In an open letter to Alaskans on the Choose Respect site (www.chooserespect.alaska.gov) Gov. Sean Parnell wrote, "In December of 2009, I pledged that Alaska would take every step necessary to stop the epidemic of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse in Alaska. Since then, we have witnessed more and more Alaskans finding the courage to speak, and the strength to act."
But respect is more than not hitting or raping a woman.
I've recently heard some complaints from friends that made me realize we need to talk about what respect is and how you show it.
Respect is accepting a woman's autonomy, in general as well as when it comes to sex, sexuality and her body. It is accepting that a woman doesn't have to be flattered when you comment on her appearance or express sexual attraction.
Respect is accepting a woman's word or body language or subtle hints as rock solid. If she says she's not interested, pulls away or doesn't enthusiastically engage, back off.
Respect is accepting that a woman is capable. A woman can open doors, pull out chairs and carry heavy things. A woman can be a leader and can climb a mountain and can be the breadwinner in a family. If you like opening doors for people, it's cool, but don't expect a curtsy.
Respect is expecting equal treatment of women. A woman doing the same job as a man deserves the same pay as a man. A woman should have the same access to opportunities as men and not be denied access because of a potential 9-month absence.
Respect is taking note of a woman's achievements, not her appearance. Maybe she does look nice today, but have you ever commented on how she made a thoughtful comment in a meeting? How she really showed initiative on a project? Or how she totally deserved that promotion she got for all her hard work?
Respect is not asking a woman when she is getting married or having children. Those are her choices and her business.
Respect is not expecting a woman to dress or act or react in a certain way.
And yes, respect is not laying a finger on a woman without her consent, but it is so much more and it is important that we not forget that.
How do you like to be respected?