Dear E. Jean: I’m a man. I am “assaulted” sexually every day by women. I’m trying to figure out how this is okay in the #MeToo era. How is there still a stigma against men speaking up? I’m a 26-year-old independent wine consultant representing world-class wineries in Northern California. At the tastings I conduct, I’ve learned to expect women to make sexy comments about the wine and progress to making sexy comments about me. I’m cool with it. I’m no longer bothered when 50-year-old women give me their phone numbers, when members of a “Girls’ Night Out” party run their hands up and down my arm, or when married women press their breasts against me for photos. Usually it’s their husbands taking the pictures.
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But I do mind when women grab my ass. I do mind when they try to kiss me on the mouth, or put their tongues in my ear and their hands down my pants. This is my career. Why is it that men aren’t speaking up, too? —Why Is This Normal?
Mr. Why: In the name of all women, I apologize. In my own name, I apologize. I suspect that many ELLE readers, some of whom have suffered horrendous sexual harassment themselves, are shocked to hear of the widespread lecherous conduct by their fellow women. My Lord! I understand after speaking with you on the phone (Reader, I called him soon after I saw his question) that the wineries you represent wouldn’t be happy if you began shouting at a lady in the middle of an elegant tasting. So, alas, my advice won’t stop the harassment entirely, but it’s a start.
Next time a woman makes a lewd remark or puts a hand on you, frown and say: “Who are you? The female Harvey Weinstein?” It’s such an ugly visual, it will jangle her self-image right down to the core of her spleen. And shut it down. So women: If you’re uncertain whether or not you are about to cross the line, take what I call the “Matt Lauer Test.” Ask yourself, “If Matt Lauer said to a woman what I’m about to say to this person, would Matt Lauer be guilty of sexual harassment?” If the answer is yes, back off.
The writer of the next letter might do well to take that test.
This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at E.Jean@AskEJean.com.