Fellow white males, sexual assault and harassment is our problem. We have to acknowledge the damage we are doing to society. We’ve got to own the idea that an attempt to stop it starts with us.
Trust me, I know a lot of you have already stopped reading this because of those first three sentences. My message to you: you are part of the problem, so get the hell out of the way if you don’t want to acknowledge the issue. As Shooter McGavin in “Happy Gilmore” says, “Damn you people, go back to your shanties”.
The list of powerful white men facing sexual assault or harassment accusations seems to keep growing every single day. Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Kevin Spacey, Roy Moore, James Toback, Roger Ailes, Bill O’ Reilly, and even the president, Donald Trump. I could easily keep going, but I don’t want the article to just be one GIANT list.
What do many of these men have in common? They are or have been in positions of power. Power can go to people’s heads, allowing them to feel the freedom to do what they please.
According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, 14 million women said they were sexually abused in work-related episodes. On top of that, 25 percent of them identified men with sway over their careers as the culprits. So, you may ask, what’s 25 percent of 14 million? That would be 3.5 million cases of sexual assault committed by people of power in this poll alone.
I’m calling on white males here because **shocker** we make up a majority of those same positions of power. According to Fortune, seven in 10 senior executives of Fortune 500 companies are white men. In the Hollywood Reporter’s most recent “Top 100 Most Powerful People in Hollywood”, 76 were white men.
Let’s head to Silicon Valley where a study found 60 percent of women working in the tech industry had experienced sexual harassment. Of those, 65 percent said it was from a superior, and half had advances made on them more than once.
I bet you can tell by now where this is going. Of those at the executive level of the Silicon Valley 150 (the top public tech companies in the bay area), 83 percent are white and 94 percent are men.
The political landscape is no different. A whopping 91 percent of senators are white, and 79 percent are men. No better on the House side, 78 percent of the representatives are white, and 81 percent are men. There are 44 male governors and 94 percent of governors are white. Men also hold 75.1 percent of state legislature seats, and 85 percent are white.
The worst part of these polls and statistics are the number of abusers who go unpunished and the number of women scared to speak out. In that ABC News-Washington Post poll, 95 percent of the women who faced sexual abuse in the workplace reported that the male perpetrators would usually go unpunished. In the study on Silicon Valley, two out of five women interviewed did not report the harassment because they thought it would negatively impact their career.
This is why it has to start being acknowledged in the white male community. We are being accused of horrendous actions and we need to stop sweeping it under the rug. Step up and own it!
This is not a political issue; this is a right and wrong issue. If your first thought is to attack the accuser, then you are deplorable. I know it’s a buzzword, but oh does it fit so nicely here.
You know what doesn’t help? Comments like this from Franklin Graham.
The hypocrisy of Washington has no bounds. So many denouncing Roy Moore when they are guilty of doing much worse than what he has been accused of supposedly doing. Shame on those hypocrites.
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) November 17, 2017
Once the argument turns into which sexual assault ranks worse than another, we ALL lose. Get off your supposed moral high ground and let’s start making real steps to stopping all of it from happening. I will be the first to admit I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve got some great places to start.
First step, stop being terrible people. Not every person wants your advances, so keep your hands and lips to yourself. If you’re in a position of power, treat everyone with the same respect they give to you. It doesn’t give you free rein to live out your creepy sexual desires with innocent people.
Second step, educate yourself. Make sure you understand the severity of the problem and how much it can negatively affect a victim. Ask a survivor and I’m sure they will tell you the scars it has left on them.
While sexual assault and harassment is an issue we must address as an entire nation, if 57 percent of the perpetrators are white and 99 percent are male then I think it’s clear who should be doing the most to put a stop to these actions.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, abuse, or harassment and are looking for help, here are a few places to start: National Assault Telephone Hotline, Safe Alliance, NC Rape Crisis Centers, Brave Step, and Charlotte Sexual Abuse Support Groups. Also, if you’d like to volunteer at Safe Alliance, please click here.
Photos: Brynn Anderson, Matthias Balk, Hal Yeager, Richard Shotwell – AP