Opinion

Making a Bad Situation Worse

Editorial

There have been many types of fallout, if that’s even the right word, from the Harvey Weinstein saga and the wave of accusations against men in power (or formerly in power, as is usually the case) since then.

Some of them are quite positive — women becoming more willing to come forward when they believe they have been harassed, no matter who might be doing the harassing, for example.

But some of the emerging developments have been less … let’s use the word ‘progressive.’ And one of them is quite disturbing.

This would be the extreme forms of reaction from men now intent, upon looking in the mirror, on doing the proverbial right thing. Or, to be more accurate, we believe, not doing the wrong thing.

And in many respects, who can blame them? Almost daily now, the media reports of someone else, and sometimes more than one individual, being accused of inappropriate behavior. The list is long and packed with notable names: Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Roy Moore, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K. … on it goes.

Who wants to join that list and have their career end in a New York minute or Hollywood moment? No one, obviously.

So now, men are doing that looking-in-the-mirror thing. But they’re doing more than that. They’re talking amongst themselves (not to women, which is what they should be doing, if they really need to talk to anyone at all) about what is appropriate and what isn’t.

They’re also discussing and floating ways to stay out of trouble. One business owner has even suggested canceling the office’s holiday party until it has been figured out how men and women should interact.

Seriously? Men need to figure out how they should interact with women?

In some ways, women are now being punished for the sins of all those harassers out there. They’re being looked upon not as valued team members, but as potential lawsuits waiting to happen — complaints begging to be filed if someone says the wrong thing or does the wrong thing.

This will only have terrible repercussions for women in business. They will be left out of discussions; treated differently in an effort to treat them better, or fairly; left home on business trips; and deprived of access to professional relationships that might help further their careers.

But it doesn’t need to be that way. Men don’t require tutorials on how to treat women; they know. It’s just become fashionable now, it seems, to say that no one really knows how to behave around women, because that’s an easy answer.

There is no need to cancel the office Christmas party or have men become afraid to be seen in the company of women other than their wives — the so-called ‘Pence Rule.’ All that’s needed is a little common sense and a lot of common decency.

Above all, we don’t need an environment in which women should have to pay a price for all the bad behavior that has gone on, and continues to go on, in workplaces across the country and in every sector.

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