Tag Archives: sexual harassment

She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement Book Review

Throughout history, there has been an obvious power imbalance between men and women. Especially when it came to sex.

When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in 2017, it forever changed the way that rape and sexual assault are viewed. But bringing that story to the front page was not easy. In the new book, She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement, New York Times writers Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey recount the months long and difficult process of bringing this story to the public.

For decades, there were whispers within Hollywood about producer Harvey Weinstein. But as soon as reports surfaced of allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault, they were put down as mere rumor. That is until Kantor and Twohey started digging. That digging opened a Pandora’s box of truth, lies and the people who would do almost anything to close that box again.

This book reads like a fictional thriller instead of a real story. It is a heart pounding roller coaster ride until the very end of the book. We know how the story ends, but there were so many blockages for Kantor and Twohey that I started to wonder if justice would finally prevail. When I finally finished the book, I was relieved that Weinstein was finally getting what was coming to him.

The thing that strikes me about this book and this story is that it is universal among women. The women who come forward in this book tell the same story, with minor details changed for their specific narrative. They range from Hollywood A-listers to fast food workers to teenage girls assaulted by their drunk male classmates. If nothing else, I think that this book and others of this nature are a starting point for a conversation that is more than overdue.

I absolutely recommend it.

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The Perfect Resolution to Grantchester’s #Metoo Moment

*This post contains spoilers about this season of Grantchester. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the entire season.

Women have been experiencing sexual assault and sexual harassment since the beginning of time. It is only in the past few years that the #Metoo movement has forced the hand of lawmakers and leaders to stop and/or prevent such acts.

This season of Grantchester tackled the issue as only this show can.

After having her children and spending quite a few years at home, Cathy Keating (Kacey Ainsworth) is ready to go back to work. It’s supposed to bring in additional income and give her something to do outside of the traditional roles of marriage and motherhood.

But like many women across the centuries, Cathy has more than the standard workload on her hands. Her lecherous colleague, Anthony Hobbs (Christian McKay) has wandering hands and the idea that his female colleagues are there for his sexual pleasure. The preview of the scene starts at :11.

There are two ways to resolve a story line of this manner: the easy way and the hard way. The easy way would have been that upon finding out about Mr. Hobbs, Cathy’s husband, Geordie (Robson Green) would have jumped into the car, driven to the store where his wife works and give Mr. Hobbs a beating he will never forget.

The hard way is for the women to stand up and use their brains to stop this man. Cathy enlists Mrs. Chapman (Tessa Peake-Jones) to help her get rid of Mr. Hobbs without relying on on her husband.

I won’t give away the ending of this narrative thread, but I will say that it felt satisfying, despite the frustration of Mr. Hobbs not being exposed for the predator that he is.

Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a little creativity to ensure that these men are treated as the criminals that they are. Especially when too many women still experience sexual harassment and sexual assault on a daily basis.

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Reckoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment Book Review

Since the beginning of human history, men have used sex to gain power over women. But thanks the hard work of generations of women, the power imbalance is starting to even out.

In the new book, Reckoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment, by Linda Hirshman, explores how women have fought back against sexual harassment and have slowly began to win the war.

Ms. Hirshman starts her book in the 1970’s, when women began to talk to each other and organize against men who took advantage of their female subordinates. She then moves forward in time highlighting a number of accusations of rape and/or sexual harassment against prominent men and the women who were brave enough to go public with the accusations. The list includes the 1991 Clarence Thomas Hearings and the accusations by Anita Hill, the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton Scandal, and the multiple women claimed that Harvey Weinstein took advantage of them sexually.

Reckoning is a perfect title for this book. While telling the story of these brave and bold women, Ms. Hirshman inspires the reader to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. She also pulls no punches, calling out politicians on both sides of the aisle, women who stay silent and men who continue to perpetuate this heinous act.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Thoughts On Joe Biden’s Run For the 2020 Presidential Election

For months, former Vice President Joe Biden was on the top of the leader board as the Democrat who had the best chance to defeat you know who come next fall. But he had yet to confirm or deny that he was running for President. Today, he confirmed that he is running for President.

I have to be honest. I have mixed feelings about this announcement.

One could argue that among the Democratic candidates, he is politically one of the most qualified to run the country. He has been in government for nearly fifty years, eight of those  years were as Vice President under Barack Obama. As a liberal Democrat, Biden checks off many of the boxes that liberal/Democratic voters look for in a Presidential nominee.

But still, there a few things that bother me.

His actions during the Anita Hill hearing don’t sit well with me. Granted, it was decades ago, the hope is that he has changed and learned from his mistakes. But it still bothers me that instead of giving this woman a chance to tell her story, she was treated like dirt.

The accusations of being too touchy with certain women. Granted, he did not go as far as Harvey Weinstein or Matt Lauer, but the fact that did not recognize the boundaries of personal space by these women sends alarm bells off in my head.

Do we really want another old White man serving the highest office in the land? It’s 2019, it’s time to give a woman or a person of color the opportunity to run this country. My fear is that many voters will default to Biden because he is the standard political leader instead of giving another candidate a shot at becoming President.

It’s only April, we won’t know for at least a year as to whom will win the nomination. But whoever they are, they had better be in for a fight, because you know who never backs down from a fight.

 

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Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience Book Review

It’s 2019. In an ideal world, we would judge each other as an individual, not by factors such as skin color, religion, sex, etc. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where we judge each other based on external factors without knowing who the other person really is.

Anuradha Bhagwati knows all too well about the reality of the world we live in. The only child of strict Indian immigrants, Ms. Bhagwati was on the traditional academic track until she dropped out of grad school to join the Marines. She tells her story in her new memoir, Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience Book. Among the branches of the US Military, the Marines is by far the toughest. Especially for a bisexual woman of color who has the balls not only to succeed, but to stand up the misogynistic and racist men who make it clear that her presence in the Marines is not wanted.

