This post had been on my mind for a long time and I was finally able to put it in writing.
For months we’ve been hearing dozens (hundreds?) of stories of women alleging a certain man sexually harassed them or did much worse things to them in recent times or decades ago.
But it wasn’t until this week that it kind of hit home for me.
Fortunately nothing even resembling the least troublesome of stories has never happened to me. I’ve been blessed in my entire career to work along intelligent and respectful men who have never dared crossed any boundaries with me.
But earlier this week, the Matt Lauer allegations started coming out. At first, it was just one. I remember watching the Today Show that morning and tearing up alongside Savanah and Hoda as they talked about their good friend Matt and how heartbroken they were for him.
Aside from watching him on TV every morning for the past 12+ years, I knew nothing about him but just felt heartbroken for him, too. Here’s a seemingly nice guy who in the span of a few hours had his life ruined by one single allegation. Just one. Instead of finding proof and believing just one woman, it looked like, his employer simply fired him.
But then I started reading more about his goings-on at the company, and how he wasn’t the guy-next-door he pretended to be on TV.
It turns out he was kind of a scumbag with (allegedly) a button in his office to lock it from the inside, and who (ATTENTION >> MATURE CONTENT AHEAD>>) had once given a female colleague a sex toy with a note stating he’d like to see her with it, or something along those lines.
Savanah and Hoda brought up a great point during their announcement to their audience that Wednesday morning: “How do you reconcile your love for someone who does bad things?”
But forget about love: If those allegations are true, the guy is DONE in the media–much like many of his counterparts who decided to treat some women in reprehensible ways.
I kind of got off on a tangent there so let me get back to my original point: If those allegations are true, those men are scumbags, pigs, and whatever other terms you can think of for someone who abuses their authority (either real or imagined, as is the case with Louis C.K. the perv) in those ways.
And I’m not victim-shaming here. This is just something I thought about recently that originated exclusively from my no-nonsense/common-sense approach to most things in life.
OK it may well be the case that those men deserve what’s coming to them.
Do both genders not share a responsibility in this?
Let me explain more.
My review at my company was scheduled for yesterday at 2 PM. A few minutes beforehand, my boss (a guy in his late 30s) came to me and said that he’d ll have to move it to 2:30 because his boss (a female) wasn’t out of a meeting yet and he’d like a female in the room with us, so he was waiting for another woman to be available.
I’m sure you just assumed the worst, didn’t you?
But make no mistake: There’s no rhyme or reason why he’d want that “protection” other than because of this terrible landscape we’re living in.
Perhaps he got an email instructing all managers to never meet alone with a female employee unless there’s another female in the room.
Or perhaps he made up that rule for his own protection.
Either way, I thought it was smart.
In fact, as soon as he said that, I applauded him in my head and looked at him in a way that, to me, meant, “Good for you!”
Because even though I’d never say anything that wasn’t truthful about another man I work with, I realized my boss KNOWS better, and he just doesn’t want to be alone with a female underling, either during or outside work hours, period.
This reminds me of someone who said something along those lines, but who was so vilified, it was comical. However, I thought the whole thing was hilarious not because what he said was funny in nature, but because it made SO much sense, and the vitriol he received because of it was ridiculous.
I’m talking about Vice President Mike Pence, who a few months ago said that he doesn’t meet alone with another woman who’s not his wife.
The hate he got from that one perfectly reasonable comment was out-of-this-world hilarious. Of course it became a political issue.. “Conservatives just can’t keep it in their pants so they refuse to meet with other women, haha.”
And I guarantee you that if a woman had said it, someone would say, “Wow, poor her. Her husband won’t let her meet with other men.”
But imagine where society would be if more women DID have that rule.
I was once at a work retreat (for this same company) and I was one of several people invited to like an after-party in a colleague’s suite. I figured I’d go because I didn’t want to seem like I was isolating myself. It was my first year and I wanted to be “sociable” even though everyone knew by then I was more of a homebody. A quiet workhorse.
