The State of Sexual Harassment and Assault After #metoo

sexual harassment and assault

The Harvey Weinstein allegations have sparked a national conversation about sexual assault and harassment in America. With this conversation has come a whole slew of additional allegations against other Hollywood and Washington elites. While it’s horrifying to think about the utter amount of women and men who have been affected by sexual harassment and assault, we may just be moving in the right direction to effectively create change.

In October when these allegations first surfaced, an extremely important movement began- the #metoo campaign. The #metoo campaign may have seemed ineffective to some, but it has given survivors of sexual harassment and assault a public forum to share their experiences. This past week, CNN held a townhall discussing what happens after #metoo.

Remove the Shame

One of the best ways to enact long lasting, positive change is lifting the secrecy that silences survivors, according to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand . As we learn more about the women in Hollywood that were assaulted by Weinstein, we are also learning about the disgusting things he did to silence them. The sheer magnitude of responses to the #metoo campaign has put America on notice. The month of November has brought an incredible increase in accountability. The pressure is on.

Unfortunately, women face a lot of shame when it comes to speaking out in regards to sexual assault and harassment. Moving forward from this campaign it is vital that we lift this shame from survivors. At the end of the day the perpetrator should feel ashamed, not the victim.

Educate Men on their Role in Ending Sexual Harassment and Assault

Women in America are tired of the complicity regarding sexual assault and harassment. In order for society to make positive change, men must be involved and stand as allies to women.

Many women don’t report their abuse or share their experiences because they are afraid they won’t be believed. Men should feel empowered to reach out to women sharing their stories and let them know they are heard. This simple act of caring can make an important difference.

Men also need to take a look in the mirror and ask themselves “have I been complicit?”. Many of us have witnessed other men simply ignore instances sexual harassment and assault. It needs to be understood that unless you are doing something to be a part of the change, you are a part of the problem.

The Reporting Process

Forced arbitration clauses prevent employees from taking disputes or grievances to a court of law. Instead, the employee must submit them to a private arbitration forum where they will be heard and an outcome decided. By signing this clause, employees also waive the right to sue the company or participate in a class action lawsuit. This means that if a woman is being sexually harassed at work AND has an arbitration clause in her contract, she does not have the right to sue in open court forcing her into silence.

Gretchen Carlson, who filed the sxual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News at the time, has teamed up with several Democratic senators to introduce the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2017. This bill prohibits a predispute arbitration agreement from being valid or enforceable if it requires arbitration of an employment, consumer, antitrust or civil rights dispute. The passing of this bill will give women back their voices.

Carlson is also actively working to reform the reporting process on Capitol Hill that currently requires staffers to attend 30 days of counseling before they are able to make a sexual harassment complaint. It is time we lift the secrecy silencing sexual harassment and assault survivors. Victims should no longer fear they will lose their job or be scorned if they report their experiences.