One would have to be living under a rock on a desert island to not be affected by the tsunami that has washed over our land post-Harvey-Weinstein quake. Almost every day some new, old face emerges as an alleged sexual predator. My initial reaction has been: OH NO, not Kevin! NOT Dustin! But why not Kevin or Dustin? Dustin Hoffman recently tweeted that making women uncomfortable because of lewd comments is not who he is. I’m certain Mr. Hoffman doesn’t see himself as a sexual harasser or that, as an 80-year-old man with low testosterone levels, he no longer functions in this manner.
Whether we’re in Hollywood CA or Hollywood FL, Silicon Valley or Hudson Valley, few women have escaped being inappropriately touched, kissed, questioned, cornered or propositioned. My most recent experiences with sexual harassment went unreported. One perp was a client who hired me, another a client assigned to me and the third, the owner of the company for whom I worked. Who the hell was I going to report the offense to??
Sometimes a remedy doesn’t really address the issue as in this real-life story. A young, attractive woman was in an administrative position supporting an older senior officer. The man waited at the woman’s chair for her when she wasn’t at her desk and spent too much time hovering over her when she was there. The woman’s immediate supervisor took note of this behavior and succeeded in reassigning the man to a male support person. The problem was solved for the young woman but the man was never confronted about his inappropriate behavior.
Social sanctions must be in place to deal with two dangerous drugs: testosterone and power. We’ve got men in charge who sometimes lead with their penises. On one side of the continuum are men with serious addictions and on the other side are men making really bad judgment calls and the rest of us enabling them. We enable them by tolerating their inappropriate humor or comments. Enablers at the top are those who bear much blame. The rest of us are just trying to dig our ditches.
Funny No More
Just a few days ago, I watched a movie trailer in a theater promoting a comedy soon to be released that involves an ageing filmmaker pursuing a 17-year-old woman/girl. Unfortunate timing. Hard to believe this is a comedy; funny no more, friends.
Perhaps there is no putting the genie back in the bottle now. I’ve heard folks in the media refer to this period of time as a watershed moment: a tipping point, if you will. Only time will tell, of course, but we need more than whistleblowers for a significant cultural shift to occur. We need remedies and reeducation. We need folks at the top to cease enabling and we need all of us to learn what is acceptable behavior and what is not.
In the meantime, I applaud my sisters and brothers who are kicking ass and taking names.