Cynthia M. Allen: Attitudes toward Sex Empower Male Abusers
By Cynthia M. Allen
December 10, 2017
We are on the verge of some significant cultural change — at least we should be — if we are to effectively confront the deluge of sexual harassment and assault scandals that have swept up dozens of prominent men in news media, government and business.
In some ways, what’s happening is good.
By coming forward, women are unearthing systemic sexism that has permeated some workplaces for years, and many employers are responding appropriately, albeit belatedly.
And it is the first time in decades where there seems to be a growing consensus across the political spectrum that our past acceptance of such transgressions was flawed, and we now need to draw bright lines when it comes to sexual behavior.
While the actions of the accused covers a broad spectrum of behavior — rape is a far more serious crime than sending a lewd photo — the fact that many Democrats and Republicans are calling for the heads of their own no matter the degree of the crime, is a positive development.
In the weeks and months to come, more stories and accusers will surface, and prescriptions for “fixing” things — mandatory harassment training and better support for women — will be implemented. There also should be agreement on moral standards of conduct for people in high-profile jobs in the public and private sectors.
But these remedies will be Band-Aids only if we fail to understand how we came to a place and time where a man dropping his pants at the office could go unchecked for so long.
How did we get here?