And the beat goes on. This morning’s celebrity, outed and fired for sexual assault, is Matt Lauer. The former co-host of NBC’s “Today” show lost his job due to “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a co-worker that may not have been an isolated incident.
My husband attempted to have a conversation we me this morning about this very recent development in which men actually take women’s accusations seriously and act on them. It did not go well. The gap between us comes, as you might expect, from our different life experiences. He asked whether, had I not worked, would I have experienced harassment.
The Lengthy Answer
The fact that my husband could even ask this question indicates the size of the gap. He has been married to a strong professional woman for many years. How could he not know this?
I experienced the harassment of girls in high school, where it was ignored by teachers and administrators alike. But I settled on a few egregious cases in response:
- The college wrestler who threw me over his shoulder at a frat party and carried me up to his room. My roommate saved me by distracting him while I slipped out the door. (He was really drunk.)
- The co-workers on my college co-op job who had a pool going on who would seduce me successfully. (They all lost.)
- The two times I have been stalked—once in my hometown and once in Manhattan.
- The constant street harassment, whistles and catcalls wherever I went in New York City.
- The co-workers who called me sweetie, girlie, honey, darlin’ and other names meant to keep me in my place.
My husband thinks all these prominent firings after charges of sexual assault are “extra judicial” and the man deserves to confront his accuser(s) in court. To which I responded, “How long has the Cosby case been going on?” (Since 2014)
In the corporate world, if you violate the terms of your contract with a company, you can and should be fired. That applies only when you have a contract, of course, and I assume people like Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and Bill O’Reilly did. Most employees can be fired at will, for any cause or no cause at all.
Men need to start asking themselves whether grabbing a butt, squeezing a breast, making lewd comments, demanding a blow job, or raping a co-worker is worth their job, their career, their reputation, or even their freedom.
Questions and Answers About Sexual Assault
- What constitutes sexual harassment/assault
- How to behave professionally in the work environment
- Whether women enjoy being catcalled on the street
- Why women don’t speak up as soon as it happens
- What you did or said that was wrong
Here’s a recap of the 11 posts I have written on this issue in the last five years.
Celebrity Cases and Causes
- Sex, Lies, Social Media and the Fox News Dirty Duo
It’s time we began slut-shaming the men who prey on women.
- Al Franken and Male Behavior
Male norms are not the same as human norms. Women are different. Get over it.
- Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Did They Come for You?
How easily perpetrators turn themselves into victims when they get caught.
How to Avoid Being Accused
- 10 Rules for Avoiding Sexual Harassment
Want to make sure you stay safe and protect yourself on the job? Here’s how.
Offenders on the Job
- Sexual Harassment’s Great Wall of Silence
The men always know but they do nothing and say nothing to present a united male front
- Sexual Harassment: Here We Go Again
In which you find three potential fixes for sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.
- Sexual Assault: Why Don’t the Women Speak Up?
This question puzzles men but only because most don’t encounter harassment and assault directly. Here are the answers.
- The Persistence of Sexism
Three parts of our culture in which sexism persists and opportunities to fix it.
- Good Ol’ Boy Culture is Alive and Well in High Tech
Three events that demonstrate we haven’t come as far as we need to.
- Lean In Together: Men Have to Act
Three things that need to change if we’re going to solve the problem of discrimination in the workplace.
Offenders on the Street
- Don’t Be That Guy, Please
Why men harass women on the street and why we don’t like it.
- Why Street Harassment Is Dangerous
You may think it’s a compliment but we hear a threat. Here’s why.
How to Clean Up Your Act
If you suspect you have been skirting the edge of acceptable behavior on the job or on the street, clean up your act. If you worry about how to behave professionally just stick to my 10 Rules and you’ll be fine. If you’re still confused, just remember these 10 simple points
- Women don’t belong to you.
- Women other than your wife need not provide you with sexual gratification.
- You have no right to touch a woman’s body in any way or any place without her permission.
- Women do not want to see your penis, either in a photograph or up close and personal. Ick.
- Bathrobes do not constitute business casual dress.
- Hotel rooms are not business settings.
- If you enjoy forcing yourself on a woman who doesn’t want you, you are a sick puppy.
- Women do not like or want catcalls, whistles, or other vocalizations in any setting. This is not cool; it’s disgusting.
- Women do not want to know about your fantasies or what you fantasize about doing to us. Keep it to yourself.
- What you may think of as sexy, titillating or “hyper-masculine” behavior reminds us of the eighth-grade boys table in the middle-school cafeteria. Grow up, already.