More and more increasingly we are hearing about the sexual harassment of women in the workplace. This is nothing new. It is as old as the beginning of time, in fact you will find references to sexual harassment in the Bible. Man since day one have looked at women not as partners or as soul mates the way it was intended but as objects, someone to control and push around. Women are to serve their needs and don’t ask questions, they don’t have a mind of their own and need a man if they even want to survive. These are very contradictory statements considering the strides women have made but the problem is not all of us stand on the same playing field. And here’s the thing, there are those of us out there that WANT a man to take care of them and thus taylor her life to his. This opens the door to a lot of questions like, “Why can’t she provide for herself?” and “Does she know how bad she’s making it for the rest of us?”. The truth is No, she doesn’t. The reason being is because she was always told that in order to be successful in life or to be stable, she needs to marry a man who will talke care of her-preferably a rich man. This is one of the reasons why men think they way they do about women, that they want to be taken care of, they like it when a man asserts his authority over her, it makes her feel ‘wanted”.
There is also the position of power that makes a man feel entitled to this kind of behavior. But we can also look at it this way. There are a plethera of scenarios out there that place women below men in many instances. We see it most definitely in entertainment media, politics, social justice and corporate america. The recent headline of Harvey Weinstein and his sexual escapades forced him to step down from the Weinstein Company because of the many allegations against him of rampant sexual harassment. According to the New York Times one-third of Weintein’s all-male board resigned after hearing about the allegations. That’s very telling. We have a President that has and still continues to sexually harasss women-even in front of First Lady Melania! Countless male politicians have and still do it as well, Bill Clinton, Elliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner to name a few but of course there’s much more. When it comes to social justice women are always the last ones to receive it if they get it at all. Then there’s corporate america……I think that speaks for itself.
Sexual harassment is a human rights violation that steals women’s ability to function professionally and do their job effectively. And most importantly, it’s illegal. But women are still having a hard time coming forward, why? Because there is something called “retribution” which can come in many forms and the most popular is the lose of a job. Another popular reason being that if they are the ONLY voice speaking out they won’t be believed. It will be brushed aside as she was flirting too much or he said something to her she didn’t like and now she’s claiming sexual harassment. Then comes the ostracization in the workplace making it a hostile environment to work in resulting in a resignation. If we look at both sexual harassement and rape they garner the same response and reaction, they are basically one in the same. There are many injustices done to women in the US but very few are exposed and when they are, victim blaming sets in and pushes women more into the shadows to deal with their trauma and anxiety alone.
There are so many things that tie in together that affect how women in our society are being treated. The unrelentless barrage of sexualized images of women, gender stereotypes, unequal pay, rape, assault, pornography and human trafficking. These are just a few. The overall view society has of women and yes how other women view eachother also affect us.
Women everywhere are plagued with harassment in some way. If we look at the Middle East and North African countries you will see the blatant street harassment that borderlines on sexual assault and rape. In Egypt 99% of women are experiencing sexual harassment in the streets so much so that the organization HarassMap based in Cairo has set up a system where women can report harassment from anywhere. Unfortunately, that’s all they can do because the government won’t stop it. Come to think if it, neither will this one.
All of us have a lot in common and if we are to make things better for women and girls all over the world the way a lot of us claim, we really need to be a unified voice. No more victim blaming, slut shaming and racial bias. It’s the oldest strategy in the playbook, divide and conquer and a lot of us fall for it every time. I know there may be exceptions to the rule but those are few and far between and EVERY claim no matter if it’s one or one hundred women, it needs to be taken seriously.
If there is a time to raise young women to be fearless, independent and who can be okay with or without a man, the time is now. Their sole existence should not be to rely on someone who doesn’t value or respect them……ever.