For the past several weeks, the news cycle has moved from primarily politics and the White House to Harvey Weinstein and sexual harassment. Either way, the news isn’t good.
Me too. That has become the anthem for women who have been sexually harassed, abused or assaulted in the workplace or in life in general. It began as a rallying cry for those women who began to speak up as victims of Weinstein. The Me Too movement now includes all victims — male and female — of sexual harassment and worse.
Me Too in reality could, and maybe does, apply to 90 percent of the workforce in the entertainment industry. While I’m guessing the majority of the victims are women, surely not all. Many powerful women in key positions have victimized the people who work for them.
The “casting couch” has long been part of the entertainment world. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase that someone “slept their way” into a promotion or a new job. This type of behavior is why we now have sexual harassment training, policies, procedures and more in every workplace across the country.
The entertainment industry isn’t the only one where harassment occurs. Waiters and waitresses, flight attendants, nurses, secretarial type positions, sales positions — basically just about anyone who works for another person has the potential to be a victim of sexual harassment. Even the news industry. And the predators aren’t always a boss or coworker. It’s often a customer, client or even a news source.
What is so sad is that it’s taken this long for the victims of predators the likes of Weinstein and Bill Cosby to feel strong enough to speak up. Sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace isn’t far removed from domestic violence, which often involves sexual abuse. The victims are scared and lack the confidence to speak up. Who will believe them? Their husbands, bosses, friends, coworkers are more powerful. The predators hold the power, and threaten careers and family if the victim speaks up.
Victims choose silence over the possibility of losing and being ostracized. Until now. There is power in numbers.
I applaud those who have chosen to find their voice and speak out. It takes courage, just as the silence took courage. Allowing any one person the likes of Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby, or any other person to abuse another woman or man, is not acceptable. Unfortunately, it has been accepted for far too long, and sadly many victims will continue to suffer in silence.
I wish there was an easy answer, an easy fix. But there isn’t. All the laws, policies, training, education and procedures won’t magically change a person who believes he or she is above it all.
Whether the men and women accused are held accountable or find a way to skirt the charges remains to be seen. And whether the consequences will prevent others from committing similar actions is unknown. This isn’t new behavior. The difference is today victims are stronger and there are very few secrets in today’s world. That’s what predators should be afraid of.