Letter to dvm360: Societys regression is to blame for culture of sexual harassment

March 26, 2018
Ronald L. Lott, DVM

When left untrained, people revert to instinctual behavior just like dogs, reader maintains.

I recently read the articles by Portia Stewart and Dr. Robin Downing concerning the #metoo movement and sexual harassment and assault in veterinary medicine. I would like to offer few comments concerning questions that are raised directly or indirectly by these articles.

First, let me say that as a man, I am truly sorrowful for what they have suffered at the hands of a coward with a Y-chromosome. I refrain from using the word “man” because, by my definition, the perpetrators of the offenses against them and other women are not really men.

In response to Dr. Downing's question of why this is still happening in 2018, I believe the answer is relatively simple. When left untrained, we, like the canines we treat daily, will revert to instinctual behavior. Whether male or female, if a person is not trained from an early age to respect others, put someone else's needs ahead of their own and resist temptation for immediate gratification by doing what is right and appropriate, then that person will revert to more instinctual behavior.

For those who deny this line of thinking, I encourage you to observe young kids at school or on a playground. I have seen the dominant personality in a class fight his or her way to the front of the line even though they were told to take another position in that line. Without intervention by the teacher, that child will do whatever is necessary to get their way and exert dominance. Watch two young boys who both want to play with a toy at the same time. They will begin to posture and challenge one another until the someone “gives up,” or else a physical altercation will ensue. This is no different than two dogs that want the same treat and neither wants to concede. A fight is about to happen, as we have all seen far too many times. I argue that people are really no different.

My concern is that as we move forward as a society, we are regressing in many ways and we are blurring the lines. College students working at my practice tell me that the “hookup” culture and hypersexuality of young adults today is rampant. A huge majority of marketing today involves sex as the selling point. “Sexy” poses for selfies and pictures on social media are pervasive in today's culture.

With all this focus on sex and sexuality, I cannot see any improvement in sexual harassment in the horizon. I believe that until we are serious about absolute truth, concern for others, respect for others, established boundaries, etc., we will continue to see sexual harassment in the workplace, at schools and throughout society. Unfortunately, the social trends appear to be moving toward fewer boundaries, no absolute truths, disrespect for others, disregard for others, disdain for authority and obliteration of sexual boundaries. This is antithetical to what which would lead to more respect for others' sexuality.

I do not think any woman or man should be sexually harassed. I'm just not sure talking about it without addressing some core issues is going to lead to permanent change.

-Ronald L. Lott, DVM

Nacogdoches, Texas