Sexual Harassment and Assault

It’s time for accountability. It’s time for men to stop strutting around and abusing their power, ruining the careers of many women in order to stroke their ego.

Since the first of October, new revelations about the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment has led to a new national and hopefully global conversation about women’s (and men’s) safety in the workplace, gender equity and the power and influence that leads to predators getting away with their crimes.

Harvey Weinstein. Mark Halperin. Kevin Spacey. Louis CK. Bill O’Reilly. Donald Trump. All of them have one thing in common: they are rich, powerful men who have gotten away with harassment and assault without major consequences. However, thanks to great investigative reporting by outlets such as the New York Times, CNN and the New Yorker and journalists like Ronan Farrow who meticulously gathered and corroborated the claims of numerous women against Harvey Weinstein, the nation has risen up to say: enough is enough.

The #MeToo movement is evident of this. It comprises of people of all genders, races and classes. There is no shared characteristic that makes one immune from sexual harassment/assault. It took one man getting exposed on the record, while the secret was well known in the inner sanctum of Hollywood, for outrage and frustration to boil over. Survivors shared their trauma and their pain on social media.

The revelations led to something surprising: consequences for rich men accused of predatory behavior. Harvey Weinstein got fired from his company and is facing a possible arrest warrant. Mark Halperin lost his contributor role at NBC News and MSNBC, his book deal with Penguin and a TV show with Showtime. Kevin Spacey has been fired from Netflix’s House of Cards, cut out from a movie releasing next month and is also facing multiple police investigations.

However, it is not enough to see these men get what they deserve. We need to talk about how women have been silenced through forced arbitration clauses and the implicit threat of having their careers ended if they go public with an accusation. We need to talk about how this kind of behavior has been enabled by both men and women in the workplace and beyond for decades. We need to talk about what changes we can implement both practically and mentally i.e. changes in contracts and changing people’s mentalities.

2017 is showing us that it is way past time for us to have this discussion. Women are stepping up and supporting each other. When women are united, we can stand against these men who don’t deserve their positions of power and respect. It is important for us to encourage women to keep speaking up and men to intervene when they see something wrong is happening.

Another point is the victim self-blaming that often happens. The sense of shame often keeps them from speaking up. If we can show them that the shame should be placed on the assaulter, then it could lead to more justice being served.

This isn’t partisan. Men across all ideological spectrums behave this way. This isn’t industry specific. From media outlets to Hollywood to Capitol Hill to the White House, men in positions of influence abuse their power. This is about women’s rights and their safety. And it’s about time that the social dynamic changes. This can start by putting more women in power.

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