Beware: sensitive subject.
But also very ordinary and vulgar.
Not long ago, I got contacted by a man whom one can consider a public figure, and who therefore has a certain degree of power and influence.
As I had just posted another article about homeless people I was quite happy with the unexpected attention. This man just had to be a good person! However, I quickly noticed he barely knew about my projects. But he insisted: “I would really like to meet you.” When I asked him for the reason why, I never got a clear answer – just vague declarations about my commitment and my pretty profile pic.
Nevertheless, my curiosity had been piqued. There had to be a reason, so I agreed to go for coffee. It was pleasant, but there was always this little voice mumbling something about hidden agendas. And did he have one! Married, of course. And very reckless: soon my inbox would be full of messages, even though I had told him in an early stage that I had no interest in being a ‘piece on the side’.
And yet, things did go out of hand, and the lack of respect became obvious. Messages became pushier, and focussed on the presumed contents of his pants. I cut off all contacts. There is something tragical about middle aged men who blindly hunt after women; it’s like the announcement of a life long failure. Despite the apparent signs of worldly success, their acts show a total lack of depth or even sense.
So yes, he was looking for an accomplice, he said. A nice way of saying ‘an extra-marital relationship and dumpster for all your domestically forbidden fantasies’. Be careful with people who look for accomplices, as they can do you harm, especially when they have power and plan on using it. They know that women still have a socially weaker position, and that single moms struggle to make ends meet. They also know that we too would love some recognition for our talents. But what we want most is to be loved and respected, and this is the least of their worries. In fact, they do not even try to get to know us a bit. In any case, their power, or so they think, make them irrisistible in our Bambi eyes.
Do we keep being fooled? Us, women who strive to exist and be respected above and despite the guy’s politically correct feminist babble that barely hides a deeply rooted machismo? Do we chose not to see that all they want is to bring us down, on the floor, us independent, complex, spiritual, intelligent and therefore beautiful women? Face it: all they keep seeing is a nice piece of meat.
Come on! I have been there, a long time ago, while in a weak position as I was asking for help. I have been through real abuse in the framework of religion (“You are my little secret. And if you don’t agree, I will excommunicate you!”). It still makes me sick to think of it, years after the facts. And yet, I thought that one day I’d laugh about it. The truth is that even if the woman in a vulnerable position may seem to agree on being abused, it remains abuse. Ask her if she would have done it had he not been her boss (or any other man who might have an influence on her destiny), and she will say “No!”. In a relationship with power, there is no ‘free consent’. Instead, what we have here is an insidious form of rape, as it touches her in the heart of what makes her vulnerable: professional or other precarity, spiritual quest, health problems…
Today I am fine, well armed and surrounded, and what I would like here is to warn those women who do not immediately detect the machinery of the hunter-abuser, the man who will not hesitate to use his power and pretty words to turn her into a wanking tool, a good lay in between two meetings. Face it: this predator does not have an ounce of respect for the woman she really is.
Recently, the media lifted the taboo on street harassment in Brussels and we have read the shared stories on Hollaback! Brussels. Great work. Now let’s talk about the white-collar harrasser, the man with the nice office and the good manners. He is harder to recognize, but it is all the more necessary to learn to do so – in an early stage.
For you, women who have been abused by your shrink, doctor, professor, guru, politician, rabbi, employer, landlord, imam or husband: get out of there. Love yourself above all. Let them wander without you. Even if in a weak moment you may hesitate, do realize there is nothing to win. They are the ones who are lost, and all they want to do is suck you up in their confusion, because it is with your energy that they feed themselves. It is not love, it is an addiction. They want to be drugged out by the adrenaline of chasing women, running from the emptiness inside. Until there is not much left of your beautiful energy.
If you are a victim of abuse: speak to a trustworthy person or your doctor. Do not stay alone. You are not the one who should be ashamed.