By Matt Meyle – The Collegiate Staff
The American Dream was defined as, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement,” in 1931 by historian James Truslow Adams. In 2017, it seems as if trying to get someone to have sex with you is the new American Dream.
Sexual harassment has been one of the most consistently reported topics on all platforms in today’s media. It seems like every day, someone else in the national spotlight is being accused of sexual harassment of some degree. Some cases are more severe than others, but the disturbing truth to all these events is the fact that so many Americans are encroaching on the rights of others.
Whatever happened to respect, boundaries, and personal space? Whatever happened to the original American dream of providing a “better and richer and fuller” life for everyone?
Have Americans lost sight of the original American dream, or has the journey to achieve the American dream helped skew the minds of so many successful people?
America is often labeled by other successful nations as headstrong. It is driven into the psyche of the American child that they must be the best at something, and if not, they are a failure. Parents constantly put their children on a pedestal and talk them up. The American lifestyle and economy are “dog eat dog.” Either you take advantage of a situation, not caring about the well-being of others, or someone else will. Perhaps leaving you in turmoil, because the other person disregarded your well being, while only thinking of how things will benefit them. Corporations create monopolies within an industry, eliminating all competition, including all the local businesses they may destroy. It is drilled into the minds of the youth to only think about themselves, disregard the comfort of others, and do what is best for you.
The first major accusation came against Harvey Weinstein back on Oct. 5. His accusations opened up the door for countless other women, and some men, to step forward and share their stories of being harassed or even assaulted by 38 (and counting) different, high-profile men in the media, the entertainment industry, and politics. It started with actors and people associated with Hollywood, Ben Affleck, Kevin Spacey, Andy Dick and Louis C.K., to name just a few. Then media celebrities started to fall. Bill O’Reilly of Fox News was let go after allegations began to surface with his name attached. Then Mike Oreskes was accused of harassment that occurred during his time with NPR and the New York Times, as well as Mark Halperin former ABC News political director. Following these reports, the most shocking mane surfaced on Nov. 29, NBC “Today” show host Matt Lauer was accused of sexual harassment during his time with NBC.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t stopped there, as politicians are starting to be named as aggressors. On Dec. 1, both a Republican and Democrat in the House of Representatives have been accused of sexual harassment, Blake Farenthold (Texas) and Ruben Kihuen (Nevada) respectively. Nothing has come of these accusations, but perhaps that is a testament to the power these men have.
The race for the Senate in Alabama has recently escalated to a monumental vote that could truly voice the opinion of sexual misconduct in America. Candidate, Judge Roy Moore, has been accused by several different women who have alleged they had not only uncomfortable experiences with Moore but also in some cases, have reported the physical assault. In November, only about a month away from the upcoming election, news surfaced of Moore’s sexual misconduct, four women accused Moore of unwanted sexual contact during the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s, while Moore was an assistant district attorney.
One of the cases, told by Leigh Corfman was quite alarming. She shared a dark memory of Moore bringing her home while she was only 14-years-old. According to Fox News, Moore approached her in a courtroom in 1979, and being an adult male in his 30’s, was able to convince the young girl to come home with him. Once he had her alone, he proceeded to remove her shirt and pants, and touched her inappropriately, while forcing the young girl’s hands to touch him over his underwear.
The vast majority of Americans would probably be locked away in a state penitentiary to serve a potential life sentence for inappropriate sexual contact with a minor. However, that American dream of being able to touch anyone you’d like, at any given time, seems to be a universal goal amongst some men in power. And as the victims’ stories roll out, it appears that many of these men were getting away with shameful behavior. Moore has repeatedly denied the sexual assault allegations and so far, it’s working. None other than, the commander-in-chief, President Donald J. Trump (owner of his own sexual harassment allegations), Mr. “Grab-them-by-the-p****” himself, has backed Judge Moore as the potential Senator of Alabama.
