On a recent trip home I was talking with my brother about politics and current events when he brought up the “guy from NBC who got fired.” Of course he was referring to Matt Lauer, co-host of NBC’s “Today,” who was fired Nov. 29 after allegations of sexual harassment were reported in several news outlets.
“It’s pretty crazy, right?” my brother continued.
Unfortunately, it’s not that crazy. As more and more investigations reveal high-level individuals accused of sexual assault and harassment, it continues to become less and less crazy. And many women are honestly not surprised. Matt Lauer admitted the accusations have truth and is one of numerous men who has made women feel uncomfortable, made an unwarranted and inappropriate gesture, sexually harassed or sexually assaulted someone.
These men span industries as well, be it the entertainment, sports or your favorite local restaurant. It is disappointing, but it does not surprise me that men in news organizations are also being accused of lewd behavior. Over 1.7 million women and men spoke of the sexual harassment and assault they’ve experienced on Twitter through #MeToo, CNN reported, so how could it be surprising?
How can it be surprising, when women are followed and shouted at while walking down the street? How can it be surprising when many men I consider friends and family have made inappropriate advances and comments toward me? How can it be surprising when convicted rapists with no remorse spend a mere three months in jail?
If we learn one thing from the #MeToo movement, it’s that cases like Matt Lauer are not surprising, and that is most telling of all.
It might not be all men, but it’s enough of them.
There’s no denying this is a deep, societal and systemic problem. How many must bare their souls on the internet before changes are made? How many more women and men must undergo mental stress reliving traumatic experiences before they are believed, and excuses are no longer made?
Each individual who steps forward to share their trauma is a testament to the strength it takes to do so. Each individual accused is a reminder this problem is a mountain.
I think it’s important we recognize the depth of the problem before we can begin to solve it. There wouldn’t be 1.7 million people on Twitter able to voice harassment they’ve experienced if poor sexual practices weren’t being perpetuated by many of the people we know and love.
#MeToo was a step toward having open and frank discussions about harassment and ill practices, particularly in the workplace. It’s important everyone continue these conversations when they see inappropriate behavior.
It might not be all men (or women), but the tides need to change so it’s even less of them.