Are Men Being Silenced So Women Can Be Heard?

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Tarana Burke first used the phrase “me too” to highlight sexual harassment in the workplace, especially for women of colour, that was more than a decade ago, however, it was only this past year that the#MeToo movement really came to light. The sexual harassment and assault cases against US producer Harvey Weinstein catapulted a worldwide discussion about sexual misconduct in the workplace and with so many women coming forward, standing in solidarity with each other women finally had a platform to not only break their silence but also have their voices heard to the entire world. The fact that the #MeToo campaign wasn’t just about the experiences of Hollywood actresses but family, friends and colleagues made it all too real and much closer to home.

Recently, an article was posted in Bloomberg highlighting the drastic action men on Wall Street are taking to avoid women at all costs. Honestly, I can sympathise, after all, there have been some opportunistic women and men who have made false claims that could not be supported with clear evidence and unfortunately, similar claims are only likely to increase.

After US Vice President Mike Pence said that he avoids dining with women alone, other than his wife, of course, many are now calling the rules the Pence Effect.

So, let’s take a look at what the rules are:

  1. Don’t have one-on-one dinners with colleagues unless you’re on a business trip together.
  2. If you are on the road with a colleague and are having dinner together, do it in a well-lighted restaurant with attentive wait staff
  3. Don’t sit next to women on flights?
  4. Book hotel rooms on different floors?
  5. Avoid one-on-one meetings?
  6. Don’t have one-on-one meetings at your home
  7. Watch your alcohol consumption whenever you’re with co-workers
  8.  Don’t blame it all on women

Although these rules seem logical, are they realistic? Not having one-on-one meetings at home makes perfect sense as that is just asking for mischievousness and accusations, but avoiding one-on-one meetings, is that even possible? Instead of avoiding one-on-one meetings completely, meetings could be held in class door conference rooms, that way it stays confidential but others can see exactly what is happening.

It is no secret that Wall Street has always been male dominant, so perhaps it is completely understandable why they want to “avoid women and all costs”, but by trying to avoid sexual harassment cases, are they inadvertently pushing themselves into sexual discrimination cases? Booking hotel rooms on different floors, that is a bit dramatic. I am no expert, but I am pretty sure that most hotels have cameras in almost every corner of the hotel and even if there were to be any foul play in hotels, wouldn’t it happen inside a hotel room regardless of whether it is on the same floor or not?

I don’t think it is fair to automatically assume that just because a man is in a high position that he will exploit women, but it is sad to see men taking such drastic measures to protect themselves and their careers. On the other hand, we shouldn’t assume that all women would throw false sexual harassment allegations out there either and for those that do, should face harsh consequences.

Despite there being so much discussion regarding sexual harassment cases it still remains highly controversial and not everybody is willing to talk about it so openly. In today’s world, that seems perfectly understandable, nobody wants to offend or be misinterpreted whether in words or actions. Treading on eggshells is no solution either for both sides. Let’s face it, women aren’t going anywhere anytime soon so avoiding them isn’t the answer and it’s no long-term solution. The fear of hiring women because they may be an “unknown risk” seems ludacris, women shouldn’t be denied work opportunities based on fear but at the same time, men are struggling to cope.

The success of the #MeToo campaign has been phenomenal but it has also raised many questions that people are just not willing to answer or discuss yet and as a result, both men and women are being negatively effected in the workplace.

Featured image: Pexels

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