Sexual harassment is still alive and well in our country. The recent events around the swearing in of the newly appointment justice shines the light again on the fact that there is still an understanding that harassing others is okay, as long as you are in power and have enough power to overcome accusations. With college fraternities still getting into trouble for behavior related to alcohol and inappropriate behavior, there is still a strong belief in this country that if you have power you can do inappropriate things and get away with it. It saddens me that this is the world where my daughters are growing up. We have more work and education to do.
The #metoo movement seems to be losing momentum, something that saddens me as well. I understand that there is an increasing fear of false accusations, especially among the male population, but some statistics still indicate that 1 in 3 women are sexually harassed (which I think is low due to under reporting), and 1 in 10 men report sexual harassment (which I also think is low). Other resources indicate that the numbers are higher, but with all the recent sexual harassment training going on, you would think the statistics would be significantly lower. I guess not.
Sexual harassment is not about sex, it’s about power, just like domestic violence and sexual assault. The perpetrators of harassment need to feel powerful, and keep people controlled. In larger organizations, that may come from comments and behaviors that are subtle. Perpetrators walk a fine line to be able to maintain their power, without stepping over the line, but the message is still very real. Your job is at risk if you try to fight. That is why so many people still don’t report harassment, and why we continue to have a significant problem related to this issue.
Sexual harassment training has to start in kindergarten, and even before. We have to learn to treat others with respect, no matter their sex, color, religion, sexual preference, or any other thing that people use to feel better than anyone else. Bullies still run rampant in this country, and that doesn’t seem like the country that our founding fathers had in mind. Our current political system is dividing our country in so many ways, pitting us against each other. How did that happen? We have been at war for so many years now, maybe we forgot what it was like to be more at peace.
There will always be conflict, and different opinions about things. There will always be people trying to get away with bad behavior, but I hope there will come a time when acceptance is more the norm. For now, the golden rule seems to be appropriate. We are one of the richest countries in the world, with more social problems than some of the poorest countries in the world. Again, how did that happen?
Harassment is still alive and well, and it will take everyone to make long term changes. We all must stand up for each other, support each other, and stand strong together. It’s time to tell the bullies “no more”. Things are changing, but we have so much further to go. This too is part of being happy, and healthy, for life.