Sexual harassment, abuse of power in the workplace they are all different, legally speaking, which is really important for the citizens out there to understand. We are being bombarded with all of these cases. We have to understand the difference between sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Sexual assault varies from state to state but in general, will involve touching of the breast, touching of the buttocks, or some kind of penetration. Whereas sexual harassment could be something, we’ve had cases where a worker is throwing paperclips or shooting rubber bands at another worker in an inappropriate type of way and then we have abuse of authority and what a lot of these cases are really coming down to and what we see in the media is abuse of authority where in the workplace, we have men in positions of power, abusing the authority they have over women in terms of whether or not to hire her, whether or not to promote her or give her a special project that would further her career. So we really need to refocus the discussion also on abuse of power.
One of the questions I have heard time and time again as these allegations come out against men, but in the case of Roy Moore as he runs for Senate, what makes these women so long to come forward? The allegations stem from decades ago from when this alleged victim was a teenager at the time. What do you say to people who wonder why it takes so long for these people to come forward? What takes women to come forward is that silence is what has been expected of women from the beginning of time.
So, it requires silence of women. Women are afraid of being chastised. Afraid that people are going to shame them, something that’s not accepted in your community and, even the young woman who wrote the letter to Russell Simmons mentioned in her letter that she expected to experience repercussions in her career, and to lose opportunities moving forward. What do you think these messages demand from all of these cases? It’s really for women and men.
I think men are an integral part of making the workplace better for women and making the environment safer for women. The cases of sexual assault are much more clear-cut. But, this idea of abuse of authority and leaving a woman down a path that she does not necessarily want to be led down, encouraging people to behave or entertain her sexually, to give her a raise or some other opportunity. We need to focus on educating men in terms of what is behavior and what is expected also. I don’t think there is anybody who doesn’t sympathize with these men or women who have had to endure this kind of behavior in the workplace.
So, how do you know as someone who is trying to be friendly and get along and perhaps be funny with coworkers, how do you know where that line is? And I think a lot of these cases are not cut and dry and there aren’t clear lines. That’s one of the problems we are faced with even when we talk about race and sexual assault. It’s problematic for women.
Legally, this is an affirmative consent which is more of a no means no, yes means yes standard and it also takes away from men. Men are placed in the position of predators in so many of these cases. What that does is balance a playing field for men and women. Yes, I give you my affirmative consent. Besides awareness, will we see any changes in the laws or changes in policies at companies? Companies are taking large financial hits.