Is it because you don’t know what to say? I’d like to think so, but I am
sure that’s not the only reason why so many men have remained
silent when witnessing sexual harassment and sexual assault of
What about your daughter? Wife? Mother? Sister? Do you want to
tolerate and accept a culture where she (anyone of the shes in your
life) is treated with such disrespect and in some cases illegal
Silence equals acceptance, and in this society there has been too
much acceptance of sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape and
verbal abuse of women in many forms.
The Harvey Weinstein scandal has received much press and
exposure, and #MeToo shows you how wide spread this abuse of
women is accepted and tolerated.
People ask: Why didn’t she speak up? Why didn’t she say
something? Why didn’t the abused women come forward?
This blame the victim is troublesome. Let’s look at four reasons, and
there are plenty more, why women don’t speak up.
1. For one, the economic reasons are clear. When my boss, then
head of human resources, was harassing me in the ‘80’s I wanted to
speak up. I was new to corporate America and when I called people
in high places in other companies seeking advice, they all had the
same response. If you do report this abuse, you will kill your career
with the company and “never work in New York City again.”
Women fear for their jobs. Without money, you cannot survive.
2. Women experience shame, shame for being the victim of abuse.
“Was it my fault?” is a common reaction.
I say it’s the men, who for years have done nothing to change things,
whether you witnessed sexual harassment or sexual assault and/or
knew about it, should feel the shame. Not speaking out is a form of
collusion in this unacceptable and illegal behavior.
3. Women feel powerless.
Day after day, women face inconceivable challenges just for being a
woman. Very often when she speaks up for herself, she is considered
bitchy, aggressive, or not believed.
For the next few days, keep your eyes and ears open in the
workplace, on TV and at home to see the little and not so little
nuisances and abuse women face every day.
Consciously look for it. You will find it.
Talk to your female friends. Ask questions. Try to understand what
women go through.
4. Women are afraid no one will believe them.
There are so many cases where women have spoken up and weren’t
believed. If you want a glaring example, look at Anita Hill and how
she and her allegations against Clarence Thomas were handled!
Look at how young women are treated on college campuses when
they speak up. Perpetrators are often given a slap on the hand.
Thanks to Governor Cuomo, in NYS colleges must treat accusations
as reports of criminal acts, not discipline problems, and must report
them to police to handle.
Yes, women must speak up and speak out for themselves and they
do and they don’t. It’s not just up to the women to speak out. It’s up to
the men too.
You must take a stand and be courageous enough to go against the
Until men lend their voices to stop the abuses of women on all levels,
things will remain the same.
If you witness sexual harassment and are not sure what to say or do,
for a start, read the article in Esquire, “What to Do If You See a
Female Coworker Being Harassed.” which describes the following in
- Figure out what it looks like when a woman is uncomfortable.
- Interrupt and say “That’s gross.”
- Talk to the woman afterwards.
- Talk to the harasser afterwards.
- Don’t leave your female coworker alone with known creeps.
- Take notes.
- Talk to your manager.
- Go to HR.
- If nothing else works, leak it to the press.
Let me know your thoughts and recommendations. Let’s start a
Stand in your power and act fearlessly with heart and conviction.