Taylor Swift recently graced Denver with her presence, though for an unfortunate reason: A local DJ got handsy, going by the assumption that women are property that can be groped, and Swift was in town for the trial that followed. A jury found David Mueller guilty.
We figured now was a good time to give a lesson in consent, as too many of us were raised without some basic knowledge of common decency and how not to be a creep. Here is a refresher course in how to avoid violating boundaries.
Plain and simple: Catcalling is sexual harassment, and if you’re the lame-o out there rolling your eyes at that, imagine if someone yelled “I bet you taste soooooo sweet” to your sister, brother, mom, or nana. Think you’d be able to just laugh it off? Verbal assaults make everyone feel uncomfortable, less than human, and often frightened. Contrary to popular belief, people offended after someone yells an invasive comment aren't weak or overly sensitive; they’re human beings who don't want to be treated like objects. And, no, catcalling can't be trumped up to "locker-room talk." If you think someone looks attractive, approach them directly and with respect. That means not yelling something from a passing car like a gutless pinhead. This goes double for harassing co-workers; they’re not there to listen to your “sweet talk," they’re there for the paycheck. So let's be clear: If people are working, they are off limits until and unless they tell you otherwise.
“Light” or “Casual” Touching
One would think this rule is pretty self-explanatory, but somewhere along the way, some individuals have gotten the idea that physical touching is a gray area. So let’s bring it back into black and white: Unless people give you explicit consent, you may not touch them. Sure, you can extend a hand to shake, or even open up your arms for a hug, but realize that those gestures are invitations — and nobody has to reciprocate. You don’t grab people. You don’t lightly stroke their backs, gently rub their legs or nuzzle into that friendly hug. Everyone has varying comfort levels when it comes to physical contact, and it’s your job to respect those boundaries. Ask first, touch later. Everyone, including Taylor Swift, will thank you.
Using Sex As Leverage
If people rely on you for a paycheck, emotional support, or if you’re in a position of authority and you demand a physical favor, you are breaking the law, and not just in the legal sense. You’re breaking a law of basic human decency. You will be the skeevy subject of stories that will be told, followed by a well-deserved disgusted round of “Eeeeeew” and a wicked lawsuit.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
With our reliance on and addiction to social media and texting, it’s easier than ever to snap a naughty pic or send a sexually motivated GIF; those who date online joke about the random, unsolicited dick pics we’re sent. But honestly, if the person you’re hitting up at 2 a.m. didn’t request to see your body parts, don't send a picture of them. Not to mention, you have zero idea what that person is going to do with that content, so you shouldn’t send those images unless you don’t mind everyone in the universe seeing your lovely lady lumps or your package. Mr. Weiner, we’re looking at you. (By that, we mean Anthony, but it works on several levels.) By sending such a photo, you even run the risk of being charged with a sex crime, which could require that you register as a sex offender if you're found guilty. So the next time you get a little tipsy and want to send an ex a pic of your bod, rethink it. It’s not worth the potential legal ramifications.
If people have been stuck on I-25 during rush hour, it’s almost certain they have experienced a lewd gesture, and not because they cut someone off. Pushing your tongue through your fingers is sexual harassment — even if you're protected by the anonymity of your car. There’s no way out for your victims; they have to just sit there and pretend they don’t see your vile gestures. Just don't do it.
In this current political climate, people are being pushed to the edge of their limits by inappropriate behavior modeled by the leader of this land. Enough is enough. Don’t just sit there and say nothing. Find your voice. Stand up. Speak out.