There have been a rash of reports in the news lately of sexual harassment and sexual assault. It seems like every day there is a new report coming out. These reports are showing how wide spread of an issue this is and the need for a conversation of how to address sexual harassment and sexual assault on a national stage.
Here are some of the things these reports show:
- How wide spread it is.
- It affects both men and women.
- All industries are affected. There have been at least 25 men in Hollywood accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault. There have been members of the media accused, along with Politicians (to include accusations against the President before he was elected), a restaurant executive, a Head of Amazon Studios, YouTube stars, a geologist on expedition to Antarctica, it’s been widely reported on college campuses, and even to include Mariah Carey of being accused of sexual harassment by one of her bodyguards.
- Both men and women are capable of sexual harassment and assault as the accusation against Mariah Carey shows.
- It’s a big problem that needs to have a national conversation.
- Sometimes all it takes is one brave victim to speak out for other victims to feel safe to tell their stories.
The attitude of boys will be boys has greatly contributed to the culture of sexual harassment and sexual assault we see today. The fruit of this thinking is shown with the idea that if a woman is pretty, is dressed a certain way, or even by virtue of her being a woman is reason enough to give cat calls, say inappropriate things, or to touch her in an inappropriate way is “okay” because women “like” getting attention, and is looked at as “just flirting”. Men need to understand that certain “types” of flirting is not really flirting, it’s disrespectful behavior, and is not acceptable. We need to have a discussion on a national level about changing attitudes that many men have towards women. Women are not objects to satisfy men’s desires nor are we objects to fuel their egos. This is another root cause of today’s sexual assault and sexual harassment culture. A lot of these mindsets start off in subtle ways and then mature into more harmful ways.
There is another culture forming that is just as harmful as the boys will be boys attitude. It’s something I’m seeing more and more of. Women giving cat calls towards men, making comments about how “good” or “sexy” a man looks with his shirt off or how “hot” his muscles are; after all, men “love” getting attention from women. These are the same types of attitudes men have towards women that manifest in such inappropriate and harmful ways. With these attitudes and behaviors becoming more common among women, I think we will start seeing reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault against women become more widely reported. As women we need to recognize that if these behaviors came from men we would be offended (as we should be). Therefore, we need to remind each other that if these behaviors would be inappropriate for men to do then it is equally inappropriate for women to do. Just because it is behavior we may see coming from men does not make it okay for us to do; it only adds to this culture of sexual harassment and assault that we are dealing with today.
This goes beyond acknowledging someone is good looking, we all have eyeballs that work. We need to address why it is so easy to dismiss or attack a victim when they speak out instead of supporting them; why is it that the burden of shame too often lands on the victim instead of the predator. This is why a conversation on a national level needs to happen to address attitudes of what is and is not acceptable behavior towards others. Sexual assault and sexual harassment is not, at its core, about one person being attracted to another person, but most often an issue of control and dominance over others. We need to address as a society how these mindsets and attitudes are being cultivated and protected to create a safe haven in our society.