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Ridiculous excuses people make for sexual harassment

April is sexual assault awareness month and its all about creating awareness and educating the society on how to prevent sexual violence. However, sexual assault is not only physical, and yet, for some people, the #MeToo movement is just too much. Chebet Korir expounds

1. #MeToo is just a “male witch hunt.”

The Time’s Up and #MeToo have given a voice to many women who had kept mum over sexual assault and harassment.

And yet in what has been called the age of enlightenment, the likes of Woody Allen cautioned against a “witch hunt” in the wake of Weinstein. This sentiment has now been echoed by many who are justifying assault.

2. Women ask for it in how they dress

This is a favourite argument among the ladies of the old guard who fancy themselves refreshingly blunt, or just “one of the boys.

3. It wasn’t a big deal

We have an imaginary ladder of crimes that says rape is the most serious one, while groping, verbal harassment, online harassment and other sex crimes that aren’t rape can be shrugged off.

Different actions can certainly affect people differently, but it’s not always that linear. And no matter how an incident compares to other ones, it’s still serious. As long as someone;s boundaries have been violated , it’s still a crime, and still inexcusable.

4. It was a misunderstanding

People accused of sexual misconduct and their lawyers will sometimes say that the victim sent mixed messages or led them to believe they wanted something they didn’t.

But “misunderstandings” don’t excuse sexual assault, because if you don’t understand what someone wants, you don’t go ahead and do something to them anyway. And if you don’t get a clear yes, don’t just assume you understand. That’s one reason it’s so important to communicate during any sexual encounter.

5. I was drunk

Being drunk is something else you are also responsible for, not a mitigating circumstance that allows you to plead to a lesser offense.

6. She started it

Harassment is all in the eye of the beholder. However, it must be a reasonable eye. She, who willingly participates in swapping sexy jokes today, may find difficulties with her hostile environment tomorrow.

7. Men just can’t help themselves

This excuse is usually made when the perpetrator is a man, due to the stereotype that men’s sexual urges are impossible to control. But sexual assault and harassment are not motivated by sexual desire alone.

They’re motivated by the goal of asserting power over somebody else. Feeling sexual desire and not acting on it is completely possible no matter who you are, and nobody owes anyone any help satisfying their urges.

8. They are generally awkward

Another common excuse for sexual misconduct, particularly verbal harassment, is that the person was too socially inept to know they’d done something wrong. But there’s a difference between being socially awkward and being a creep.

Once again, sexual harassment and assault are committed with the intention of asserting power over someone. Even if someone genuinely doesn’t realize that what they’re saying is inappropriate, they should be called out on it so they don’t do it in the future, not excused.

9. I was led on

It supposedly mitigates sexual assault if the victim has slept with someone before, kissed them, married them, or invited them to their room. But no past consent amounts to consent for a future activity.

Consenting to one thing isn’t “leading someone on” unless you believe that thing implies consent for something else, which it doesn’t. You need to get consent for everything you do, and nothing excuses not doing that.

10. I am sick

Of course, when the allegations become impossible to deny, some abusers see no option beyond making a full-throated, self-abasing confession.

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