Women are coming out about their experiences with sexual harassment in the workplace, despite evidence that the perpetrators will likely suffer no consequences. The many stories in the news cycle about powerful men taking advantage of women has got other men pissing their pants.
The New York Times reports that men are responding to the Cautionary Tale of Harvey Weinstein and others like it by avoiding their female colleagues, particularly those in a subordinate position. Instead of thinking about the discriminatory practices that allow Weinsteins to grow like persistent fungus, they’re making them an even bigger feature of the workplace. Men fear being accused of sexual harassment, because it would ruin their lives. Just take this quote from orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mukund Komanduri, who avoids women at work:
“I’m very cautious about it because my livelihood is on the line,” he said. “If someone in your hospital says you had inappropriate contact with this woman, you get suspended for an investigation, and your life is over. Does that ever leave you?”
Boo freaking hoo. You know what else doesn’t leave you? Being held back in your career because your manager is too scared to make eye contact with you because he’s afraid you’re gonna tell some story about how he harassed you. Or he might feel compelled to grab your boobies, and then he’d lose his job! You did this, Woman.
If men are afraid to get to know their female subordinates, that means they’re less likely to promote them or support them, and instead cultivate relationships with other men, as usual (but worse):
Women with sponsors are more likely to get challenging assignments and raises and to say they are satisfied with their career progress, according to data from the Center for Talent Innovation. Yet 64 percent of senior men and 50 percent of junior women avoid solo interactions because of the risk of rumors about their motives, according to a survey by the center.
One investor, who spoke anonymously with the NYT, says that a “big chill came across Silicon Valley” as stories about sexual harassment and assault at tech companies became public. They claimed that people were now canceling networking meetings and even casual coffee dates with women and minorities, because there is now a “huge reputational risk.” Yes, instead you’ll have the reputation of someone who doesn’t ever speak to women or minorities. Great, cool.
In all of these highly publicized stories, the sexual harassment was in the form of suggestive back rubs, forced kissing, flashing grotesque genitals, phone sex, sexting, and other forms of assault. They’re not stories about shaking hands too long over a latte. If you fear being accused of sexual harassment, don’t harass women, and you’ll do just fine. Also, promote them into positions of power so other women can find mentors who aren’t scared shitless by them.