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    When it comes to harassment, what is your role?

    challenge posed by Bruce Watson 75 days 22 hours 12 minutes ago

    Category: Politics
    Challenge Forum

    When it comes to harassment, what is your role?

    I recently came across a pair of articles that, together, give an interesting glimpse into how the sexual harassment environment is changing. One covered Billy Bush’s appearance on the Late Show, where he reiterated that Donald Trump bragged about sexual harassment on the Access Hollywood bus. But when it came to explaining why he didn’t push back against Trump, Bush faltered, lamely pointing out that he thought Trump’s comments were a comedy routine.

    The other article recapped a public disagreement between John Oliver and Dustin Hoffman that occurred during a panel discussion about one of Hoffman’s movies. Oliver surprised the actor by bringing up the sexual harassment allegations against him, and the discussion became heated. Members of the audience criticized Oliver for going off topic, but he explained that he felt it was important to bring it up, as “No one stands up to powerful men.”

    Rather than focusing on sexual harassers and victims, these events put the spotlight on bystanders. Billy Bush chose not to speak out about Trump’s sexist comments, while Oliver chose to shift from a movie discussion — which his audience had paid to see — to a harassment discussion that many of them didn’t want to witness. But for all their differences, Oliver and Bush both made a decision about their values, their responsibility, and their willingness to create an uncomfortable environment in order to address a larger point. Faced with sexual harassers, they chose either to face the problem or to turn away.

    It’s an issue that resonates: to a great extent, we’re all bystanders, and we’re all being forced to figure out where we stand on these issues. Knowing what we now know, can we still see “The Graduate” the same way? Do the events of this year change the way hear a Louis CK set, or see a Pixar film, or watch George Takei? Does Billy Bush’s failure change the way we react to our friends when they say something offensive? Where do we draw our lines between appropriate and inappropriate behavior?

    Your Challenge

    Our culture is in the midst of redefining many of its rules, and we are all part of that discussion. Where do you stand on the changing rules and perspectives around sexual harassment? Are we too insensitive? Are we oversensitive? What do you consider an appropriate punishment for a harasser? How about a bystander? Do you have a story about a time when you stood up to harassment…or failed to do so?

    Re: When it comes to harassment, what is your role?

    I think we we aren't sensitive enough. Everything going on right now isn't about harassment. It's about powerful people that a lot of people don't like. Whether or not the allegations are true isn't the real controversy. People hate Trump so they say what they can to make him look bad. Nobody cares about the harassment and what others had to go through they just care about making others look bad.

    Sexual harassment needs to be taken more seriously. it can have a devastating effect on a person and no one deserves to be disrespected and mistreated in that way or any way. Our society needs to learn to treat each other with more dignity and respect.

    Re: When it comes to harassment, what is your role?

    I feel like we are not sensitive enough. I think we can look at what os going on in the media now and take that As an example. All the ladies that have been sexually harassed by these men in power and they are just feeling comfortable enough to talk about it now. Incidents that happen long years ago, can you imagine burying that inside for so long. These people didn't feel like they would have a voice because society didn't make them feel comfortable to speak up.

    I have never experienced sexual harassment before but I feel like if I did, knowing what I know now I would definitely speak up. Whether it be to me or to a fellow cowork, either male or female because it goes both ways.

    Re: When it comes to harassment, what is your role?

    Hi bruce Watson,

    I do not believe we are sensitive enough. I also do not believe that real progress has been made until in peoples' everyday lives in the workplace are safe from sexual harassment, comments, and assault. Until that woman in the office isn't coerced by her boss or mentor to sleep with him for a raise, our workplace is not a safe place. Until that waitress/waiter's butt isn't touched by customers and the manager tells them to brush it off, our employees aren't safe. When we finally stop sending young adolescent girls home because their bra straps showing (distracting boys), our children will learn that their bodies are more important than their education.

    With all this being said, everyone deserves humanity and respect. the feeling of violation and being stripped of one's safety is a very scary experience. Everyone deserves to feel safe when going out and about. People also deserve to be heard when a violation of their bodily autonomy occurs. It is a very dishonoring experience to be harassed and it is honestly a very scary experience that no one should have to go through.

