Another day, another sexual assault allegation. It seems we can’t go a single day without hearing another account of some man in a position of power doing something ranging from crude or creepy to downright criminal.
The dam broke with Harvey Weinstein and there has been a steady flow of names ever since. This is not surprising as there is no expiration date on these allegations, with many of them going back decades. And no industry seems to be immune from this behavior. From restaurants to entertainment to media to politics, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street and Washington, the allegations have piled up so high, it’s hard to even sift through them all at this point. Fatigue is starting to set in.
Obviously, this has been a watershed moment for women. No woman should ever be harassed and certainly not assaulted in the workplace or anywhere for that matter. Period.
And if that message hasn’t gotten through loud and clear to every man in America by now, then we have a problem.
But while this moment has brought about great clarity, it has also unfortunately left some areas a bit murky.
All men are not horrible. And women aren’t perfect either.
I feel like with this avalanche of allegations, men in general feel pretty beat up on these days. Sure, I have had to deal with my own share of creepy dudes and their comments over the years, but 99 percent of the men I have encountered either as co-workers or in other professional settings have been honorable, respectful, wonderful human beings who would never in a million years engage in this type of behavior. Thankfully, the good guys far outnumber the bad ones. Let’s not lose sight of that!
And ladies, we aren’t perfect either. In fact, there is probably just as much — if not more — psychological abuse heaped on women in the workplace by other women than there is sexual harassment towards them by men. I am certainly not saying one bad behavior excuses another, but while we are all self-reflecting, we need to take a good look at ourselves in the mirror too, my fellow women-folk. I know we could do a better job of being supportive of one another. In fact, in some of these high-profile sexual harassment cases, we learned other women were enabling the men to do these horrendous things to women they should have been looking out for. “Oh, that’s just Charlie being Charlie.”
There are different types of bad behavior.
There is a huge difference between a guy who is your equal at work who asks you out or pats you a little too low on the back one time or calls you “honey” and your boss who disrobes or does something else more disgusting in front of you (Looking at you, Louis C.K.) or implicitly or explicitly threatens your job or to ruin your career if you don’t kiss him or sleep with him.
It just seems like many rather minor incidents have been lumped together with the inexcusable ones as part of this #MeToo movement. I’ve had my butt patted before, I would rather it never happen again, but it has not required years of therapy for me to get over it. So let’s not overdramatize every little thing that has ever happened to us.
I am certainly not trying to tell any woman what she should or should not feel comfortable with, but if it gets to the point where people start rolling their eyes at some of these seemingly minor infractions, the really egregious ones are going to get lost in the mix. And that’s not fair to those women. And this movement will ultimately lose its gravity and the opportunity for change will be lost.
Do all “crimes” deserve the same “punishment?”
I think when a moment like this occurs, there is a danger of overcorrection. The word “zero tolerance” has been used a lot in the past month as these stories have unfolded. Again, these truly predatory actions should have never been tolerated in the first place and certainly not going forward. But how far are we going to go to right these wrongs?
Yes, the Harvey Weinsteins and Charlie Roses and Louis C.K.’s deserved to lose their jobs and book deals and televisions shows, basically everything. Voters in this state will get to act as judge and jury for Roy Moore in two weeks and it remains to be seen if he will be “punished” at the ballot box for his alleged “crimes.” I certainly think he should be.
But does the New York Times reporter who acted inappropriately, but certainly not up to the level of the alleged actions of Roy Moore and Harvey Weinstein, deserve the same fate? Maybe I should lose my girl card here, but I just don’t think so. There has to be some balance. We can’t cut off the head of every guy who has looked at a girl the wrong way or perhaps misread cues from a co-worker he’s interested in.
We all know the difference between habitual, aggressive predators and otherwise decent guys who might have made a mistake. But in this highly charged atmosphere, I feel like we’re going to go after the latter as hard as the former and that’s just not right.
Again, I am happy these stories have shed light on a problem that has plagued women from Wall Street to Main Street for decades. It is long overdue. But at the same time, we can’t go overboard on this. Overreaction and overcorrection will only serve to extinguish all the positive actions that have come out of this movement. And put us right back where we started.