Americans people are now replacing “the alleged victim” with “we believe the woman.” Thanks to the two female journalists, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of New York Times who credibly brought out the stories of women whom Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted.
What once was considered boys being boys, is no longer ignored by corporate boards, management, and business owners. The response has changed. Companies are no longer hesitant to toss out their firepower.
The millennial generation has shed light on the presence of sexually predatory men in the workforce. They are shaking what could not be shaken before.
It is clear that the women who have come forward are neither looking for pity nor revenge — they want to advance the ball. At the time of the harassment or the assaults, many of these women did tell their female friends what had happened.
From school-age, girls’ whispers spread like wild-fire and everyone knows the “creeps”. They know when a hug has a sexual undercurrent. Their mothers may not always teach them that, but they learn quickly and become their own body guards.
Sexual assault can be a disease, a problem of male libido or a social malaise. I would argue that it has been caused by — the extreme gender imbalance in our society; who has power over who — and due to ineffective laws to catch and punish the offenders.
Men dominate most areas of prominence, be it — legislature, judiciary, religion, corporations, entertainment, education, or sports. Sexual harassment is rampant in all of these arenas. Men’s stronghold tends to be due to their — financial, physical or societal stature.
Lack of gender-parity is the root cause of sexual harassment.
The imbalance comes from the fact that girls, typically, are not raised to be aspirational, to have successful careers and be financially independent. Consequently women also miss out on the exhilarating experience of working on difficult math problems, building business or how to climb the ladder to become an anchor women or an actress.
Creative juices flow when failures bring you down, and then success suddenly kisses your feet, and dreams come alive. My happiness in life has largely come from learning and improving myself. The harder the challenges, the more is the improvement. I hope that our daughters are also raised to be goals and aspirations driven.
The balance of power can work in both directions — males or females. The study of Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities reveals — of 1,390 total victimized youth, 92% were males — and 89% males reported sexual victimization by female staff. The staff was 44% female.
Culturally things are changing for the better — men are demanding paternity leave to experience fatherhood — intellectual women like Oprah Winfrey are now formidable power. With gender parity, society will progress and family unit is likely to become stronger.
It is also the moment to celebrate women like Ashley Judd, who moved ahead despite sexual harassment by Weinstein. She is a source of inspiration for — being brave — and refusing to succumb to self-pity. She was pragmatic in her approach — evaded the advances to some extent — did not waste her breath when nobody would believe — did not fight the battle that she could not win — and ended up becoming a successful actress.
If Matt Lauer, the NBC host of The Today Show, could grant himself the power to remotely lock his office-doors — pin down his woman subordinate — force himself on her — and if the woman found it hard to seek justice, then something is clearly wrong with the system. Our system fails when sexual assaults take place behind closed doors, and the process to prove it in the courts — is too messy to prosecute the offender.
Our laws are inadequate and created by mankind and not womankind!
How do legislatures that are highly male dominated know what women experience and what laws would best serve them? 250 years back, US constitution granted every state, irrespective of size, two senate seats, to have equitably representation — but the same constitution started out originally denying women the right to vote, own property, keep their own wages, or even have custody of their children.
Since then, the women’s suffrage movement, which took nearly 100 years of struggle, passed in 1920 when women went to the voting booths for the first time. While Equal Right Amendment (ERA) bill has still not passed, after 90 years of debate. Both movements were led and debated by women passionate and wanting to make a difference.
We need equal representation of women in legislature and judiciary to best serve our women, and society at large. The legislative process is time consuming and unless we have enough women in the Congress, thinking of women, the progress will likely be slow.
On the other hand, Ms. Kantor and Ms. Twohey have set a new standard through their investigative journalism on the issue of sexual harassment. They have broken the code that justice system could not. And the women who are now willing to tell their stories of sexual exploitation, however late, to pave the way for their daughters and grand daughters, will make ‘the change’ imminent.