Recently, I was listening to a report on WHYY, which is an NPR station based in Philadelphia. The topic was Philly Men Redefining Masculinity in the #MeToo Era. In the interview, there was a quote from a man who said he didn’t want to get #metoo-ed, as if it was a verb. He didn’t want to bear the label of being inappropriate. Having been raised as a cisgender woman, I have wondered what it is like for men who have concerns about being accused of crossing a line. I know that patterns of social interaction are well established and require re-imagining what appropriate physical contact with another person would look like.
An important rule of thumb is not only, no means no, but only a full and resounding yes means yes, and either of the parties is welcome to change their minds at any point along the way. It is what I taught my now 31-year-old son that, to the best of my knowledge, he has adhered to. My daughter-in-law thanked me for raising a gentleman and ‘the man of her dreams.’ I reminded him that the rule goes for his needs too. No one gets to touch him without his consent. This was a discussion we had initially when he was a pre-teen. I don’t recall that conversation when I was young, although it was implied. Blessedly, I have not had the traumatic encounters that others I know have had. Sadly, no one should be the exception.