(Photo by Lindsay O’Neil)
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS CONTENT FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY
Why Time’s Up For Sexual Misconduct
By Sarah Komisky
If you’re female, you’ve felt it. The frustration of being the brunt of cheap remarks and lust. The anger of being disregarded and talked down to. The shame of being used. The fear of being threatened. According to a Cosmopolitan survey, 1 in 3 women ages 18 to 34 have been sexually harassed at work and that means the majority of us are apart of the statistic. Yet what makes it even more alarming is that 71% of those women surveyed all said they remained silent and did not report issues of sexual misconduct. That also means that too many women are being robbed of a voice.
Hearing the recounts of harassment, exploitation, and abuse in the media has been enough to make my heart break but hearing the women in my circle share their experience with this epidemic was also enough to compel me to do something.
But it was also my own experience as apart of the statistic that has made me want to stand up against this injustice. As a teenager, I was a victim of sexual misconduct by my older teacher who called me “ hey mama” and made an inappropriate comment about my body when I went to him for help on an assignment. When I sought help, I was silenced by school authorities and sent back to class. As an adult female in a male-dominated field, I’ve experienced my own misconduct on the job. I have not been taken seriously when it came to my abilities as a writer, been patronized for being young and female, sexually harassed when it’s come to my looks, and called degrading names like, “sweetheart,” and “girl” by men I barely knew yet were in authority positions.
Like you, I’m angry. No, I’m outraged. Outraged that men think this is alright. Outraged that it’s allowed. Outraged that there is no consequence for it while women are left without jobs and also with the scars something that last for years or even a lifetime. In essence, I’m outraged that this atrocity exists.
Everyday women go to the workplace to provide, fulfill a career goal or a dream and in exchange are subjected to being degraded and abused all because they are female. I recently watched a Time YouTube video on women who experienced this misconduct. These women were hotel coordinators, dishwaters, journalists, engineers, actors, writers, professors, news anchors, senators, entrepreneurs, and lobbyist’s who felt manipulated, conned, and were told the misconduct was their fault. Many also felt powerless. In turn, in a letter of solitary from the Time’s Up Movement, approximately 700,000 women who worked in agricultural fields and packing sheds across the U.S. came forward to speak out against gender based violence in the workplace. They found courage from various actors, models, and others who came forward to speak on their experiences from their bosses, coworkers, and powerful people in the entertainment industry.
In the letter, these women said, “We do not work under bright stage lights or on the big screen. We work in the shadows of society in isolated fields and packinghouses that are out of sight and out of mind for most people in this country. Your job feeds souls, fills hearts and spreads joy. Our job nourishes the nation with the fruits, vegetables and other crops that we plant, pick and pack. Even though we work in very different environments, we share a common experience of being preyed upon by individuals who have the power to hire, fire, blacklist and otherwise threaten our economic, physical and emotional security.”
It’s horrific and sickening to think about and if that isn’t enough to call you to action then check out some of these facts:
Nearly half of working women in the U.S. say they have experienced harassment in the workplace.
Sexual harassment is pervasive across industries, but especially in low-wage service jobs. For example, more than 25% of sexual harassment charges filed with the EEOC in the last decade came from industries with service-sector workers.
Research has shown that women in male-dominated occupations, especially those in male-dominated work contexts, are sexually harassed more than women in balanced or in female-dominated ones.
Source: Berdahl, JL. (2007). The Sexual Harassment of Uppity Women (p. 427).
Nearly 50% of men think women are well-represented in leadership in companies where only one in ten senior leaders is a woman.
White non-Hispanic women are paid 81 cents on the dollar compared to white non-Hispanic men. Asian women are only paid 88 cents on the dollar. Black and Hispanic women are only paid 65 cents and 59 cents on the white male dollar, respectively.
Approximately one third of women think women are well-represented when they see one-in-ten in leadership positions.
More than one-third of the world’s countries do not have any laws prohibiting sexual harassment at work—leaving nearly 235 million working women vulnerable in the workplace.
So where do we go from here when this is happening to our friends, sisters, daughters, and mothers? The first step is to bring awareness. When I’ve shared about this issue with women in my life, it sadly becomes a casual, “oh, yeah, me too” type of thing. It shouldn’t be. Let’s stop the tolerance and break the silence now. Here are some tips as adapted from the Time’s Up, Know Your Rights PDF on how to do so.
- Resolve to Say No
It’s never “OK” to submit to offensive conduct as apart of the job. You are worth more and have extreme value. Do not tolerate injustice.
- Know the Signs
Sexual misconduct in any form is never OK. Locker room conversation isn’t OK. Touching inappropriately is not OK. Submitting to offensive conduct in any form is not OK. Being in a threatening, manipulating, or demeaning situation is also not OK. Know the signs so you can counteract it.
- Get Out:
It’s never too late to leave. Unwelcome verbal, physical, emotional, or visual conduct that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work environment is guaranteed to impend your work performance. Resolve to get out as soon as possible.
- Get Safe
Speak to a person in command (i.e. human resources, supervisor, management, pastor, principal, parents, etc.). Do not put yourselves in harm’s way. So, choose wisely how to address the situation. Never be alone in confronting your perpetrator, talk to someone who is safe to find a solution. Take someone with you. You might have to change your number or your e-mail. Remember, you’re safety is key.
- Get Help
Seek healing for your wounds. Most victims of this misconduct are left with confusion, hurt, shame, guilt, anxiety, and anger. You need to know it’s not your fault. Talk to someone you trust and receive good, wise counsel. Since every case is different, every path of healing is different. You might need medical help to overcome deep hurts. Biblical counseling is a great option to get God’s perspective on your hurts and find the healing you need. Overall, the Word of God, prayer, good Bible teaching, journaling, etc. are also going to be your lifelines. Ultimately, seek Jesus on what path He wants you to take and invite those you trust in the process. His desire is for you to heal and be whole; so invite Him into your pain and begin to be restored.
- Resolve to Be Apart of the Solution, Not the Problem
Stop the silence. We believe the time is up when it comes to staying quiet. Be an advocate. Be a friend. Be a listening ear if God calls you to. It’s time to stand up for what’s right. If you are a guy reading this, it’s your time to change the “norm.” Stand up for us. Be our protector. Determine to not join in conversations that would hurt us and treat us with respect. You have the opportunity to bring so much good. We have faith in you. Change starts with us, but it also starts with you.