After leaving the Marines, Ms. Bhagwati used her experience to break barriers. Her efforts opened the doors for women to be treated as equals by their commanders while speaking out about the pervasive sexual assault and sexual harassment that women in the military face every day.

 

This book, from my perspective, should be a must read for every woman. I find the author to be nothing short of inspiring. She could have taken the easy way out and followed the expected path in life. But she took the road less traveled, leading her to pave the way for other women to take the road less traveled.

I recommend it.

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Thoughts On The Joe Biden Accusations

Sexual assault and sexual harassment has been part of the human experience for an untold number of generations. Thankfully, things are starting to change for the better.

Though former Vice President Joe Biden has not formally announced that he will be running for President for the 2020 Presidential election, the polls over the past few weeks have labeled him as the front-runner among the Democratic candidates.

The hitch, in this potential Presidential run, is that he has been accused of inappropriately touching at least two women. Granted, the nature of the accusations are not as harsh as the accusations against Harvey Weinstein were, but it’s clear that Vice President Biden crossed boundaries that he should have never crossed.

I wish I knew where we could go from here to completely eradicate sexual assault and sexual harassment. We can only legislate and litigate to a certain point. The rest of the journey requires a societal level consciousness about where boundaries lay between men and women. Legislation and litigation is the easy part. Changing the way we view each other and respecting boundaries, that is going to take much more time and effort on the part of all of us.

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Will & Grace and The #MeToo Movement

Men using their power to use women for sex has existed for a millennia, if not longer.

Last week’s episode of Will & Grace addressed the #Metoo movement as only Will & Grace can.

In the episode, Grace (Debra Messing), is spending the day with her father, Martin (Robert Klein). While stopping at a restaurant, Grace reveals that she was sexually assaulted by a friend of her father’s whom she worked for in high school.

I loved this episode. Kudos to the writing team, Debra Messing and Robert Klein for addressing the issue of sexual assault in a way that hits home. The man who assaulted Grace is not a powerful politician or a movie mogul. He is simply an older man who thought that he had the right to sexually assault a teenage girl.

In the pantheon of Will & Grace episodes, this one is for the books. The writers could have hit the viewer over the head. But instead, they told the story of a young girl’s assault and how after it still affected her years after it happened.

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Add Another One To The List XII: Les Moonves And Chris Hardwick

Since last fall, the backlash against rich and powerful men accused of sexual assault and/or harassment has been swift and powerful. Men who thought they could get away with such acts without repercussions are finally being forced to admit to their crimes. The newest men added to this dishonorable list is CEO chairman Les Moonves and  comic/podcast host Chris Hardwick.

Last week, Mr. Moonves was accused of using the casting couch to fill his sexual needs in return for work. In June, Mr. Hardwick was accused of abusing and blacklisting an ex-girlfriend.

The accusations against Mr. Moonves are still fresh. Only time will tell if he receives the same statement as Harvey Weinstein or if he is exonerated. As of this week, Mr. Hardwick has been cleared of the charges.

I feel like at this point, our collective response should not be all fire and fury. But that also depends on the severity of the charge. The response to the accusations against Aziz Ansari should not be the same response to Harvey Weinstein.  But that doesn’t mean that they can get away with it.

The message should be clear. Sexual assault and harassment by both men and women will not be tolerated. Those accused of such acts and found guilty will receive a punishment that fits the crime.

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RIP Anthony Bourdain

The black dog, as Winston Churchill put it, has struck again.

On Wednesday, the dog claimed the life of designer Kate Spade. This morning, the life the dog took was that of chef, author and television personality Anthony Bourdain. He was 61.

He was found in his hotel room in France where he was filming a future episode for his CNN series, Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown.

Depression and mental illness is not a joke. At best, the person suffering lives as best they can. At worst, they take their own life, causing their loved ones to ask questions that can never be answered.

My heart breaks for those who knew him on a personal level, especially his young daughter and his girlfriend, Asia Argento. Ms. Argento is one of the woman who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault.

I know what it is like to live with the black dog.  It sits on my lap all day, every day. If your reading this post and you also have the black dog sitting on your lap, please get help. If not for your sake, but for the ones you love.

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Thoughts On Bill Clinton’s #Metoo Comments

A Presidential Impeachment is history making. 20 years, Bill Clinton was nearly impeached for lying about the sexual liaison he had with then White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

While promoting his new book, The President Is Missing, (co-written with James Patterson) on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, President Clinton was asked about the scandal.

 

I believe that we have to take the following into consideration when passing judgement on President Clinton:

  1. He was not the first and will not be the last public official who is caught having an extramarital affair.
  2. An older male manager taking sexual advantage of a younger female employee is nothing new. Working women throughout history have dealt with this problem for an untold number of generations.
  3. We didn’t have the language or the perspective in 1998 that we have today. The #Metoo movement has shined a necessarily uncomfortable spotlight on the issue of sexual harassment and assault, especially in the workplace.
  4. Unlike other men accused of a similar crime (especially you know who), President Clinton appears from my perspective to be genuinely contrite about his actions.

However, his apologies cannot and will not absolve him of his actions. While his reputation has recovered, the reputations of the women linked to the scandal will forever be tainted. Monica Lewinsky will never lead a normal life. Hillary Clinton perhaps could have perhaps won the 2016 Presidential election, if not for her husband’s past misdeeds.

I don’t know if I will ever completely forgive President Clinton. But at the same time, I appreciate the apology and his support for the #Metoo movement. If there is any silver lining in this story, it is that the #Metoo movement is not going away. It is only getting stronger and will continue to grow until women are treated equal to men.

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