Commentary

Harassment Bloodletting is Long Overdue

November 22, 2017

By Arturo Castañares / Publisher and CEO

Over the past month, several prominent public figures and media personalities have fallen from grace for their past harassment of women, including some of the most powerful men in Hollywood.

Just this week, legendary news anchor Charlie Rose was fired from his CBS morning show post and from his award-winning PBS show after eight women came forward with stories
of Rose’s unwanted advances and inappropriate behavior.

As with Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Steven Seagal, and other celebrities accused of harassment, Charlie Rose allegedly aggressively forced women into uncomfortable and compromising situations.
As with the other aggressors, most of the victims were afraid of confronting them for fear of retaliation by these powerful men in their respective industries. And like Rose, they have all now lost their jobs and probably their careers.

The harassment, however, wasn’t limited to Hollywood and the media.

Former President George H.W. Bush, US Senator Al Franken, and Congressman John Conyers have also been accused of a variety of inappropriate harassment. Some of the victims have recounted stories from years ago, but some are as recent as last year. Almost overnight, these political careers are at risk of ruin.

And closer to home, a Congresswoman this week accused former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of pinning her against an elevator wall in the US Capitol when he was also a Congressman. Filner, of course, resigned his position as Mayor in 2013 after several women complained of his aggressive harassment, coining it the “Filner headlock.”

The public outing of these predators that abused their positions of power to harass and victimize women is an important step toward reaching true equality in the workplace. Women have, for too long, been forced to endure, not only physical abuse, but also psychological harm at work in the form of jokes, innuendoes, and intimidation.

Men like Filner and Rose used their power against women, knowing their stature in society would make the women either too afraid complain, or worse, too ashamed to admit it.

For many years, this was so common in the workplace that powerful men took it for granted. They knew they had an unspoken license to pursue, harass, and even physically touch women at will.
One of those famous men was even caught on tape bragging about it.

This 60-something year-old man was recorded in his own words, bragging how he is drawn to attractive women and sometimes just starts kissing them, claiming that as a star he could get away with it. His most famous line was that he could grab them anywhere, even in their most private places, to put it nicely.

After the recording was released, dozens of women came forward with similar stories of unwanted contact, forced kisses, and groping. The perpetrator denied the allegations, and dismissing his recorded comments as just “locker room talk.”

Did that man lose his job, or leave his career in disgrace? No.

He was elected President of the United States.

For some reason, the allegations against Donald Trump didn’t seem to tarnish his reputation. His supporters brushed off the accusations was a media bias against him, fake news, or political correctness run a muck. Trump threatened to sue every one of his accusers and the newspapers that reported the stories, but no lawsuits were ever filed.

Trump has denied all the allegations, and even tried to defend against them by saying the women accusing him are not his type, adding insult to injury by criticizing the women as too unattractive to be victimized.

In the past two weeks, as Republican candidate Roy Moore has weathered his storm of allegations that he pursued relationships with and molested girls as young as 14 when he was in his 30s, the Republican Party has rightfully cut funding for his US Senate campaign and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for Moore to drop out of the race.

But, what did Trump, the Harasser-in-Chief do?

This week, when asked by a reporter if a child molester would be better than a Democrat in the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, Trump simply said Moore denied the allegations. Trump defended Moore by saying that the allegations are from 40 years ago and they are only now coming out, insinuating that time makes them less credible.

That’s exactly the point of this current campaign against harassment.

The fact that women were intimidated, threatened, and/or ashamed to confront powerful men at the time of the harassment is exactly why they got away with it for so long.

Roy Moore was the District Attorney when he was first preying on the young girls, then he went on to serve as a Circuit Judge, then on the Alabama Supreme Court.

Donald Trump was a billionaire businessman and TV celebrity.

Charlie Rose was a powerful media personality.

They overpowered their victims, both literally and figuratively.

Women are incredibly strong for coming forward with their stories, no matter when they occured. It can’t be easy, even years later. For many, the abuse changed them forever.

Their stories should be taken seriously if we are ever going to change the way women are treated in the workplace, in school, and at home.

And the change needs to start at the top.

Donald Trump should acknowledge and accept his predatory behavior, so that we can begin the collective healing process, and send the message that the abuse must stop.

Women should know that they can and must confront their harassers, and that society will support them, not dismiss them. This painful process will surely have positive long-term effects on our society.

During this Thanksgiving weekend, we should be thankful our country continues to strive to become a more perfect union.

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