Over the past few weeks, the media has reported a flurry of incidents involving men in positions of power that range from inappropriate sexual comments down to sexual assault. The attention saw the sudden rise of the #metoo hashtag campaign became the rallying cry on social media and women from around the world shared their personal experiences of alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault at the hands of men in positions of authority.
NOTE: Referring to the comments of others as alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault in no way impugns the reality of sexual harassment and sexual assault victims endured. An allegation is a claim that has not been proven meaning it may or may not have happened and/or it may or may not have happened as the involved parties recall the situation from each one’s recollection of what may or may not have happened.
We have heard celebrities such as actor Richard Dreyfuss claim he was “horrified and bewildered” to find out that his behavior towards Jessica Teich “wasn’t consensual.” We have heard celebrities such as comedian Louis C.K. claim he thought he had permission to do what he did because he “asked the women first” before proceeding. We have heard politicians and authors and others from all walks of life admit to various levels of sexual impropriety, harassment, and assaults, and the reaction from society has been consistent: Such behavior is unacceptable, inappropriate, and unsavory.
Have you read any articles in the media claiming that using power of authority to victimize a target is acceptable? I haven’t. Have you heard any news reports claiming that subjecting a subordinate to harassment and assault is laudable? Me neither.
And this is where society’s hypocrisy is found because in the grand scheme of things, society gives its blessing to such behavior through mixed messages. I know, I know. Isn’t that surprising? Shocking, even? Confusing, without a doubt?
I realize some reading this will disagree so providing examples is the best way to show, not tell, what I mean. While I could have chosen any number of movies or books, I am using “A Christmas Wish II” to highlight where society’s blessings to mixed messages may be found. For those who are unfamiliar with the movie, I am sharing the story synopsis from four different websites with regards to this specific movie.
The first three versions provide what many would consider a wholesome story line, certain to appeal to the heartstrings of those who love romance — especially romance that could possibly result in a fairy tale ending where the young woman is swept off her feet by Prince Charming and taken to live in his palace somewhere in “happily ever after” land. The last version implies a little impropriety on the part of the billionaire.
The scene involving the mistletoe kiss, however, isn’t the tame, innocent, consensual scene you might think.
Cooper Montgomery’s on-again off-again on-again girlfriend Brittany waits in the lobby of the building where the playboy billionaire’s sister works as Editor-In-Chief of Trend Fashions magazine. Cooper Montgomery has dropped in to speak with his sister before returning to his girlfriend in the lobby However, on his way back down in the elevator, after others in the elevator have stepped off on their respective floors, he finds himself in the elevator alone with his sister’s assistant, Jenna Kingston.
No problem there so far.
Cooper notices the mistletoe hanging in the elevator just above him and Jenna. Cooper looks at Jenna in a way that can only be described as a look most women would be wary of, and perhaps a bit concerned over. Suddenly, he grabs her and plants a great, big, sloppy kiss on Jenna who initially resists before succumbing to his charms. The elevator doors swish open when the elevator reaches the lobby, and Cooper’s girlfriend, Brittany seems them locked in this passionate embrace which is quickly broken off.
So what’s the problem?
This kiss is what is the basis for this so-called “love story” where the girl eventually winds up with Prince Charming (sorry for that spoiler).
Jenna Kingston doesn’t file a police report against Cooper Montgomery for the sexual assault in the elevator. She doesn’t even tell her boss about it when advised by her boss that she’ll be working closely with the man who sexually accosted her in the elevator. To her credit, she does tell her male neighbor but based on the discussion that ensues between them, neither of them feels it’s anything bad.
Message in the movie regarding unwanted sexual attention from a complete stranger: Everyone’s good to go, and you should be so lucky as to have that happen to you someday!
Message in real life regarding unwanted sexual attention from a complete stranger: Call the police and have that person arrested, charged, found guilty of the crime, and locked away!
If society wants to put an end to the confusion, society needs to take a unified stand against behavior it deems unacceptable and inappropriate. It can’t say that sexual assault is abhorrent under certain situations but encouraged — even welcome — under other certain situations. In doing so, society is placing an unfair burden on men and women to figure out when sexual assault is all right when the fact of the matter is this: Sexual assault is never all right.
P.S. For those who are wondering, the story didn’t need that sexual assault in the elevator scene for the movie to work.