From the election of a US President whose negative commentary on women is no secret, to the outpouring of revelations about Harvey Weinstein and the subsequent #Me too campaign, reveals the ubiquity of sexual violence against women. It’s important however, that we don’t allow this to become a story about one or two bad guys who did these terrible things, it happens in every country and every day across every industry.
Two Uni students, working part-time in hospitality, expressed to me yesterday just how hard it is to take on serial predators “groping, sexual jokes, indecent propositions, are part of the territory; it’s just something that you have to put up with,” said one. Both women expressed their lack of confidence that anything could be done in response to making a complaint, and their concern that if they did complain, that they could loose not just their reputation but also their job.
I think it’s important to remember however, that most men are not the problem, but the solution. All of us need to be proactive. We can’t just be shocked and outraged when something comes up in the news, dies down and then resurfaces. Men and women need to be shocked and outraged every day that women in this country are being sexually harassed and assaulted not just at work but in unexpected places too, for example, on university campuses.
Women need men to challenge and hold other men accountable for their attitudes and behaviour. When we get to a place where there is not normalcy and acceptance and disregard, but instead shock and disbelief at any incident on any given day—to me, that’s what real change is.