"No" Means "No"... Even If You're Famous
The average human being thinks of sex anywhere from every 7 seconds to 10 times a day, depending on which study you believe. In addition to organic sexual thoughts, we are all bombarded with sex in advertising, television, movies, print and any other conceivable place. So, there’s no arguing sex is a major part of our lives.
So maybe that excuses Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, Al Franken, or any of the other 55 famous people I found recently accused of some form of sexual misconduct?
Rather than address each of the accused and their charge of wrongdoing, which would be nearly impossible, I’d like to speak to this epidemic in general.
We all have strong sexual desires. We can all think of someone we know or have seen that gives us a burning sensation down in our stomach. Our thoughts instantly turn to late night Cinemax programming and we can physically feel the desire we have for them raging throughout our bodies. Varying in frequency and intensity from person to person, this is a fairly normal human experience.
Just because we as humans experience those instances, doesn’t give us the right to grab the object of our desire and try to just take it. Most of us are aware it is illegal to grab people in their private areas. Your status, success, bank account balance, or level of fame and influence does NOT exempt you from this agreed upon social, moral rule. If you are rich and famous you are probably already getting way more action than you would be if you were a regular Joe anyway (no matter how bad your looks).
I’ve coined the term peacocking to mean anytime a person shows off their best attributes in an attempt to attract a mate. We all do it. Some of us are better at it than others. Some of us attract an astonishing amount of mates even for having a poor array of colors and tail feathers, so to speak.
Being rich and famous is like being a peacock on steroids. And although I’m sure this is a nice quality for rich, famous, and powerful people to possess, believe it or not there’s still a truth that every human being at some point has to accept—No matter what you have, how good you look, what you say or do, there will always be people that will NOT want you to touch them.
Just as Steve Jobs couldn’t buy a cure for his illness even with all his wealth, the fact of the matter is nobody gets to have sexual experiences with every person they desire. So deal with it.
Now to the victims and accusers.
It’s too easy to accuse people of sexual misconduct in today’s society. If it’s been 40 years since someone “touched or groped you inappropriately,” your time to report this has expired. Hell, if we are counting any number of years when talking about your accusation of groping or grabbing, then it’s too late for you.
Also, if you think someone is joking when they ask to, say, masturbate in front of you and then they begin doing it against your will, it’s ok to speak up and say, “STOP!” We all agree that any person’s sexual “yes” can be revoked at any time even if it was a misunderstanding. It’s incumbent upon you if someone is making advances, touching, or trying to make any unwelcome moves that you SAY SOMETHING. I know many people who felt uncomfortable by someone’s advances, yet let them continue because they were too scared to say anything. I even know people who have let unwelcome advances continue because they didn’t want to hurt the advancer’s feelings. That’s preposterous. Your words and feelings have their own power, so don’t let anyone intimidate you.
Get in the habit of speaking up immediately. Make sure your verbiage is CLEAR AND CONCISE. Don’t say, “I probably should be getting home.” Instead say, “Stop right now. You’re making me uncomfortable and I want to leave.”
Unfortunately, as a former police officer, I have had the misfortune to investigate many, many false allegations of sexual misconduct. There were varying reasons for this, but I believe if any accusation can be proven false, there should be criminal and civil prosecutions to follow. Certainly many will chastise me for this, arguing it will dissuade many who are already reluctant, legitimate victims to come forward in actual cases of sexual assault, but I disagree. There has to be consequences for our actions. Falsely accusing someone of something should have repercussions, no matter the subject. It will also give real victims’ accusations more power and the support and validity they deserve.
So while sex is a big part of our world, it shouldn’t run your life. We have to be clear about what is ok and what is not. Sexual attraction and seduction has always been and always will be a dance. There are different degrees of aggressiveness which we have agreed are still ok, but none of those include making unwanted sexual advances, grabbing and touching unwilling people, or thinking you are entitled to just take whatever it is you want.
I believe the more we talk about and clarify the rules and expectations we have set as a society, the less instances we will see of deviance. This goes for any subject but it’s particularly important for sex. Think about it, and we can continue the discussion during your next sexually charged thought— in about 7 seconds.
**Steve Warneke is a retired sergeant and author of From Boy To Blue. You can find more from Steve at www.SteveWarneke.com.