Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Inappropriate? Maybe. Sexual Harassment? Hell No.

So apparently  Amanda Marcotte thinks that a teenager Patrick Farves asking Miss America Nina Davuluri to the prom is sexual harassment.

First off let me say that I don't think the guy is totally innocent here. Apparently the school knew that he was planning on asking her and had warned him not to do so, but he did anyway. Based on that I really don't it was out of line to take action against him. A 3 day suspension seems harsh but I do think he should have gotten punished in some way. But that's not the real issue here. To me the real issue is that rather than this topic being laid to rest it would seem Marcotte sees it as a chance to make leaps and bounds in order get more readers.

One response included : … I really wish people would stop acting like it’s cute when teenage boys sexually harass older women.
12:09 PM - 21 Apr 2014
When asked to explain how asking someone out constitutes harassment she replies with:
Pestering someone with unwanted sexual requests for the purpose of making them uncomfortable is harassment.
5:24 PM - 21 Apr 2014
See what she does there? It would seem that the running start for her leap consists of:

1. Concluding that asking her out is "pestering" aka getting on her nerves.
2. Presuming that wanting to ask someone out to the prom inherently means they want sex.
3. Presuming that wanting to ask someone out to the prom inherently means they are trying to make them uncomfortable.

First off I think we should let the person being asked if they are pestered by such a question. Davuluri has posted on her Facebook page that she has reached out to Farves' school asking them to reconsider the punishment. Does that sound like someone that was pestered? She could have easily walked away from the situation and given no fucks about it.

I can't be the only one that sees the oddness of Marcotte saying that the only reason he asked her out was for sex. It can't just because he wanted to go on a date with Miss God Damn America, one of the most popular women in the country. Maybe he wanted to have a genuine one on one conversation with her. Perhaps he just wanted to dance with her. Yeah its possible that he was just asking in hopes of having sex with her but I don't see Marcotte offering any proof of that. Maybe she thinks, "Come on, he's a teenage boy!" is proof enough. You'd think someone that prides herself in breaking gender stereotypes wouldn't believe such a thing.

Presuming that he did it to make her uncomfortable sort of contradicts the "he was in it for the sex angle". Unless she is saying he went into the situation thinking, "If she says yes then I'll get to bang her. If she says no, then at least I made her feel uncomfortable"?

And speaking of "unwanted". Shouldn't that be Davuluri's decision? Who are we to say that even if Farve's intentions were sexual, she would have turned him down? I guess women "daring to be sexual" is only okay when the dare is an approved one right?*

Who knows maybe that's just what she was thinking he was thinking.

What I'm getting at is while his behavior was very inappropriate (but only because he violated a previously issued warning to not do so) it was NOT sexual harassment. These are exactly the kind of overreaching, hyperbolic, reaching claims that get in the way of real conversation and change. If you want to say he was out of line then do so. But please do so without reaching for words that have no place in the conversation.

* - This is presuming that Patrick Farves is of consenting age of course.