Why have women waited so long to tell their stories of sexual harassment, discrimination, pedophilia, abuse, and discrimination? How do we as individuals and as a nation process this tidal wave of #MeToo information as people come forward? I’ve hesitated to tell my stories of sexual harassment because I’ve never been able to comprehend and digest them. The first time I experienced my feminine vulnerability, I was only four years old. I was playing outside in the garden of our home in Bermuda, when a teen-age neighbor squatted down next to me as I was playing with my favorite marbles in the garden. Smiling at me, he reached under my skirt and stroked my privates through my underpants. Before he walked away, he made me promise not to tell my father, silencing me.
Mauricio Velasquez, CEO of Diversity Training Group DTG, speaks with Deborah Levine, Editor-in-Chief of the American Diversity Report, about his training, consulting, and coaching on sexual harassment. DTG’s serves a broad range of clients including small and large organizations, not-for-profit, professional service firms, local, state and federal governments, law enforcement, and the military.
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The “ho hum,” been there/done that remedies for stopping sexual harassment have been sitting in seldom-read policy manuals and preached about in awareness workshops for decades. And yet harassment still raises its ugly head in organizations large and small, public and private. There’s no better validation than the recent “me too” movement and outed perpetrators who have seen their personal lives and careers go up in smoke.
So, what effective personal strategies should potential targets of harassment consider? How do they ward it off in the first place, or respond to it in the moment?
Let’s face it men: more of us need to “man-up” by proactively helping to end the scourge of sexual harassment. We must collectively stop being the main cause of the problem and start being part of the solution.
This means standing up and speaking out to support women. This also means swiftly shaming and punishing male perpetrators for their despicable deeds.
Many years ago I authored an article entitled “Gender Quake” and it was all about the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings – the first time sexual harassment and gender equity issues entered our living rooms (through TV) and never left. Before these hearings – these issues did not garner attention or coverage, they did not make the newspaper or even local news – not even a blip or a mention. The current political climate and our President is a major contributing factor – a backdrop for this conversation. Now, national, international news and hours of coverage (educating public) on the nightly news and cable is the norm, our new normal.