Are We Serious about Addressing Sexual Misconduct by Men in Power?

Business meeting between a man and a womanBill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Mark Halperin…. If you have been keeping up with the news the past 30 days, I don’t need to say anything more about the men I just named. But for the record, these are powerful men who have been accused of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault by multiple women.

Perhaps we are only beginning to realize how huge a problem we have in the area of sexual misconduct by men in power. That’s because increasingly more female victims now feel empowered or emboldened to talk about what happened to them.

We don’t know if all the accusers of these men are telling the truth. But based on the fallout we have recently seen, we can assume that many if not most of the allegations are true.

The legacy of Bill Cosby, the beloved TV dad, has been forever tarnished by ongoing court battles stemming from multiple allegations of drugging and raping women. The late Roger Ailes, Fox News Network’s powerful chairman and chief executive, resigned after multiple sexual harassment allegations against him. Fox News star host Bill O’Reilly was fired due to the alleged sexual allegations against him.  Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was fired from his own company after tens of women accused him of serious sexual misconduct ranging from requests for massages to rape.

What has recently befallen these powerful men strongly suggests that many of the allegations against them are true. The question is, are we serious as a nation about addressing serious sexual misconduct by men in power? Reportedly, Fox News and its parent company paid millions of dollars to settle claims of sexual harassment against Mr. O’Reilly. If true, such actions only perpetuate the problem.

Last year, the nation heard the audio clip of then-candidate Donald Trump vulgarly talking about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with other women. Also, like the other men mentioned above, multiple women had accused Mr. Trump of sexual misconduct.   As a nation, we dismissed it all and elected him as President of the United States. Even a large portion of the Christian community, including 80 percent of white evangelicals, gave its vote of approval to then-candidate Trump.

So are we really serious about addressing sexual misconduct by men in power? In light of the recent developments involving Cosby, O’Reilly, Weinstein, Halperin and others, some are asking why does the President of the United States get a pass when these men don’t. The truth is, he should not. That is, not if we want to send the right message to men in power about their sexual misbehavior.

Power and money don’t give those who have it the right or privilege to sexually harass or assault those of the opposite sex.

As to whether or not we will become serious about the problem remains to be seen. But the alleged sexual misbehavior of Harvey Weinstein is a watershed of sorts. It has ignited the #MeToo movement. It encourages women to share their own experiences of sexual assault and harassment against them. As this movement shines a light on sexual harassment and assault against women, stay tuned. More revelations of additional serious sexual misconduct by men in power may be forthcoming.

Copyright © 2017 by Frank King. All rights reserved.

[Thought: The effects of passiveness toward sexual harassment in the work place extend far beyond the work place.]