For the confused: Sexual harassment and assault have nothing to do with the erotic. They are the core expressions of a pure power dynamic, a form of bullying and manipulation by immature and weak people who can sometimes become very dangerous, even violent.
If you do not consent, do not enjoy, that is harassment and often assault. The harasser, the stalker, the abuser, the rapist, the murderer – they persist despite (and often because of) resistance and lack of consent. They don’t take “no” for an answer. They are wielding power aggressively to intimidate you because they think they can. They are not paying attention to you as a full human being, but only to their own internal dynamics. You are then just an object, not another person with their own boundaries and thoughts and feelings and rights.
Mutual seduction is NOT that. Flirting is NOT that. An expression of interest, or even a sexual advance, is NOT that, in most cases, unless it creates a fearful toxic situation where you are somehow trapped. If you move away, or say “hey” or “no thanks” and they still won’t leave you alone – and the culture supports that in thousands of ways – then that is what is being addressed by “me, too.”
Awareness is a small step, easily rationalized, denied, and rejected. With awareness, pay attention.
With growth, discard previous assumptions and construct better questions.
With better understanding, understand and disrupt toxic behavior.
With more insight, communicate to others when you see similiar inappropriate behavior and structures (whenever you can).
Navigate as best you can with what you know, and hold yourself accountable in the mirror.
Know thyself, and listen to others.
Know your friends, family and tribes.
Name what you know, in the active tense.
Ask more questions.
See where toxic things structurally and institutionally intersect.
Walking the narrow edges of fractal pathways requires an ethics of compassion, footsteps chosen or constructed with kindness and care. Yet I am frustrated in all directions, still scenting the air for those elusive golden threads, the sweet spots of thriving that are at once so fragile and strong. I cannot help but believe in them, although I trip over them so seldom now.
I wonder how I can sometimes be so discouraged by contexts that show little tolerance of complexity and nuance; and yet so yearn to express provocative bluntness.
My intellectual hubby sent this comment to me today in a slightly different context, but it resonated with these deeper concerns of priority, discernment, focus, and compassion for myself as well as others. The uncharacteristic mushiness of it is tempered beautifully by the hint of menace at the end.
Always returning again to Kierkegaard, trying to swim beyond resignation into courage.
This is just to capture some initial thoughts about a very complex problem.
I think it’s difficult for people to understand how much education costs now. The situation has changed so very much over a generation that costs and priorities do deserve some analysis. Our parents’ generation could earn enough over the summer job to pay for college, and no-one had to accrue substantial debt. Housing was much less exensive, too. Sometimes the loan is more for room and board than anything else, but who can really live on $10k a year anyway?
At the same time colleges are not paying adjuncts (who are more and more of the teaching resources, not full time professors) a living wage. There are fewer paths to a career in higher education. College presidents and upper administrators can make millions, as do football coaches, but not the people who have actually earned their status as world experts in their fields. There’s always enough money for the campus landscaping, but maybe not so much for the faculty.
The nation as a whole suffers in terms of our brain trust against the world stage, and some of our best and brightest are fleeing. Skills training is fine, but it is insufficient – even for business. Occasionally some higher levels of discernment – the kind that come from a well-rounded education – are needed.
The student loan program as it exists is without any consumer rights at all. What few forgiveness programs are in place count any forgiveness amount as taxable income. We’re at a point now where federal money in later life is impacted – loans can be taken out of social security first. If you’re not yet retired, you’d better be doing very well indeed to pay your loan and your children’s loans too (as is now required, at least in part).
The way the loans are designed, most of the payment is toward revolving interest (accrues daily) not principal. Hardly any of my payment goes toward the balance. 8 years paying, not much of a drop.
Currently national student loan debt exceeds even credit card debt. For many, there is no escape from it in a lifetime. At this point, most would need to send their children out of the country to get an advanced degree.
College only for the rich … all the gains for education since WWII thrown away so, so easily.
It’s really been a rough several months. I haven’t been writing here. Either my writing is offline, part of an eventual project waiting for the right ending, or else it’s therapeutic writing that really no-one else should see.
I’ve been personally challenged in a number of ways, and have learned several more *very* difficult but very valuable lessons. I’ve had to rearrange my priorities and go back to basics on some skills that I haven’t had to focus on in quite some time.
While I can’t get into the circumstances, I CAN jot down a few things that have lowered my stress level, improved my health, and helped me to accept and release things that I do not have the power to improve, heal or enhance.
Be calm. Be just as calm as you can, no matter what.
Do not get cornered. Do not allow yourself to be pushed into a defensive stance.