Social media has been filled with posts that say “Me, too,” over the past week or so. That two word message alludes to the fact that the poster had been a victim of sexual harassment.
The ‘Me, too’ campaign started after it was revealed that a Hollywood producer had paid out huge sums of money to a number of his accusers. That producer has since lost his company and has been kicked out of some organizations including the one that passes out the Academy Awards.
It is good there is a ‘Me, too’ campaign; it brings the issue to the forefront of the news. It does not necessarily bring it to the forefront of the collective consciousness. There are people who will harass regardless of public norms. Harassment is, and always has been, a matter of power and control, not about sex.
No one asks to be a victim of this behavior. No one invites inappropriate comments and physical touch. And certainly, no one is eager to have their career in the hands of a boss who uses their position to maintain control.
Harassment has been part of the human condition forever. If you don’t put out, you’re put out. How does society stem the tide of this type of harassment?
As all things, it needs to start at the beginning. We teach our children the golden rule—do unto others as you wish them to do unto you. We don’t want our child to be a bully. There are so many positive messages that need to be instilled at an early age (one need look no further than Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, which is as relevant today as the day it was written in 1986. The messages in that books are a great place to start for teaching kids about how to behave and share.
We all know that there are people who are not susceptible to positive messages—harassers come from somewhere. Bad behavior is the reflection of what a person has seen or endured. If a child sees an adult belittle and harass another person and there is no consequence, the message is received: I can control with this type of behavior.
The antidote is in the telling. No one should let themselves be a victim of harassment. The notion that a victim doesn’t tell because they feel no one will believe them is wrong. Victims of harassment should tell everyone, all the time, about what has happened.
Truth is the greatest disinfectant. A perpetrator will have few places to hide and lurk if it is publicly known who and what they are. No job and no career is worth putting up with belittling and soul-crushing harassment. Go on, tell the world “Me, too” and let’s start ending harassment now.