Advice from the Trenches: Harassment

Dear C;

I was floored when I opened my browser and saw headlines that NBC “Today Show” host Matt Lauer had been fired. I’ve been listening to the news and it’s unbelievable – Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, George Bush Sr., Louie CK … unreal! Harvey Weinstein, that douche who set the ball rolling, was a clear cut case of chauvinism on steroids. The guy is obviously a pig who deserves to be in prison. But some of the stories just made me sad. Garrison Keillor? My mom thought of him as a favorite uncle.

I think it’s good that women are speaking out, because girls I know have told me about sexual harassment and it pisses me off that some men seem to feel they can hit on women and treat them like crap and get away with it. However, and please don’t call me a traitor to your cause, it does seem to me that this recent explosion is over the top. Why are they all suddenly speaking up NOW? It’s like there’s a “me too” bandwagon they all want to jump on, and some women are throwing on that “victim” cloak when they never even made an attempt to say no at the time it happened. Shouldn’t we all be responsible for keeping our own boundaries?

Big Mouth Mark

 

Dear Big;

Yes, we should all be responsible for keeping our own boundaries. But the majority of those making allegations in the news did just that and unfortunately, no one listened. Why? The deck was completely stacked against them.

There has been a conspiracy of silence in male-dominated arenas for many years. The entertainment industry and politics in particular are both cesspools for aspiring women. For the most part, the positions of power are held by men, and they have been using those positions to intimidate and prey sexually on females who depended on their approval for career advancement. This issue is more than a matter of any one woman standing up for herself. It’s a matter of one woman standing up against a centuries-old system with its tentacles rooted deep in the culture. When the head of a studio or an outranking congressman tries to grope you, a refusal doesn’t just mean hurt feelings or anger. It could be the end of your job, or the loss of a major film. And if you did stand up, who would even believe you? The Good Old Boys protect their own. The fact of the matter is, if a woman has to choose between standing up for her own dignity and being allowed to work in her career of choice, the principles have moved past that of personal responsibility and become something else – a form of persecution that is tantamount to mass genocide of the human spirit. The men who have perpetrated these crimes, or allowed them to continue by looking the other way, MUST be held accountable. The women (and some men) that we are hearing from in such numbers are finally making a difference – and it is because there are so many of them that they are being heard. I think that the heads have just started to roll.

But as far as speaking up for ourselves in our everyday lives? Yeah, we should. If a woman stands next to a man and ignores it while he gropes her behind everyone’s back, she’s giving silent permission to it. Women need to be less fearful of ruffling feathers. Yeah, men aren’t going to like it if we don’t take their crap. And yes, maybe our coworker IS going to try to get us fired if we report him. But if we want to be able to enforce our own boundaries, we need to have the courage to stand our ground. We might get a few cuts and bruises in the process. But no one makes it through life without a few scars.

In the real world, sexual harassment is not going to go away over night, but after the recent media purge, it is being seen in a whole new, and accountable, light. My only hope is that some day in the very near future, someone out there has the guts to turn that unflinching light on the POTUS and hold him accountable for the garbage that comes out of his mouth: “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” Don’t try to call it fake news, Donald. We’ve got that one on tape.

The above statements are my opinion and do not necessarily reflect those of Motif.

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