Words really do matter

Dear President Trump,

Yesterday we drove from Santa Barbara to Sacramento and stayed at a friend’s house and then set out for home early this morning. I’m pretty much toast from saying goodbye to our daughter and the 18+ hours of driving in two days, so this may be short. There are two things, though, that I chewed on during the drive that I want to tell you about.

First, one of the things Laura told me on the drive today is that a friend shared with her recently that she’d been out in a novel situation and had a lot of men hit on her. I don’t know whether she was pleased or uncomfortable or both, but it occurs to me that it’s pretty crappy that we frequently use a phrase that basically connotes violence when we talk about people flirting or expressing interest in one another. I know there are lots of aggressive ways to talk about sex and the pursuit of sex, but I’d never given it all that much thought because, sadly, it’s pretty much the air we all breathe. I realize it would take some major adjustments to the collective psyche to cull the violent conquest language from flirting, dating, and sex, but I think doing so would help curb our horrid rape culture.

Second, at dinner last night it was date-night at the pretty fancy restaurant we went to and there was one couple that was behaving almost as though they thought they were invisible. I think they were both drunk and they were in each others’ faces kissing, a lot. He also repeatedly grabbed the front of her tank top and yanked it down. Every time she snatched his hand away and yelled at him to stop, and then immediately kissed him or took another picture of the two of them. I could make up all sorts of explanations for their dynamics but it would be a waste of time, really, since I obviously don’t know their relationship. I just know I felt grimy being in proximity to them, as though I was a party to it in not telling him to stop disrespecting her and in not telling her to set decent boundaries. But as we all know, one doesn’t say such things to strangers. However, one can say such things to people one knows, and hopefully someone who knows one or both of them will give them solid, honest feedback about their behavior and how disturbing it is.

May we all be safe to keep our shirts on when we want them on.
May we all be willing to respect one another’s and our own boundaries.
May we use healthier ways of talking about flirting and sex.
May we all understand that mutual respect is foundational to peace.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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