    The best thing I can do is continue to create conversation regarding these issues and donate money to trusted organizations that support this cause. Also, to teach my children respect, boundaries, listening, and love.

    Cheers!

    Song

    Re: When it comes to harassment, what is your role?

    I've been listening to podcasts about harassment recently, and in one this researcher wanted to find out why men catcalled women on the street in one of the most popular night scenes in Sydney Australia.

    She put on lipstick and ditched her business look for something that might be more prone to catcalling. And two men took the bait. She walked over to them and struck up discussion. The one man often called out to women passing on the street and no matter the reaction, he assumed they liked the attention. Now he wasn't an all around bad guy - he really seemed to think that women enjoyed it.

    He told the researcher sometimes he would go up to a group of women and slap the hottest one on the butt. He viewed this as a compliment and that the other women in the group would be jealous in a way.

    Well the researcher tried to tell him that not all women would enjoy something like this, and had he ever thought that they in fact didn't enjoy it at all. But he refused to accept this and admitted that it was only in fun. He would never do this to a woman by herself, and he would never grab her by the butt because that would be offensive.

    After several hours talking with him and sharing statistics of women who were made uncomfortable by this kind of catcalling behavior and even threatened, he promised to not slap women on the butt.

    Harassers have gotten by because of what you said "no one wants to stand up to a powerful man." Sensitivity to this issue is rightfully so. It's important to address these situations, and confront the people involved. Otherwise men won't understand that it's wrong, like in the story above. They'll think that women like it, just like Trump thinks women like when men assert their power sexually.

    My role is to not stand down, which is so much easier said that done. When something happens in the moment, you never know what you'll really do until it happens. But in order to help with this issue, we need to keep our ears peeled and say something if the situation doesn't feel right.

    Re: When it comes to harassment, what is your role?

    Not that many years ago, this exact discussion was occurring about racism. There were people who claimed that society was too sensitive and needed to stop focusing on what they considered minor incidents of racism, which to them were harmless. Then there were people who realized that the root of racism is hate, fear and ignorance, and when that ignorance manifests in any form at all, it hurts the entire cause. To create change on a worldwide scale regarding racism, the root cause had to be addressed.

    We have come a long way since the 1960’s, although we aren’t quite living in a society free of racism yet. Today’s feminist activists realize the same thing- that the root cause of harassment is bigger than just men being jerks. It’s the same fight that our grandmothers fought for voting rights, for abortion rights, and for workplace rights. It’s just taking it one step further and dealing with the root cause of harassment: sexism. Until women and men are actually equal, we will forever be dealing with the effects of an imbalanced power dynamic.

    During previous feminists movements, many women didn’t understand why the fight was important. “We’re happy being homemakers, we don’t feel like second class citizens!” they insisted. Yet if you ask any women today if women were treated like second class citizens when they were not allowed to vote or earned the same much as a man with a high school degree when they had their master’s degree, every women today would say yes. We’ve come a really long way and that just shows us how much progress is still possible. Lots of women back then thought that was as far as progress would ever go- but we’ve progressed more and are still progressing.

    I think the word “sensitive” implies that we are emotionally reacting. That word doesn’t belong in this conversation. It is not “sensitive” to hold rapists accountable or to address minor infractions on equality that lead to attitudes that excuse rape . It is not “sensitive” to demand more for ourselves and our daughters. This isn’t about emotions- it’s about fairness and equality.

    We want to teach men that the root cause of harassment is sexism, and that by harassing women they are contributing the sexist treatment of women. I think stopping harassment by educating men is the best method and is very important in the fight for equality.

    Re: When it comes to harassment, what is your role?

    I think it's beyond time we started listening to women (and men!) who come forward with allegations of sexual assault/harassment and take action to investigate the perpetrators, not cast doubt on the motives of survivors. The latter attitude was so pervasive for so long it allowed men, especially men with any sort of power, to act inappropriately without being checked and made generations of women feel that their safety was not as important as letting men think they were funny. We cannot be truly equal until our right to feel safe everywhere is upheld and respected.

