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Amy Dickinson: Woman wonders why others report #MeToo moments

November 13, 2018

Dear Amy: Responding to questions regarding whether women should confront long-ago unwanted sexual experiences, when I was a teenager (I’m female), I experienced my share of illicit kisses, inappropriate gestures from men and sexual innuendos. Today’s climate of reportage makes women think they should consider bringing these old activities once again to light. To what purpose?

My own thoughts are that words, caresses and even kisses (if not of a violent nature) are not that big a deal.

Human beings are animals (biologically), and sex is a powerful drive.

Teenagers ooze hormones. Our animal natures drive us to kissing, touching and talking about “forbidden” stuff.

Only if something seriously coercive occurred in the past that involved restraint, physical injury or threat of terror — would I waste time trying to rectify it now.

As the old saying goes, “You live and you learn.” — Older and Wiser

Dear Older: If your youthful sexual experiences, whether illicit or inappropriate, didn’t bother you then and don’t bother you now, then lucky you! Go forth and prosper! However, you may be conflating “hormonal” teen activity, which would be consensual, with other “illicit” activity (“forbidden” or illegal).

You shouldn’t feel pressured to confront or report something that happened many years ago, unless, of course, you suspect the person who was sexual with you would have gone on to actually victimize someone else — someone who lacked your resiliency, or who didn’t consent. Then you would be morally obligated to confront and report it.

Women are coming forward now because they/we are — basically — mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Back in the day, many parents, teachers, clergy, etc., reflected the overall prevailing culture and were so successful at silencing girls, that girls pretty much silenced themselves. I believe that many women today are inspired by their own experiences as parents to try to ensure that their children experience their own sexuality free of force or coercion. This includes the freedom to experiment and to make mistakes, and the responsibility to face the natural consequences stemming from their own actions.

For any person, finding and using your voice is the gateway not only to personal power and self-esteem, but also to compassion toward others. And so even if you choose not to report, you shouldn’t judge those who do.

Dear Amy: I went to a party that a co-worker was throwing.

I got really drunk and made out with her ex (not knowing that he was her ex).

Before making out with him, I asked a girlfriend, who was there, if this guy was good people and she said yes.

Unfortunately, the next day, I found out that he was my co-worker’s ex.

I sent my co-worker a message right away, apologizing.

She replied that it was a wild night and not to worry.

I thought we were good, but I just heard that she is still mad at me. Everyone at work knows about it. What should I do? — Worried

Dear Worried: As the holiday party season approaches, let your question ring a cautionary note: The impact of behavior at office parties will outlast even the meanest hangover.

I love your instinct to ask your friend if this guy was “good people” before making out with him, although asking this question while drunk skews the results of the survey.

At this point, although you gain nothing by drawing further attention to your behavior, you could ask your co-worker (in person, not through text or email), “I know I already apologized about my behavior with your ex, but are you sure you’re OK?”

After that — let it lie.

Dear Amy: “Guilty” wrote to you, describing a hellish childhood with a mother who was physically and emotionally abusive, as well as sexually exploitive of her children. All these years later, Guilty and his siblings want to try to do something about this. Their elderly mother is active in her church.

Your response was thorough and correct — until the end of your answer, where you say, “If your main impulse is to ruin her reputation in her church community, then I don’t think you should do so.”

What the heck? Why should they care about her reputation? — Upset

Dear Upset: I cautioned this group of siblings to contact clergy, especially if there was any possibility that their mother had contact with children there.

Otherwise, I considered the possibility that contact with a spiritual community might be an important factor keeping their mother safe from harming others.

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