Last week a male friend shared with me that since #MeToo he is confused and uncertain on dates. Should he initiate the first kiss? Although in the past he would have felt fine kissing his date, now he doesn’t.
This same male friend also shared with me his own #MeToo moment. It happened several months ago. He was at a sex party and made his boundaries very clear to everyone there. Then when he drank too much and passed out, three women decided to violate his boundaries. The women thought it was funny. He did not. Like many men, he feels like he doesn’t have “the right” to feel violated even though he does.
He is my friend and I love him. And it’s very clear to me that he was sexually assaulted. But that’s probably not a word he would be comfortable with. And yet, he feels hurt and angry about what was done to him.
As a bisexual woman I feel uniquely capable of relating to my male friend’s feelings and therefore both sides of #MeToo. On the one hand I am a survivor of on-the-job sexual harassment as well as date rape. And on the other hand, when I was dating women I was often confused about initiating a kiss or other sexual contact. And that was before #MeToo. I can only imagine how confusing it must be now.
Emotions are very high on this topic. Some women are enraged. Others shrug their shoulders as if to say “get over it.” Some men claim #MeToo isn’t affecting their lives at all. Others have decided to stay home and avoid dating all together.
In my opinion. #MeToo has ushered in a cultural shift of dramatic proportions. It played a huge role in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings and it will be a powerful factor in the US midterm elections next month.
But what I am most passionate about is how #MeToo is impacting individual lives and gender relations. How can men and women find common ground and move toward a shared understanding of consent? How do we achieve true consent without losing romance, sexual intrigue and even flirting?
Got any ideas? Want to share your #MeToo stories or comments? I am writing a book about this and if you are cool with being in the book, I might even use something you say. But even if you don’t want to be quoted, your thoughts and feelings will help a lot. We are in this together.
You can read my latest effort to thread the needle on this topic and find our way forward so that all genders feel safe and respected and loved. Just click here.