How to Combat Sexual Harassment: You Are the Answer

28
Oct

Do you feel more empowered to say “no” to someone sexually harassing you now that so many well-known women have shared their experiences with Harvey Weinstein? Do you think you are more likely to speak out against such behavior?

Maybe you’re not, and that’s okay. There are other ways you can be part of the movement against sexual harassment.

The discussion about sexual harassment and women’s power is happening today because of a handful of brave women who have stood up against Harvey Weinstein, Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Donald Trump, and other influential harassers. By coming forward, these women have started a cultural transformation that is continuing to gain steam every day.

Just like these trailblazers, you can be part of the change and contribute to protecting yourself and all women from sexual harassment.

How did we get here?

The current outcry over Harvey Weinstein’s awful behavior towards women is a prime example of the fascinating phenomena that Malcolm Gladwell described as “the tipping point” – when several changes, small or large, occur rapidly in one dramatic moment. The Tipping Point can cause changes so significant, in fact, that they can even cause cultural transformations in a society.

So, if change can come from even small actions, why didn’t Weinstein’s victims come out sooner?

For years, women have been too frightened to speak out. They fear never getting the promised gig or losing the job they already have if they make too big a deal about Weinstein’s behavior.

In this case and many others like it, part of the reason for silence may have been legal as well. Although federal protections for discrimination and harassment exist, the actresses accusing Weinstein often weren’t employees at his same company, so they weren’t protected by labor laws. Those who were employees usually had confidentiality clauses and non-disclosure agreements that prevented them from speaking out.

Many of these incidents could have been prevented if anyone involved in their cover-up had blown the whistle. But they may have been scared too.

Do women feel like they deserve to speak out?

Maybe the women ‘in the know’ about Weinstein’s behavior had a vague feeling that their voices didn’t matter. After all, our culture pressures women to be sexy and act sexually to gain respect instead of valuing our inner beauty and opinions. When no one looks past your appearance, you can confuse your value with your sex appeal. You can lose faith in yourself.

Do you feel like you deserve to speak up?

With societal standards for beauty at practically impossible heights, a whopping 90% of women aren’t happy with how they look. Without the self-confidence that comes from being clear that your value isn’t in your looks or sexiness, it is harder for women to take a public stand against sexual harassment. They don’t feel like they deserve to speak out and feel frightened that others will disapprove.

Ideally, every woman will feel that she deserves to speak out about injustice some day. The beginning of that sea change, that new revolution for women, is taking place before our very eyes. The better we get at standing up for ourselves, the better our society will be for all women. Finding your voice is power.

What can you do if you’re harassed?

If you’re harassed, your first consideration must be to protect yourself. As soon as you realize you’re in even a hint of trouble, get out as soon as possible. Take a look at this resource guide to get some ideas about how to respond in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation.

What can you learn from the accusations against Weinstein?

If it’s too hard for you to say, “I’m not comfortable with that” or “Please stop that,” you do have other options. You can blame your discomfort on someone else, suggesting you have a male protector: “My boyfriend/father doesn’t want me to be alone with a man in his hotel room.” He might be intimidated by the idea that another man is watching over you or at least focus his anger on someone that’s not you.

If you’re thinking, “Dr. Susan, I’m a modern woman and don’t need anyone to protect me!” that isn’t true. We all need all the support we can get. In fact, support is what can change the world.

You are the answer. We all are.

When women lack confidence the way so many do today, they need reassurance and support from others to speak out. Indeed, the key to combatting sexual harassment is people like you supporting others, even if you can’t yet stand up for yourself. Ultimately, we are all part of the answer.

The more people who say “no” to harassment and support the women who speak out, the more people who will be comfortable with such honesty and come to expect and respect it. We can’t forget that men are part of the solution as well. In fact, many men are outraged and have been speaking out against sexual harassment since the news about Harvey Weinstein broke.

You can change the world starting today by supporting and valuing yourself along with other women for their inner beauty and unique voices.

If you want to build your confidence in a big way, join the sisterhood of women working to be their own Brand of Sexy.

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