(Today Show Conversation Area)
OK, guys, LISTEN UP! There is no delicate way to put this: your co-workers are not impressed, indeed, mostly grossed out and feeling harassed to the core if you choose to display any body part at work that’s not normally fully clothed. Get my drift? Sorry to have to bring this up, but seriously, THE LIST has grown so long I can’t even recite it any more. But I just read the Matt Lauer story in Vanity Fair, and UGH! And then late today there’s Garrison Keillor, and last week Charlie Rose, and etc. etc. etc. etc……. And, guys? The women do not want you leering, patting, groping, grabbing, or otherwise touching, or texting or emailing or whispering about same…. Period! Ok, so maybe you’re in a relationship —- fine, it just better not be with someone at work over whom you have a good deal of power. Good lord, it’s 2017, why do we even have to say these things? And why are men in power still thinking they can get a pass because they are … famous, powerful, rich…. not necessarily good looking, mind you, but famous, powerful rich… I think that covers the spectrum.
Geez. The news has been bad enough these days without these daily… HOURLY… revelations about sexual misconduct that make us want to flee to the showers as each story grows more tawdry and just gross. And all of this really bad behavior is distracting everyone from some very important news — like a tax plan that’s rolling through Congress with some potentially devastating consequences for many people; and the fact that DACA remains unresolved and the potential for a nasty confrontation and December government shutdown looms; and President Trump unable to control his undisciplined impulses, tweeting out unprofessional, harmful and even dangerous material that insults allies around the world and inflames passions; and North Korea’s ongoing game of daring the United States to do something rash involving a potential war and even nuclear weapons.
Look, like many women in business I know that the gross examples of sexual misconduct do not apply to every male co-worker, and I also know that women can also engage in sexual harassment on occasion. But the tsunami of revelations in the last few weeks is stunning, and all about men abusing power relationships in the workplace. And some of those men are in very high places, and some of them act like it’s no big deal, you know, “locker room talk,” unless, of course, the perp is a guy on the other side politically and then they make jokes about him on Twitter.
Men who know this is going on need to put a stop to what their peers are doing. Women need to have a ZERO TOLERANCE approach to workplace harassment and those women in positions of power need to support their sisters who feel more vulnerable; we all need to confront the men who are perpetrating these awful situations. Nobody should claim to be “shocked,” rather, we should say aloud what too often is a whisper on the rumor mill.
And, by the way, the men who are “caught” should own up to their misconduct and resign their positions. Yes, resign. And this means you, too, Congressman Conyers. And other members of Congress who have harassed their staff members or engaged in sexual misconduct. The only way we are going to be able to restore some sense of order and plain old common decency is to insist on consequences. And that includes people in every single position of trust and power — even the highest office in the land. Nobody is above the law. We need to start insisting that our leaders — political and social — demonstrate the highest levels of integrity, respect and common sense. Starting NOW!