Preparing daughters for the minefields of harassment


As the father of only girls, I’ve always worried about how my young ladies will be treated by the males they encounter through life.

I’ve often told them to be careful with boys, as I know how boys think. After all, I was a boy, once upon a time. And the short answer is boys don’t always think, and they’ll try to bring you along on some bad decisions when they’re not thinking.

My shortcut to them was a word of encouragement, that dumb boys eventually grow up to become responsible men.

Leave it to the world to prove their dad wrong again. Some dumb boys never grow up. Apparently, they just become older, dumber boys.

The list grows longer nearly every day, it seems, especially since the bombshell accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein seemed to open up the debate that victims shouldn’t stay silent. Joining the list of the accused were actor Kevin Spacey, screenwriter and director James Toback, actor Ben Affleck, even former President George H.W. Bush. Current President Donald Trump was caught on an old tape talking about groping women.

Journalists aren’t exempt either, with the head of NPR, an ABC News political director, and now Charlie Rose, of PBS interview show and “CBS This Morning” fame.

As it turns out, some boys never grow up, if any of these allegations are true.

So what’s a father to do? Tell his daughters never to trust anyone? They’ve already heard that line from their borderline paranoid (or, in other words, journalist) father.

I don’t want to overreact either. I fear sexual harassment could become an overreported thing, where people make sweeping accusations that taunt the pain of the the real victims.

After all, who hasn’t misread a signal while in the dating game? Someday I’ll be able to tell the story of the woman who brought a date with her when I invited her to a baseball game as a date. But there’s a long distance between that and the accusations Rose made assistants come to his house, took a shower and walked past them sans pants.

I don’t want to see the differences between men and women to be lost, either. They bring unique perspectives to any problem. Diversity makes us stronger.

I don’t envy my daughters growing up in this era. For a long time, “boys will be boys” was accepted in the world. As women prove themselves equals in each line of work, there will be old-school chauvinists trying to hold them back. I pray they’ll overcome that, and the experience will just make them stronger in their pursuits.

The challenge is for women to take the high road, not sinking to the same sexual politics they’re trying to overcome. They’ll need to act like women, not girls, and hope that some day the world will rely on grown men interacting with grown women, completing grownup work.

By David Trinko

The Lima News

David Trinko is managing editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.

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