In the wake of Harvey Weinstein's firing, Jezebel reports men are opting to avoid to their women co-workers out of fear they too could be accused of sexual harassment.
Let's unpack this, fellas.
A powerful man is accused of sexual harassment. Then, most shockingly, he faces actual consequences. He loses his job. It’s big news. How do you react?
If your reaction is to think, ‘Wow, I better start avoiding my women coworkers lest something like this happen to me and ruin my life’ you are making some, perhaps unconscious, assumptions.
When that powerful man comes to his own defense ‘I’m innocent!’ ‘These claims are wildly exaggerated’ ‘These women are out for a payday’ he casts himself as the victim in the situation. The perpetrator of sexual harassment finally facing concrete consequences after decades of predatory behavior is actually the victim. Sure, he abused his power, silenced his victims with the threat of ruining their careers and paid off anyone who dared speak up against him, but the real injustice is that at long last he is being held responsible for this behavior. You believe the man is the victim.
The women speaking up are doing so for their own gain. For a pay day. For fame. Or they are lying. They are hell bent on destroying a man’s reputation, career, *entire life* for their own gain. You believe the woman is the predator.
If you see a powerful man taken down for his decades of sexual misconduct, and think to yourself, ‘what if that happens to me?’ you are identifying with the man. You identify with because you are also a man and you also have things you could lose. What if he is innocent? If he’s innocent, and I am also innocent I could also be taken down by false claims. You do not identify with the woman. You do not have the experience of being a woman therefore do not identify with her. In the spirit of fair-mindedness, you are skeptical of all accusations. What if it isn’t true? you ask yourself. This is the balanced approach, right? How can we be sure? How can we just take this woman at her word? If we are to take a woman at her word, shouldn’t we also take a man at his word? Isn’t that fair? Therefore, whenever a woman makes a claim of sexual harassment you do not fully believe her. You inherently distrust women.
All of these (maybe unconscious, maybe not) assumptions are how *good* men perpetuate the toxic culture of workplace sexual harassment.
Over and out!