A couple of days ago I became aware of the case of a Georgia high school student who has been suspended for a year, accused of sexual harassment for hugging a teacher. This suspension means that he won’t be eligible for a lacrosse scholarship he was counting on to attend college, which in turn makes everyone feel sorry for the kid.
I feel something quite different.
We are not talking about a seven or five year old who is still learning how to express his predilection for a particular play or classmate appropriately (like another recent scandal on inappropriate touching and school suspensions, but that’s a topic for another post).
We are talking about a pretty much full grown man–in a matter of mere months, this student will be able to vote, enroll in the military, etc. This guy is old enough to start planning for college and to understand the value–if not outright necessity–of obtaining a scholarship.
Quite likely, and going by simple odds, this guy is also sexually active
The teacher claims she’s told him before not to touch or hug her, and yet he excuses his behaviour with, “I was thinking that maybe she had a bad day or something,” as if that is reason enough to violate the personal space of someone who has, already, told you to keep your distance. Her wishes mean nothing to him.
A guy touches a woman, she doesn’t like it–pulls away, pushes him, tells him not to do it. He does it again, and again, until she gives up–then he escalates the behaviour. These guys? They know what they are doing–they may not be able to articulate it enough to explain it to others, but they are self aware enough to understand the clear no they are given, they just don’t give a shit about it.
I agree, wholeheartedly, with Thomas at Yes Means Yes: this type of man understands perfectly well when told no. Their insistence is not due to lack of understanding, is an attempt to find out what it takes to wear their target down, to go from a clear “no” to a “alright, if this will make you go away.”
This, I think, is the kind of behaviour that, given enough time, escalates into Steubenville.
The kid has been told directly not to do this, but his mother defends him, claiming the consequences are out of proportion with the offense, because she wasn’t told this was a problem. So what? He was told, repeatedly, that such behaviour is not appropriate.
Remember all the people defending those poor rapists, and lamenting how their lives were ruined by the mean, mean unconscious, drunk girl they raped? After all, she didn’t say no–yet, when a woman does say no, this is not appropriate, as this teacher is doing, we call it draconian and disproportionate.
Note that, in the video above, the only one who gets that this kid is testing the boundaries with a female teacher, is the guy in the group–we women are the worst when it comes to defending the poor guy and blaming the victim.