We’ve all experienced it. Women have experienced it moreso. Casual, lewd comments from the store clerk. The teacher who looks down students’ shirts. The cliche construction worker cat-call. Assholes on the street who tell us to smile, and harass us when we don’t play along. The creepy old man who demands hugs from young girls. The sweeping, misogynistic comments from some dick uncle who was “just kidding.” These are everyday perverts.
We all know them. They are the kind of men who are generally considered to be “good” people, even though their sexist behavior is far from it. They have been allowed to get away with it all their lives because the people around them are so conditioned to think that their bad behavior is normal. It gets dismissed. That’s just who they are. They don’t mean anything by it. It’s not like they are deranged or anything. They’re just… quirky.
Fuck. That. It’s sexist as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.
I see everyday perverts as a far greater threat to humankind than registered sex offenders. Only a tiny percentage of sex offenders actually make it on the list, but I’m pretty sure they all started out as an everyday pervert. If there could be an everyday pervert list, I would be the first in line to help microchip them and log them into a database. They are serial abusers, and they are allowed to do it right out in the open under the guise of “it’s not that bad.” Because it is allowed, or even expected, there is a whole culture of entitlement surrounding these guys. Sure, they’ve probably had to watch a video at work about it, but they don’t see their behavior as sexual harassment. Or maybe they get a pass because they come from an older generation where it was even more socially acceptable to demean and harass women. If you tell them to stop, they will continue to do it. And they don’t feel one shred of guilt over upsetting anyone who calls them out because they know they don’t really need to change. They. Get. Away. With. It.
When it comes down to the impact of abuse over time, it’s quite possible that everyday perverts have done far more harm in this world than serial rapists. How many moments of dignity and self worth have they stolen from others? Let’s say there are a million everyday perverts for every one serial rapist. Let’s say a million everyday perverts steal dignity from others approximately five minutes a day. Between them, that makes 1,825,000,000 stolen moments of dignity per year. By sheer volume, their behavior creates a Grand Canyon size void, which in turn shapes us all.
We are one seriously messed up culture when it comes to our double standards surrounding sexual abuse. Porn is normalized. Young men are confused about what constitutes as consent. As a mom of girls, I am understandably concerned. Rape is horrific and does irreparable, lifelong harm. Ask me how I know. But if we are going to tackle the bigger problems of rape and sexual assault, we need to start with the dick uncle, and the creepy old man, and the asshole on the street. As long as we allow everyday perverts to go unchecked, we are actively enabling rape culture.