At the risk of sounding like I'm a character in an animated movie, people are very complex, they have many layers. In the couples counseling my wife and I went through a few months back we were taught to express what we were feeling a little differently. I've already forgotten the examples but I have the idea. A few days ago I told my wife I was feeling shut out of many things in our lives lately. She said I wasn't being shut out and needed to find the more primary emotions so we could deal with what was causing them. I think respect is one of those primary interactions, I don't feel respect so much as an emotion but more as a way of thinking and doing things.
At times some people, my wife included, have told me they feel I'm using them for my own means. I do borrow others' ideas but in my heart I've always realized they weren't my own ideas but didn't explicitly give credit. I wasn't so much using them as not showing respect by giving credit. It was an easy thing to learn to do correctly as I've always tried to be respectful.
Definitions of respect have some nuances to them. The main way I'm meaning it here is: the process of honoring someone by exhibiting care, concern, or consideration for their needs or feelings. Another part of respect is an admiration of their good and positive qualities. If I exhibit consideration for their needs until I know them well enough to see their good and positive qualities, I can develop respect in a number or layers.
I have been reading books on some of the founding fathers. The book on George Washington dealt mainly with him being a warrior, but there was mention of his love letters to a married woman on a nearby plantation. The book about Thomas Jefferson deals with the women in his life and his relationship with them. Their attitudes were based in centuries, if not more time, of patriarchal thinking. I have found it interesting that Abigail Adams earned enough respect from Jefferson for him to at least modify his language a bit in a letter to her to show he was listening and he was trying to exhibit care for her feelings on certain issues. Hopefully today any person would have the respect for others to be concerned with their feelings.
Recent political events show there are many very vocal people who do not respect others. I wish I could say it was just one party, or one side of the debate, but it is both sides. This isn't as new as some people claim as there was a lack of political respect that created a wall between Jefferson and John and Abigail Adams. A few years ago I read about fist fights starting in the streets on election day or during campaign activities. I really wondered how that could be, especially in Utah where the parties at the turn of the twentieth century were false divisions anyway. Why were they fighting with fists instead of words, and respectful words at that. During the last decades of the twentieth century and these first two of the twenty-first, I have watched it deteriorate from the hope the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act to the name calling, out right lies, and inability to get at the facts we face today. If people would show some political respect things could be worked out.
As I try to be sex positive I'm running into people that refuse to be respectful of other peoples' choices of partners and activities. Not just from the majority, but some of those living alternate lifestyles are disrespectful of the majority or other alternatives. I have been having trouble with people concentrating on labels lately. While writing this post I've realized it is because so many are using labels as a tool to be disrespectful. They are used to show extremist views when they were created to bring those of similar thoughts together.
It seems we need to just be extra respectful people for a while. With respect we can open communication. With communication can come understanding. With understanding can come consent when needed, or denial of consent based on facts rather than labels and prejudices.
I remember my son telling me of a gay co-worker he had who posted on a bulletin board at the university they were at. Someone had posted an announcement of a meeting that would involve gay people. Someone else had post a very disrespectful comment. His co-worker posted, "just because I'm gay, doesn't mean you're cute." I wish I could remember the disrespectful comment but it seemed telling the person they wouldn't necessarily being getting hit on was an appropriate answer. I thought it brought out the point that we are all people, but we don't all behave the same.
Some of us males that aren't committing sexual assault or sexual harassment have felt lumped in with those that don't understand what the victims face. I've seen an extreme version of kicking guys in the nuts as about as close as they could come to sexual assault and mentioning some of the feelings that being kicked would bring about if dealt with in the same way as sexual assault is dealt with today. I thought that was good for some to see, but was out at the extreme trauma. There are some more subtle traumas being experienced every day. This morning I saw one that brought me understanding of how to show the feelings of sexual harassment to some of these insensitive disrespectful people. I have shared the original on my Facebook page that is linked at the bottom of each page on this site. I also tweeted an image of it on my Twitter account. Take a look at it to see a way to help understand how these seemingly insignificant comments can bring out some strong feelings.
Let's be respectful of others, no matter what lifestyle they choose. Let's work to keep ourselves free to choose our lifestyles. Let's use that freedom and respect to communicate with each other to increase understanding. Let's get to know others so we can gain some of the second layer of respect I spoke of near the beginning of this post.