Bill Cosby. Roger Ailes. Bill O’Reilly. Harvey Weinstein. Kevin Spacey. Senator Al Franken. Representative John Conyers. Charlie Rose. Matt Lauer.
The list is long (likely even beyond even what we know)…and the allegations know no bounds.
We are in the midst of a substantive transformation in the relationship between men and women in the professional environment. What we’ve seen come out over the last year or so in the sexual harassment allegations is..not a sign…not a signal..but an out-and-out pronouncement that this behavior will no longer be tolerated..and women will no longer be silent.
There IS a line, and it’s not okay to cross it.
As a career journalist, a number of these cases hit close to home. It is at the same time shocking…but (quite honestly) not completely unexpected. Journalism…for the longest time…was a ‘boys’ club’. A segment of the movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy made light of it…but it wasn’t far-fetched at all. That environment is no longer acceptable with more diverse newsrooms in every medium…and at every level.
We…as men…must understand that it’s all about respect. If we don’t understand this, we will be swept out with the trash. This is not to say that there aren’t people out there who may try to take advantage of what I’ve heard called this “age of empowerment” to simply get people who aren’t liked out of the picture. I hope that doesn’t happen…because it will diminish that quest for respect that is so richly deserved.
Actress Angela Lansbury of Murder, She Wrote fame recently commented…controversially…on this in a Radio Times interview saying:
“There are two sides to this coin. We have to own up to the fact that women, since time immemorial, have gone out of their way to make themselves attractive. And unfortunately it has backfired on us — and this is where we are today. We must sometimes take blame, women. I really do think that. Although it’s awful to say we can’t make ourselves look as attractive as possible without being knocked down and raped.”
I can’t say I agree. Women being attractive and taking pride in making themselves so is NOT an ‘invitation’ for disrespect.
Again…there IS a line, and it’s not okay to cross it.
We as men should be paying very close attention right now. The lifting of women’s voices that started just a day after this year’s presidential inauguration will not die down.
And when it comes to sexual misconduct or harassment…or bad behavior of any kind, there is no more hoping that no one speaks out…and that the truth will be hidden — even up to the highest office in the land.
That will be a story for another day.