The media has been having a field day with what seems to be a continuous stream of sexual harassment stories, and the targets have been both seemingly obvious and shocking. Although stories of sexual harassment have been reported by the media in the past, the level at which they are reported now is, in a lack of better words, insane. So what are my thoughts? I say “Hell Yes” to all the brave men and women who are stepping forward and sharing their stories. It is not an easy thing to do regardless of who the perpetrator is; this I know. It is about damn time that we stop criticizing the victims in a bullshit effort to justify the actions of the guilty. But…have we really done this? My concern lies in the theory of a pendulum swinging from one side to another; quickly, drastically, and without much control. We have often seen media frenzies result in a distaste for the overall story. Remember the Nickleback song “Photograph”? Of course you do! Even if you hate Nickleback you can probably sing a majority of the lyrics to this song, because it was played over and over and over again on the radio. So you know the song, but still hate the band. See where I’m going with this? The media is reporting these stories over and over and over again, but is it causing us to internalize (or for some, externalize) an annoyance or distaste for the spotlighting of this issue? Are we starting to see these stories and have a “roll my eyes” experience? If so, how do we combat this reaction?
Through the dissolution of ignorance by means of education!! Teach people!! Sexual harassment education has been on the rise throughout college campuses, and this is a huge step. But many perpetrators and victims are far beyond their college years so what about them? Our cultural beliefs have to be dissected. What causes one to feel they have a right to sexually harass another person? What causes a victim to feel that they must keep quiet or go along with the harassment? Where the hell are the morals of those in power that let this happen over and over and over again? This isn’t a code of conduct issue, this is a people issue. I say we continue spreading the stories of those who want to gain freedom from their secrets, while also developing and promoting ways to teach people. If a fear of being exposed is the reason for a potential perpetrator to decide not to make inappropriate sexual advances, will that fear eventually subside? Will he or she eventually decide it’s worth the risk? My thought is, yes, most likely the perpetrator will wait for another time, another opportunity, or another potential victim. But, what happens if we focus on the belief system of equality? My goodness…haven’t we been fighting for this for decades, even centuries? You would think we would get it by now, but unfortunately there is still much work to be done. So, next time you are a witness to harassment, speak up. Next time you are engaged in conversation with someone about harassment, speak up. Hopefully this does not happen to you, but if you are a victim of harassment, punch that mofo in the face and then speak up. We need to speak out and speak up. We need to embrace each other because sometimes we need this ridiculous reminder that we are, in fact, all humans!! Share our stories, but also teach others. Lets keep this pendulum swinging in the direction of long lasting mutual respect for each other; regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, disability, wizardry, etc. Only then will we truly be free of this nonsense.