Let me tell you a story. Many years ago, when I was still a girl in high school, I was sexually harassed. This is not a new story, since many of us are. While I was never raped, I was certainly encouraged strongly by budding hardcore salesmen. Usually, I was able to adeptly sidestep (or acquiesce) as I saw fit. I never felt cheapened by any encounter until one day. Ironically, it was to a young man with whom I had never even romantically considered.
One day, a boy at school, as a joke, I suppose, gave me a condom. I was quite embarrassed by this, so I immediately hid it in my purse, as there was no discrete place to dispose of it. Later, at lunch, I was socializing with some of my male classmates, when one of them decided to grab my purse and go through it. This was a game that they often played, and mostly, it went without consequence, until this day. Of course, they found the condom, and the teasing was swift and merciless. That, though, was not what effected me. No, the blow that reverberates to this day, was when an upperclassmen, having watched the shenanigans, pulled me aside, and asked me what I was doing with the condom. It was the way that he said it, with the implication that I obviously have given it up, so I should with him as well, that made me feel dirtier than I had ever felt in my life.
It is rare that I have felt this feeling through my life, but every time I do, it brings me back to that moment. I have pondered this many times over the years. Just what was it that made me feel so dirty and worthless. I have come to realize that it was his sense of entitlement that disgusted me. I have often said to friends, that I don't care if someone has just watched me sleep with an entire sports team, if I say no to you, that is my prerogative. If I have previously been with you, there is no guarantee you will again. At no point, should you ever expect that past permission indicates future permission.
Ironically, this post was not about sexual matters. What brought all of this back to me, all of these years later, was an incident at my office just last week. A client was telling me that one of their friends, upon hearing about a wonderful deal I had granted her, was confident that [they] could be given the same deal. I have no relationship with this person, and yet, [they] felt they could bully me into something by flashing a few dollars.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, entitlement is a noun and is defined as the following
: the condition of having a right to have, do, or get something
: the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges)
: a type of financial help provided by the government for members of a particular group
I do understand the annoyance with "entitlements." It is a wonderful code word to use, since you look like a jerk if you call benefits, "help for mothers, children and elderly." Call it entitlement, and the picture changes drastically! I understand the visceral disgust with people that feel as though they can pick and choose whatever they want in life, and expect to receive it. It is the taking from others, that which was not granted, that is never acceptable.