Matt Lauer. Garrison Keillor. Harvey Weinstein.
A year ago, it would have been difficult to find a reason to tie these men together in one sentence other than men who are in the spotlight. Today, they are added to a growing list of men publicly accused of sexual harrassment in 2017. (The list includes 34 men at the time of this blog’s publication.)
Lauer, Weinstein, and the Growing Whirlwind of Sexual Harassment Accusations
Sexual harassment and indiscretion have become daily headlines. Almost every day I watch GOOD MORNING AMERICA or go through my Twitter feed only to come across a new yet all too recognizable name standing accused of misconduct.
The accusations started with those hurled at movie mogul Harvey Weinstein earlier this fall and the snowball effect has been absolutely mind-blowing.
Most of us live with a gamut of mixed emotions –
- Disgust at the alleged actions of the accused.
- Heartbreak at the pain and anguish of the victims.
- Respect for those brave enough to make their voices heard.
- Perhaps even sympathy based upon similar situations we have either witnessed or lived through ourselves.
I become disheartened to think of everything these individuals have potentially lost because of the immaturity of their actions. I am selfishly angry that I am most likely no longer going to have the opportunity to enjoy their performances, appreciate their films, respect their political accomplishments, or be enlightened by their news savvy.
It is indeed a sad time. The first crack in the dam has resulted in a tidal wave, and I feel fairly confident to state that this is probably just the tip of the iceberg.
More Questions Than Answers
While all of us feel sympathy for those who are victims of any type of sexual harrassment or abuse, the reality is that the steady stream of accusations raises questions and intense discussion.
- Why did the women wait so long to come forward?
- Is it possible the men stand wrongly accused?
- Should the accused be fired so quickly without further investigation?
- What constitutes sexual harassment in today’s world?
- If someone is falsely accused, what kind of stigma will he have for the rest of his life?
- Why have we not heard from men who have been sexually harassed by women?
- What happens to those whose livelihood depends on those who have been accused?
- Why do perpetrators only apologize after they get caught?
- Why are some accusations taken more seriously than others? (Why aren’t Trump’s accusations being investigated more?)
- Should society’s past allowance of what we now call harassment be subject to blame?
Admittedly, we as a society are extremely judgmental, and the reality is that there are those who take a certain amount of delight in watching the mighty collapse. Social media is an encourager of this, as the protection of people’s computer screens gives them the courage (or should I say the gall) to hurl insults, belittle, mock and slander anyone who dares share an opposing opinion or act in a manner with which we disagree.
Is Society’s Standard Changing?
I’m going to use Matt Lauer as an example here because his accusations are among the newest.
In 2012, his one-time co-anchor Katie Couric appeared on Bravo’s late night talk show WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE. When asked what Lauer’s most annoying habit was, she jokingly replied, “He pinches me on the a** a lot.” Couric’s answer was met with delighted laughter by the audience.
Cut ahead five years later, and we find the very actions that were once met with brevity now resulting in being fired and possible legal problems.
I’d bet the farm that Couric wouldn’t be making light of this in 2017.
I suppose as society changes, so too do customs, beliefs, and protocol. I shall never be able to fully comprehend the disgusting thought of segregation being common practice at one time. I still find it almost impossible to believe that women gained the right to vote only relatively recently in our history.
When it comes to conduct of this type between people, what was once permissible has now become unacceptable.
The tide has turned drastically, and most would say for the better.
A Modern Day Witch Hunt?
There is validity to the concern of men being falsly accused.
Has sexual harassment become the modern-day version of a witch hunt?
One in 4, or even up to 1 in 3 women are raped, approximately 25-33% of all women.
Further, it’s believed that only 3% of rapes are reported.
While false accusations do happen, they are statistically incredibly rare.
On the chance that a false rape accusation is investigated, statistics show that few lead to criminal charges. Further, those who hurl false rape accusations often have a history of significant mental illness.
Forgiveness and Change
While I’m obviously sad and angry about what these men have allegedly done, I can’t help but also be disgusted by the way many people have responded.
The phrase that bothers me the most is, “What they have done is unforgivable.”
I am a believer in rehabilitation and in the power of God to change our minds and hearts. The conversion of Saul to Paul should be proof of this.
If convicted, these men need to pay a price for what they’ve done. But, cynical as I may sometimes be, I can’t help but believer there is an opportunity for growth, maturity, introspection and ultimate change.
If we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg, what will the future hold?
This is a wake up call for many of us.
- How many times have we witnessed questionable behavior and kept silent?
- How have our words and actions affected those around us?
- Are we never to be forgiven and given a second chance for our own past missteps?
Let’s take this change of the tide as an opportunity to look into our own lives and make the necessary changes.
And, let’s each remember that the accused need our prayers just as much as the accusers.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Please share in the comments below.
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