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If you’ve looked at the news at all in the last month, you’ve seen an avalanche of sexual harassment allegations. Maybe you’re shocked. Maybe, like many of us, you are not.

Sad, yes. Shocked, no.

Some have called this a sea change in the way America views sexual harassment. No longer will it be casually dismissed as it has been in the past. I want to believe that. Not everyone, however, sees this change – if it is happening – as a good thing. I had a conversation with a woman the other day while waiting for the mechanic to finish up with my car. She was 80, lively, witty, and I felt blessed to have such a companion to pass the interval until she asked, “What do you think about all these women coming out with allegations of harassment?”

Somehow, I sensed this topic marked an end to our pleasant exchange.

I told her we all knew this stuff happened, and that many women had gotten tired of it and decided they wouldn’t take it anymore. She more or less agreed, but thought they should all handle these things privately. I told her it had happened to me. A boss everyone liked decided it was perfectly okay to grab my butt while I stood at the copy machine, and had to be told that such behavior was not okay. “But see, you told him and he stopped,” she insisted. It didn’t seem to cross her mind that this was a grown-up who had received all the same lectures as the rest of us about boundaries and professionalism and that I shouldn’t have HAD to tell him.

Seeing all of this in the news upsets some people, and I get that. We don’t want to think about it. I didn’t report it when it happened to me, either. He stopped bothering me and I just wanted to forget it. (Of course, I didn’t, so it wasn’t much of a strategy.)

Maybe we truly are witnessing a shift in perception. In recent weeks, many famous and powerful people have experienced real consequences because of these allegations. It scares some of us that people believe these allegations, before any results are revealed from investigations or trials. I get that, too. The perception continues that false accusations are regularly made. I heard somewhere that the average person believe one out of two claims of harassment are made up. That’s not true, and I will continue to shout this as long and loud as I can. Studies done in both the U.S. and Europe turn up a rate of false accusations of between 2% and 6%. That’s pretty low, and incidentally, about the same as false accusations of other crimes. When people say they’ve been robbed, we don’t automatically assume they’re making it up.

But all the same, I get that this is difficult for men. If someone has the potential to ruin your life when you haven’t done anything to deserve that and all you can do to prevent this is to try to limit your association to the people who are too good to use that power, that is scary. Please understand, however, that that is the situation that every woman you’ve ever known has lived with for her entire life. We keep it in the back of our minds because if we thought about it every minute, we’d never leave the house. Please sit with that knowledge for a few minutes. You’re right. It’s terrifying.

This is the only world we have, and somehow, we all have to live in it together. How can we do that without someone always feeling threatened? I don’t know, but I know that ignoring the violations that go on every day isn’t it. Believing that all our fellow human beings are lying won’t help. We need to start treating each other with dignity and respect. To realize that “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” doesn’t mean “Grab someone else’s ass if I’d like them to grab mine.” Discovering when someone is attracted to you and when you might bring them pleasure by touching them is a subtle art, I grant you. But I think we can set a major milestone by realizing that the answer is never “At my place of employment.” For the love of God, if you don’t know me well enough to arrange a meeting somewhere outside of work, you don’t me well enough to grab me in private places.

That seems like a pretty fair place to start.

Kimberly really wants to see change.

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