To say “the tides are changing” regarding women’s voices being heard and men paying for sexual harassment is an understatement. Matt Lauer is the latest man to lose his job following a sexual harassment accusation. The list of men going down is getting longer by the day and the number of accusers seems to be growing by the minute. I honestly never expected the tides to change so quickly and with such force. Although “so quickly” is a misnomer since this behavior has been going on for a millennium largely ignored, laughed at and accepted. However, now that voices are finally being heard, things are happening at lightning speed. If feels like a tsunami has been set off—or as Malcolm Gladwell would say—it feels like we have finally reached the tipping point. And to that I say AMEN.
Females of all ages have known this behavior has been going on at every level, in every arena across the entire world. Women are not the least bit shocked, surprised or even mildly stunned. They have lived with this their entire lives. The difference now though is they are speaking about it outside of their inner sanctuaries. They are reporting it and using the reports of others to give them courage to report their own incidents of harassment. Females are also, for the first time, beginning to stand behind one another rather than attacking, doubting or blaming each other.
This is a powerful moment in history that has the potential to change the future for males and females going forward. Many of the men accused are dealing with lost jobs, tanking reputations and strained family relationships as a result of their actions. No longer can they walk through the world entitled and emboldened to treat others however they please. They will need to learn new ways of being in the world. No longer can they grab a woman’s privates whenever they feel like it, make raunchy comments or tell her what they’d like to do with her body without consequences. No longer can they drop their pants to a colleague or employee without repercussions.
Females are having their voices heard for the first time. No longer do they need to silence to a man’s harassment, shrink to a boss’s grope or laugh at the good ole’ boys sexist jokes. They will need to learn how to trust themselves—and one another. Women will need to pull back from their knee-jerk move to protect the men and go against the women in an effort to be on the “in”. They will need to learn to stand up to the harasser in the moment and press charges when warranted. Males and females alike will need to learn what sexual harassment is and isn’t and then act accordingly. Companies, our nation and our world will have to do the same.
Going forward, our world has a lot of work to do regarding sexual harassment/assault/rape. Women speaking up, sharing their stories and pressing charges is a step in the right direction. The world listening to those voices and backing them up with appropriate consequences is another step forward. Men calling other men out on their sexist behaviors will go far in changing this entitled toxicity. Take the time to join in the tides turning.
Challenge: Speak out against harassment—towards you or others. Pay attention to how you collude with it and stop colluding—out of fear, entitlement, indifference or other. Change the tides. Change the world.