Flirting vs. Consent

This morning I saw a piece on Good Morning America about the video of Melissa Thompson’s business meeting with Harvey Weinstein.

Go ahead, watch it/read it

It had me physically shouting at the television. The way this whole story is being managed makes me ill. My husband had to listen to my shouts and frustrated hair-pulling until he finally said, “Just write about it.” So here I am.

I am disgusted about this whole thing. Let’s start with the video. Ms. Thompson was brilliant for recording the meeting. Can we start with that? Here’s a list of all the things making me crazy.

  1. If Weinstein were meeting with a young man pitching a startup, would he have batted away a handshake and gone in for a groping hug? No. No he wouldn’t have.
  2. The British journalist in the aired interview asked the woman if she would admit to the flirting. SO. FUCKING. WHAT. ?! Flirting is not consent.
  3. Melissa Thompson’s business tactics are a separate discussion from an adult professional man taking advantage his powerful position to accost a woman without hesitation.
  4. The whole vibe of how the media has handled this woman coming forward with the video has me especially heated. Why is she being accused, slighted, discredited, muted because of how she handled this predator? More on this now:

There was a platform not that long ago to try and hit home “No means No”. At any point in an exchange between two people, either of those people has the basic right to say “NO.” That must be respected by the other party if that party does not want to be charged with assault.

Is this not correct? Do human beings have this basic right to their own body or not?

No means NO.

I don’t care if you are both naked, she is panting and he is about to enter your vagina with his penis. NO MEANS NO.

Does it make her a bitch? Possibly. Does it make her a tease? Maybe. Does it make her your property to do with what you please? NO. Does it make her your sexual partner? No. It makes you a felon.

The way this story is being handled is very dangerous for our teens and impressionable young people who are about to embark on a confusing, hormonal time in their lives. Anyone listening to the questioning done with this interview would think, “Gosh, you’re right, she did not stop the meeting. She actually gave permission to ‘later’ flirt with this man.”

This is not grounds for rape.

Additionally, can we acknowledge that this reprehensible and slimy exchange is something females deal with frequently? Not just adults. Teenagers, young girls, all ages have times in their lives when they are dealing with unwanted attention, unsolicited advances, distasteful aggression. It is quite possible she had dealt with a similar situation in her life which is why she stayed and continued to complete what she was there for – a business deal, not a penis.

How about instead we put the focus back where it belongs, on the disgusting advantageous behavior of the man. The fact that he permitted himself to physically harangue this woman speaks volumes of his mentality, misogyny, and predation.

Change the conversation. Stop muddling the fact that she did not bring this on herself. She did not ask to be mauled. Her mere existence does not give permission to assault her. Boys are hearing the dialogue of this story. Instead of finding fault with the presumed victim, how about we address the behavior of the predator?

If things are going to change, it is true we need to work on advocating for ourselves as women. Yes. We need to empower our girls to say “No” without fear of hurt feelings or bruised pride. Girls have value. The other side is we need to highlight the advantageous behavior of people in power. That is not relegated to Hollywood. That is the power of care giver. Boss. Supervisor. Friend. Uncle. Family member. Religious official. Investor. Teacher. Counselor.

Girls are not yours to do with what you want. They have value. They have rights. They are human beings that deserve the same respect you expect for yourself, for your daughter, for your mother, for your wife.

And most importantly, no one brings this on themselves. This is something done to a person by a person. Period.


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