    I have definitely been guilty of supporting rape culture. Whether it was passing judgment in the past of women who come forward with claims and then settle, or not telling guys who say sexist or lewd things that they are wrong, my inaction in those sort of situations has facilitated these actors to continue to infringe on my rights and discourage women from standing up for themselves and I am not proud of that.

    I am happy to see that there is such a tremendous outpouring of support for survivors and whistleblowers. It gives me hope in an otherwise dismal political environment that our attitudes are changing and people are not tolerating offensive and reckless behavior anymore.

    Re: When it comes to harassment, what is your role?

    Hello Bruce,

    I feel that we currently live in a society where sexual assault is tolerated. When it is addressed, we care about it for a minute and then another topic comes up and we forget. I think that is a terrible way to live. In my opinion, we are too weak toward punishment for sexual assault. First of all, most victims are scared to come forward. They feel that either their professional life or social standing will be hindered if they come forward. People should not feel ashamed to step forward and address that they have been mistreated with a wrongdoing.

    Punishment for sexual assault should be strict. People should know that you have done wrong. They ruined someone's live by assaulting them, so why shouldn't they be treated the same way? I feel that many young women who come forward are judged and accused of telling a lie or exaggerating of what happened to them, which is a huge shame in my opinion.

    All in all, I feel that there should be a zero tolerance policy. This is a hostile topic but people should not feel ashamed to step forward.

    Thank you!

    Tom

    Re: When it comes to harassment, what is your role?

    Sexual harassment has been a disease of society with the allegations that are being made now arguably society’s attempt at confronting an issue that has existed since the beginning of society and quite possibly further back than that. This revolt against the oppression of those victimized to be an opportunity for society to perform a complete reevaluation of the various institutions, systems, and cultural values that can promote or permit such incidents. This series of accounts against perpetrators could also spur a resurgence in the structures that are responsible for the harassment incidents to begin with. I hope that the result is a reformed society that can better confront sexual harassment along with other controversial topics.
    The conflict that emerges with the context of arguments against society’s vices regarding harassment and similar offenses is the sense that there is a “a proper time and place.” That notion was contorted to provide a haven for the perpetrators rather than a place of equal standing where victims could face their accusers on fair terms. Court and interview processes have been known to further traumatize the victims. Entire communities have acted to hide incidents or terrorize victims for attempting to seek justice or warn others. Inputting the conversation where it does not belong is one way of ensuring that the topic gets addressed, especially if the proper context does not provide a domain to effectively address the issues.
    Bystanders have their role in preventing or permitting these offenses if they are in the capacity to intervene. If someone is losing consciousness, suffers from a serious ailment, dying, etc., intervention would be limited if not improbable. If one is able and in the proximity to act to alter a situation, then such action should be taken. It speaks tones when those who act heroically speak that such actions should be regarded as the responsibility of one human being to another, not merely the result of some difference of thinking of a rare selection of human beings. Understandably, not everyone can fight off an attacker, or climb great heights to save a person’s life, or be effective at talking to others within a crisis. We all have our individual capabilities. That does not mean that we cannot act in some other capacity than that which would be immediately suggested.

    Re: When it comes to harassment, what is your role?

    I find that most politicians deflect direct questions revolving their scandals and sexual assault charges. Ex: When Trump was asked to respond to allegations and his own comments about sexual assault, he deflected and focused on Bill Clinton's sexual assault history. It is about owning up to your despicable actions and being held accountable.

    I hope within the changing culture and societal voice that we can eliminate the tolerance of sexual assault. In instances where I am safe, I will raise my voice to catcalling, unwanted sexual advances, and assault. However, I feel unsafe interjecting, it is vital to find another figure who perhaps is more stern, strong, or intimidating looking. It is EVERYONE'S responsibility to interject during sexual assault. It is unacceptable and intolerable.

    I have found the best way to combat an unwanted advance is to make a scene. I yell very loudly, "Are you a sexual predator?" and for the most part they run.