The culture of violating women is over. The victims have spoken and society reacted with predictable hyperbole and public conviction. Not too long ago no one was willing to believe a woman's story of assault, lewd behavior, or plain old sexism. Now every report is seen as a reason to send them into exile. The guilty should be called out, but there is also a witch hunt going on. Accusation followed by ostracizing is not the way a civilized society learns.
What's disturbing and destructive in the wave of these outings is the atmosphere of fear and smoldering anger lingering over all involved. What's sorely missing is maturity before, during and after the fact. Juvenile behavior is met with equally immature reaction. A mere touch is enough to send people into a frenzy. Clarity and wisdom are impossible in the current atmosphere of panic and injustice.
Where is the true penance by society for it's tacit condoning of past criminal actions? Has anyone apologized to Sinead O'Conner for incinerating her career after she tore up a photo of the pope for his implication in the rape of children by priests? No, instead he was made a saint. Our current president openly boasted of grabbing women any way he wants but it's the guy he boasted to who got punished. A coach is caught raping a boy in the locker room shower and the witness is told to keep his mouth shut or he will lose his job- a sad reality to those who try to put a spotlight on our conflicts with sex, power and gender. Instead of healing the gaping wound these power games inflict, we put a band aid on it and walk away.
We have a poor memory when it comes to past injustice. Atonement, redemption and wisdom are also sadly missing. Will any real change come about after the hysteria dies down? If the past is any indication the answer is a weak but well meaning no.
" A world in which there is no sexual harassment at all is a world in which there will not be any flirtation." Garrison Keillor, 1994. There is a difference between harassment and flirtation but in the current hysteria we can't tell the difference because the boundary is not made clear for both sides.
We are wired differently, endless study has shown this and when men and women engage in the business world ,we are playing by different rules, we forget the differences in perception.
A man may see a crude joke in mixed company or an endearment followed a pat on the ass as innocent when it's actually intended to keep a women in a inferior position. Would a man behave that way toward his sister or aunt? Would he repeat that sexual joke in front of his mother? No, because he's not playing a power game or has a secret erection. Women tend to stay silent to avoid conflict and confrontation. This can be exploited by men as a kind of consent.
Women need to challenge men when they behave boorishly and men need to recognize the challenge as a sign they are doing something wrong-it's bad for business. These men weren't fired by women, they were fired by men. It is unrealistic for men and women to act more like the other but there has to be a middle ground where they can work together without this toxic behavior.