Anyways, I got to said “after party” and ended up being the only female there. There were about six-seven guys. Most of these men drink (I don’t, however) and so they had bottle upon bottle of alcohol. It was almost as if they had ransacked the liquor store and decided to build their own version there.
It was still early-ish in the night (maybe between 9 and 9:30–close to my bedtime, to be honest) so I don’t think anyone was drunk then.
But I couldn’t last there longer than ten minutes. I felt SO uncomfortable! They were rowdy, loud, and I couldn’t wait to leave because my mind kept making up weird stories, so I hightailed it out of there after just ten minutes or less.
(Had I known there wouldn’t be other women, I wouldn’t have even knocked on the door that night.)
I don’t really care if anyone doesn’t agree with my decision because the point I was trying to illustrate is this: Men and women and alcohol don’t mix. Men and women alone don’t mix.
Don’t wait to find out that the man you’re meeting with isn’t the noble employee you thought he was.
Perhaps nothing would have happened that night and I was merely being paranoid. But I always choose to be safe than sorry.
I don’t ever like playing the “What if” game, because the way I see it, mistakes are lessons. Something you don’t see favorably was probably meant to teach you something, so I stay away from looking at the other alternative. We can’t turn back time, after all.
But with the recent allegations, I can’t help but wonder what things would be like if women were or had been more cautious all along.
You want to meet me in your hotel room by yourself for “work”? No, thanks.
You want me to go to your window-less office with no one else? No, thanks.
You want me to accept this random gift from you? No, thanks.
You want to make that tasteless joke again? No, thanks.
Yu want me to look at you play with yourself? No, thanks.
(Seriously, why didn’t this woman just LEAVE or, I don’t know, turn around or close her eyes? What could loser Louis C.K. have done?!)
By now some people are probably thinking, “VICTIM SHAMING!”
But it’s not.
Yes, some men are pigs and they prey on women who they think are defenseless. And their actions couldn’t be justified by even the most reasonable of minds.
But other things ARE two-way streets. These perverts think that when women accede to a private “work” meeting in their hotel room, the woman must be giving them a pass.
Or that since gifts are socially acceptable, if a woman receives a gift from a man, that must mean she’s open to receiving other things.
But I think that the current situation not only will make more men overly cautious–it’s about time we women become more cautious as well.
(This somehow comes easier to Hispanic women–at least those from Latin America, who were raised to know that most men don’t have the best of intentions.)
Don’t just accept gifts from a guy. Don’t agree to meet him unless there’ll be someone else there. BE SMART.
Of course, we can’t turn back time and wish that the teenager from decades ago had spoken up. Although part of me does sometimes wish those women speaking out now, decades later, had said something back in the day.
But I do wish more women–wives, mothers, daughters–wake up and realize that they should perhaps not think the world is made of rose petals and glitter. Not all men are noble and honorable or even real men (see below). Maybe don’t allow little Jenny on the lap of that relative who you’ve always had a bad vibe about. Maybe don’t meet with Gary at the bar to talk about work.
And men, ohh dear men:
Masculinity is NOT about what you can have, possess, or even pursue. That’s the adolescent behavior of thinking you deserve to have everything you see. Remaining in that adolescent mindset makes us think we’re supposed to USE things for the rest of our lives.
Masculinity is NOT an outward expression. Some think that our looks, our accomplishments, and our possessions should guarantee us some form of sexual attention. And then if we don’t get it, we find ways to go out and take it.
Make sure you’re running with the right tribe: Is every man you know insecure and looking for things to conquest and fulfill his life? That’s NOT masculinity; that’s weakness! Running with that pack will teach you that it’s OK to treat [others] like things rather than people. Those things don’t make you an alpha; they make you an a$$.
No more “boys will be boys and men will be men.” We’re not going to tolerate that anymore.
Masculinity works against temptations and strives for faithfulness, even in light of our many mistakes and acts of rebellion. It will most likely go unrecognized in your lifetime, but you WILL be remembered for it when you’re gone.
Watch the video:
What’s YOUR take on what’s currently going on in society with these harassment allegations?