Speak Up, Don't Suffer | Employee Rights Law Firm

Feb 11, 2019

The headlines are full of allegations of sexual harassment and assault against women in the workplace at the hands of big time producers, actors, music moguls and more. Why are women coming out with these allegations now when so many of them happened years ago, sometimes decades ago? Why are so many “jumping on the bandwagon,” as I have seen multiple social media and article comments ask?

To start, we know social climates change over time. At the time many of these actions took place, if a woman made a complaint, she was disregarded, shunned, referred to as “cold” or retaliated against. As more and more women have entered the workforce over the years, they have all shared in the common understanding of “just dealing with it.” We had to keep our heads down, have a thick skin, and stay quiet.

You never know what is going to tip the scale toward a social movement. Social media is a new tool that was not around when these prior acts were committed. It has become a powerful tool in giving victims a voice to a much larger audience. Women who have experienced harassment in the workplace are no longer relegated to trying to complain to the very men and powers that be that have quieted this sort of thing for decades. Social media ousts the private, dark corners of the parts of the workplace all women know are there, and have just endured. Social media reaches other women, and men who care about women, and casts a light on those who don’t.

Thus, when a few brave actresses took to social media and posted about the disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, it gave others that he victimized the courage to tell what he had done to them. The #MeToo movement started and it has not stopped.

So to answer the questions above, women are coming out in droves because they finally have a safe forum in which to tell what has happened to them. They still face judgment and backlash, by way of not being believed and ridiculed. But the truth is that only a very small percentage of women turn out to be lying about this type of thing. Yet like many other areas, the few bad apples mess it up for everyone else. Women are not “jumping on the bandwagon” for any other reason than they finally feel free to tell their story. Imagine being in their shoes. It is a scary, often humiliating process to put these kinds of intimate details out in the public. Remember that this is not just women. Corey Feldman was also silenced and disbelieved for many years. Terry Owens told his own story of being sexually harassed by a male in the industry, paving the way for men to eventually tell their stories.

The next time you wonder why a woman waited so long to tell her story, try to view it in the context of the times and social climate that existed back then. Look up the behavior of Dustin Hoffman during his early acting years. The treatment he subjected women assistants to was abhorrent. Yet employees on set were telling the victims to keep quiet if they wanted to keep their job. Times are changing.

David Schwimmer, known from the hit show “Friends,” has paired up with filmmaker Sigal Avin to create several short videos depicting reenactments of real life incidents of sexual harassment. While everyone is talking about sex harassment, Schwimmer and Avin believe it is more powerful to see depictions of it. The hope is to make a strong impact that results in education and avoidance in the future. Click on the video below for their video entitled, “The Boss.” If you feel you have experienced some type of sexual harassment or assault in the workplace, call us and we can guide you through it.

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