It seems the past few months have brought a reckoning for male, high-profile celebrities.
In early October, film mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual misconduct by several actresses in the film industry, and just last Wednesday, the “Today Show” host Matt Lauer was thrown under the same bus.
Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb opened the “Today Show” both last Wednesday and Thursday morning with disturbing news about their former colleague. Lauer was abruptly fired last week after an NBC employee accused him of sexual misconduct.
On Wednesday afternoon, several news sources published articles on Lauer reporting allegations from multiple women. These articles appear to have been in the works for weeks prior to Lauer’s firing.
Weinstein and Lauer are only two high-profile celebrities facing allegations. A few hours after the news of Lauer, Garrison Keillor, former Prairie Home Companion host was fired from Minnesota Public Radio after an accusation of inappropriate behavior. Also, Russell Simmons, a figure in the hip-hop industry, stepped down last Thursday from his companies after being accused of sexual assault.
However, Lauer received most of the spotlight last week. Show-business publication Variety published a detailed account of the allegations against Lauer, featuring three interviews with women who claimed they were victimized by him.
Variety reported several instances in Lauer’s career in which he acted inappropriately. The account revealed Lauer once gave a female colleague a sexual toy for a gift, invited female coworkers privately into his office to engage in sexual activities and even had a button under his desk to activate a locking mechanism on his office door without getting up.
It seems in the world we live in sexual misconduct is rampant, especially in the workplace. Our current president has even been accused of acting inappropriately toward several women prior to taking office.
Some people even have the gall to say if women stayed home, sexual misconduct would be extinguished. Yet, the sad reality for hundreds of women is this type of abuse happens everyday in ordinary places––the grocery store, a parking garage, the shopping mall, the sidewalk, their home––the suggestion to keep women at home is utterly ignorant and misogynist when sexual misconduct against women has been taking place for years.
In the 21st century, I would have never guessed this type of behavior would still be an issue in our society. Throughout history, hundreds of women have risen to take positions of authority, power and leadership, and those women have proven themselves worthy of such positions.
So why do male colleagues continue to degrade and abuse their female coworkers? Why do males continue to degrade and abuse their classmates, the stranger at the store and the helpless woman in a delicate situation?
I understand this percentage of males is incredibly small. I am so thankful for the male coworkers, colleagues and leaders in my life who exemplify strong character and encourage the females around them. This issue is not a gender issue.
I don’t have the answer to the “why” behind sexual misconduct. I could never wrap my mind behind the motives of someone who commits such an act.
But it needs to stop. This attitude of entitlement has cost victims their dignity, trust and peace of mind.
It’s 2017. Women are not objects. Women are not toys. Women should not be taken advantage of whether in the workplace, the store or their home.