Trimble: Say no to grope

By Leah Trimble

Take yourself back to two Sunday afternoons ago, when Ke$ha belted out some fans’ favorite… Take yourself back to two Sunday afternoons ago, when Ke$ha belted out some fans’ favorite catchy tunes. Halfway through, her dancers put on dinosaur heads and played with walkers as they all sang “D-I-N-O-S-A-U-R, you are a dinosaur / O-L-D-M-A-N, you’re just an old man / Hitting on me, what? / You need a CAT scan.” As incredibly horrible as those lyrics are, as if a seventh-grader wrote them, I couldn’t help but think about them later on and how true they actually are.

As young women, my friends and I have spent years dealing with older men talking loudly about our looks as we walk by — and, on occasion, grabbing our behinds. I was fortunate enough not to deal with this as much before I came to Pitt, coming from a town with a population of three people.

The urban setting is exponentially worse. Bus and cab drivers saying nonchalant but obvious remarks while driving, construction workers everywhere cat-calling every decent woman that walks past their work site. As if it weren’t already inappropriate, some of these women aren’t girls, but teenagers young enough to be their daughters or even granddaughters.

From what I hear, it only gets worse when you start going to bars. My roommate doesn’t come home without having been aggressively approached by at least one man in his 40s or 50s while out. If this is your experience, don’t you think it’s time to find a new place to drink at — such as a bar where you can have chats with other men and women your age?

Middle-aged men making comments is one thing — in my mind, a 10-year age difference between consenting adults is an OK gap. For example, it’s OK with me if a 25-year-old person dates someone who’s 35. You can even stretch this a tad further as you get older.

It’s the people over 50 that worry me. Why are you even attracted to teenagers and early 20-something women? There’s no denying beauty, but — in my opinion — for someone to actually be sexually attracted to someone this young is deplorable and sickening.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment can include “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.”

A 2006 study from the American Association of University Women showed that 62 percent of college women and  report having been sexually harassed at their universities.

Harassment in a college setting often stems from alcohol, too much persistence and  immaturity, but it is still a serious matter. And in many cases, the kind of intergenerational ogling that permeates campuses turns into harassment, and it cannot be tolerated.

By now, you should know what belongs under the “right” and “wrong” categories. This is the age in which people are at the turning point between being children and having children. Some have already made that step. Would you want that to happen to your kid? If you can’t picture it, how about imagining older men ogling your sister or mother when she was that age. Gross, huh?

In 2008 alone, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received almost 14,000 charges of sexual harassment. Around 16 percent of the alleged victims were men, which proves that this can happen to either gender, though not as often. The terrible thing is, these statistics aren’t even very accurate, because most people don’t report their experiences — especially men.

Now, I know that people are just joking, sometimes. My friends have driven by while I was walking a couple times and whistled at me to be funny. The point is — with rape and sexual abuse still affecting our communities — we should not become adults who think hitting on teenagers and young people is OK.

We should make an effort to promote respect and restraint when it’s appropriate. And — as we get older, graduate and maybe have families of our own — we should know the difference between a joke and a serious problem and should not be afraid to act accordingly.

I’m not trying to be a lecturer to you, my wonderful peers. But although I talk about the good side of sex most of the time, it’s equally important to keep in mind what happens on the other end of the spectrum.

Let’s keep our groping and cat-calling in the bedroom and off the streets, shall we?

Write to Leah at [email protected] If you have become a victim of sexual harassment or believe someone has, call Pitt police at 412-624-2121, and contact Pitt’s Counseling Center at 412-648-7930.

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