Instead of condemning Moore for his allegations and accused past behavior, Trump tweeted about how bad of a Senator, Democratic candidate Doug Jones would be, stating that, “Jones would be a disaster.”
Trump is the king of labeling things as fake news and has chosen to believe the words of a man with more than five alleged victims. Have these men of power turned a blind eye, or are they avoiding the subject altogether, hoping to leave their own name out of the conversation?
So have American men decided that part of the American dream should be to possess the ability to sleep with whoever they desire?
What is causing all the lack of self-control? Is it the inability to possess self-control, or has the success of the American lifestyle caused these men to lose sight of respect and boundaries?
Every American has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, so how have these men forgotten that each person has as much right to exist and to pursue their dreams as everyone else?
Has the modern age of the Internet, television, and entertainment in general caused people to change their thinking? America is the land of the free after all. It is home to pornography, strip clubs, and scantily dressed people. America accounts for nearly 25 percent of all porn viewers on the Internet. The country has been over-stimulated and overwhelmingly sexualized.
Almost everywhere people look, they could find something provocative, whether it be in an ad, a T.V. show, video game, news report, concert or just the way someone dresses in public. Sex is constantly being forced into people’s daily lives and apparently, there are people that can’t handle that. The normalcy of sexual images and behavior in American culture is causing this culture crisis. As if men didn’t think about sex enough, now they have to weed through a society where it is all they see.
The first step in fixing a problem is to identify the problem, to begin with. America is no longer sitting in silence about these issues. The voice of the people is finally being heard and potential offenders are cowering in fear. Rather than trying to figure out what sexual harassment is and what is not, perhaps the focus should turn away from “teaching an old dog new tricks” and focus more on teaching the next generation how to properly behave.
Schools already incorporate programs to teach children to stay away from drugs. They teach semester-long classes about health and sexual education. They hold assemblies with hosts from magazine companies or fruit salesmen. The purpose of these assemblies is to promote the capitalist lifestyle to the children. They are taught if they sell enough of whatever product the assembly was talking about, they can receive awesome prizes and feel good about being the top salesmen. If schools can set aside time for this, there is no doubt that there is time in the schedule to fit in a class that teaches people boundaries, respect, and appropriate social behavior.
It’s not like you have to sit the children down and tell them not to sexual assault or harass each other, but rather teach them how to properly behave as a functioning member of society. Emphasize ownership and property, there are things that are not yours and you should leave them alone. This is true with people as well. If a person is not allowed to just walk into someone else’s house and start making dinner, why should they have any thought that makes them think they can walk up to someone else and make that person have sex with them? It is an irrational way of thinking and the only way to change that is to hammer the respect of other’s thoughts, feelings, and personal space into the minds of the youth.
People must learn that there are more perspectives on life than just their own. Just because something feels good or makes you happy does not make that thing appropriate or legal. It is funny to see someone gets pushed into a pool in their clothes, but they risk breaking their phone, ruining their clothes and appearance, as well as just being soaked in wet clothes until they dry. There are people who actually exist like this in everyday life. They have no respect for others and do not care about the effects of their actions, as long as it doesn’t affect them.
If we are able to instill in the mind’s of the youth and teach the behavior of respecting others possessions, property, and personal space, then maybe we will start to see a culture shift. One of community and togetherness, the willingness to help out others, not because it benefits you, but because someone needs something and you can help. We must break away from individualism, and the ideology and thought process of “what’s in this for me?” We need to shift toward, “how can this benefit us?”
In a world with no limitations on what you can see and when you can see it, it is to the benefit of our entire society that we teach children the proper way to operate in life. After all, isn’t most of life communicating with others, building relationships and families, and enjoying our free time, doing things we love? A school needs to take away the stress of focusing so hard on academics and creating the next generation of workers and innovators and actually teach the children how to be human. Teach them that it is okay to feel emotions and how to control them, teach them proper social cues, manners, etiquette. Quit hammering topics the students have learned in previous classes, instead provide time to give the children life skills that will make them better-rounded individuals and better fit members of society.