Home » Uncategorized » On Self-Control and Personal Responsibility

On Self-Control and Personal Responsibility

So, apparently, if you’re a female, you can be fired if your male boss is sexually harassing you. (At least, I’ve heard of no cases where the genders have been switched. However, I will have you note that I did not tag this post with “Women” or any variant because this is issue is so much bigger than gender.)

The recent case in Iowa has my gut in knots. According to one article, “Knight feared he would attempt an affair if Nelson stayed around.”

That is complete and utter freakin’ bull. I don’t care what the genders are of the people involved; it is everyone’s own responsibility to keep it in their pants. I don’t care what your excuse is—to say that someone is just too irresistible is absolutely despicable, and is a complete and utter cop-out. If this woman was so attractive, how could other men keep calm around her? If she was dressing so provocatively, why didn’t the dentist just tell her to cover up because it was inappropriate instead of (and by the dentist’s own admission!) saying that “if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing”? Oh, and by the way, that last bit is sexual harassment, and don’t you dare tell me otherwise.

So far, no hard evidence has surfaced that the woman who was fired was making inappropriate advances towards the dentist. There are allegations, and certainly, we might not be hearing the whole story just yet, but even so, if someone makes unwanted emotional advances, it’s in the other person’s court whether or not they reciprocate. (Now, if the person makes unwanted physical advances, that is a completely different matter and something that the person being advanced on is in no way responsible for.) In other words, it takes two to tango, and this man definitely would have been guilty of having made a choice in pursuing an affair, no matter the woman’s feelings. Again, I’d be saying the same exact thing if a woman had fired a man for this reason.

Growing up, I was told that we are responsible for our own emotions, and, by extension, our own actions. Sure, there can be dire consequences if we don’t follow orders from those in supervising positions, but nobody can crawl inside your mind and say, “Well, actually, you’re going to do this even though you REALLY don’t want to.”

The truth of the matter is, humans have sexual desires, and, a lot of the time, we’re made to feel like we’re no better than dirt for it. But, when you think about it, that’s how the human race survives. It’s something that we’re programmed to do. That does NOT make dishonoring a commitment you have made at all an okay thing to do. We have the drive to reproduce (and to experience pleasure in general), but if we truly are capable of “higher thought”, we are definitely capable of holding ourselves back. Again, we cannot blame other people for our desire for them, especially when they do not reciprocate.

Now, if it turns out that the woman was pursuing the dentist, that makes her firing a little easier to bear. She, too, has had the choice of whether or not to engage in inappropriate conduct, but even so, that still by no means excuses the dentist’s behavior. Personal responsibility is not encouraged enough, and while there are obvious reasons why this is the case, it’s sad that the integrity of many is so often eroded by the mistakes (or even the deliberately wrong actions) of a few, especially as it pertains to sexuality. Having the capability to do something does not mean you have the responsibility to do it, especially when it interferes with another’s livelihood.

I’m not perfect. I will openly admit I’m pretty good at making mistakes. But I do take responsibility for them, and I try to do better. And when I do better, I feel better. Maybe I don’t feel great until then, but I’d say that learning and growing leads to far better experiences than shirking and blaming.

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