her feminine wiles to up the gratuity. And for a long time I was completely o.k. with the difference between our two styles. But now....now I have guilt. Did I do a disservice to my gender by perpetuating the systematicsystemic demoralization of women by winking at the 60- year old who pays the bill with the hopes he wouldn’t stiff me (pardon the pun). Maybe. But probably fucking not. But I don’t know.

Its all such a mind fuck to me at this point. Like I said, I feel bad for the decent guys out there because how the hell do you date in a world where if you try to hit third base, and she says no, even if you stop, you can still be called a sexual harasser years later? We are in a time where if you were a dickhead 15-years ago and you made an inappropriate comment, your entire career can be destroyed today because of it.

I pray to god that some of the shit I have said and did in my 20's never gets dredged up because I was a moron 15- years ago.  And let's be real, all it takes is one bad Facebook memory to ruin my day now. I ran into this kind of issue with a co-worker, that I thought maybe shouldn't get a job with me because he was a shithead 20-years ago. My boss at the time was like “Jesus Jess, I hope no one ever judges you that harshly for something you did two decades ago.” It’s not fair to bring up mistakes from the past and use them to destroy someone's life today. Mistakes are how we learn and grow and mature.

Caveat to that. Murderers, rapist, anything involving a kid or an animal, and repeat offenders do not get this pass. It takes a screwed up mind to commit those crimes. That shit doesn'tdoesnt get fixed by getting mature. Guy who slapped my ass at the bar when he was 19, probably does not need to be arrested at 39. Those are different crimes.

ACK!! But that right there is the problem!!! Who gets to decide the severity and longevity of a crime like sexual harassment?. Just because I’ve moved on from some of that shitty stuff guys said or did to me years ago, doesn’t mean Bobbi-sue got over her shit. Does that make Bobbi Sue wrong? Hell no.

But what are we doing to the victims of rape and sexual assault who are dealing with a lifetime of physical and emotional trauma, while we speak of what they survived in the same breath as someone who got whistled at on the streets?. These are not the same fucking thing and you are belittling and minimizing what happened to the survivors by suggesting that it is.

Side note, if Morgan Freeman was Bob Johnson who worked at the Esso on Granville street, do you think anyone would have fucking blinked at the comments that his career is being ripped apart over?. The answer is no. We would have all just been like, oh that Bob. Such a dirty old guy. No one would have demanded his career be demolished, and I promise you, it would have NEVER made national news. And for the record, did anyone ever tell Morgan Freeman he was being a dirty old man? To use a ridiculously simplistic analogy, if I have schmutz on my face, and no one tells me I have schmutz on my face, you can't get mad at me for leaving said schmutz on my face. (Incidentally, if there is a Bob Johnson who works at the Esso, my apologies for bringing you into this. Swear to god it was random)

Is this this toxic masculinity I keep hearing about? Have we been trained as a society to let things happen when we should be angry and offended by it? I used to call people “my love” all the time and I had one older lady who was PISSED and offended by this. I didn’t understand it, but is she valid in her offense? Or is it simply a matter of her saying, ‘excuse me, I dont think you should refer to people in such a familiar way. It’s offensive.” If the next time she came in I still called her my love, THEN she can get pissed.

My point (and I do have one) is this question. Have we let the pendulum swing so far the other way that we have actually made the situation worse? Because at the end of the day, I like to be flirted with. I like to flirt back. But I feel like we have reached a point where we now have to police every damn word that comes out of our mouths because we have opened this pandora's box of offense and have been trying so damn hard to make sure that every female is heard and believed, that we have forgotten to take into consideration the male lives we are destroying in our quest for equality. Men are guilty until proven innocent, and every man is a perverted bastard who is one dark alley away from raping someone.

I appreciate that woman need to feel safe, but Jesus. So do men. At what point do we start making women take some responsibility for their own feelings. If a guy says something that offends me, shouldn’t I say, “hey, guy, shut your actual face, that shit isn’t cool.” How are we equal if we cant voice our opinions and feelings?.

Contrary to popular belief, boys aren’t mind readers, and women aren’t always transparent. Sometimes signals get missed or misconstrued and there is some dialogue that has to happen. Provided that at the end of the conversation both parties have been respected, there should be no issue. I feel like all of this is actual taking the power away from women by making it sound like we can't stand up for ourselves.

If you slap my ass and I tell you to piss off and you do it again, you are committing sexual assault and I will kick your ass. If I tell you a blue coloured joke and you reciprocate with one, I cannot get offended a week later when you tell me another one. I set the standard and need to take responsibility for my part in this.    

This is not a popular opinion to have, BTW. I have to whisper it sideways and get ready to defend myself any time I ask these questions because it’s not okay to be a woman who is kind of taking the man's side. But ladies, I have a husband and a teenage son. I am scared for them to walk out the damn door every day because they are friendly guys and I worry that a smile or a “hey can I help you with your bags” to the wrong woman will be an assault charge. You think I'm kidding, but how damn close are we already to that?