Times are changing — for the better

Published 7:34 pm Saturday, December 2, 2017

Last week, the Girl Scouts issued a news release reminding parents their daughters don’t owe anyone a hug — not even at the holidays.

Forcing them to hug Uncle Johnny or Aunt Jan could give them the wrong idea about consent and physical affection, according to the release.

That made me sad, not because it’s bad advice. It’s not. It made me sad because this is what we have become: Distrustful of everyone’s motives and intentions — even Uncle Johnny’s and Aunt Jan’s. Maybe we should have been all along, but it’s sad nonetheless.

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If hugging is bad — and that seems to be the message we’re sending — then what becomes of affection or human touch?

I would hate for little Suzy to think hugging is wrong, that being affectionate toward someone she loves and feels like hugging is a bad thing.

Rather, I wish we would teach her to recognize when a hug is more than a hug and to knock the crap out of anyone who crosses that line.

We should teach our sons and daughters when they feel uncomfortable for any reason to yell and scream and tell someone immediately, to make a ruckus of monumental proportions until they get someone’s attention.

The only constant in life is change, and we keep evolving as humans for the better, I hope. What was once acceptable behavior isn’t any longer.

The news about Matt Lauer’s admitted sexual misconduct at work hit me hard this week. Honestly, I’ve dismissed a lot of the accusations that have come out, thinking what happened 20 or 30 years ago during a time when culture and society were different probably shouldn’t be judged according to today’s societal standards. I’m not talking about Roy Moore dating of teenage girls when he was in his 30s or Lauer’s forcing a sex act on a woman against her will. Those things are crimes — then and now.

What was once acceptable or even expected behavior — being hit on every now and then in the workplace — isn’t any longer, and never should have been.

As long as men and women work together, sex is going to be a part of things. That’s biology. Still, when an advance by a man or woman in a position of power is unwanted, imagine the consequences of thwarting that advance? Ask the many women who remained silent or who had to give in to those advances because they needed their jobs.

Times change, as well they should. Maybe we’re coming to a place where women and men who face unwanted sexual advances no longer have to fear their jobs or continued harassment. That would be a change for the better.

Jan Griffey is general manager of The Vicksburg Post. You may reach her at jan.griffey@vicksburgpost.com.