Sexual harassment allegations: How did we get here? Local women respond

Every day, there seems to be a new report about someone powerful being accused of sexual misconduct or harassment.

The avalanche of accusations keeps growing. Why now, and why does it matter?

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Every day, there seems to be a new report about someone powerful being accused of sexual misconduct or harassment.

How did we get here?

It all started with Harvey Weinstein, producer and co-founder of the Weinstein company. He was the first to be accused on October 5th.

Later that month actor Kevin Spacey was accused by multiple men of sexual assault. One was a minor.

 Two days later on Oct. 31, comedian Andy Dick was fired from his film after accusations surfaced.

After that, the landslide began:

  • Producer and director Brett Ratner was dropped by Warner Brothers on Nov. 3.
  • Alabama Politician Roy Moore and comedian Louis C.K. both made headlines on Nov. 9.
  • Moore was accused of inappropriate relationships with five teens.
  • Five different women called out Louis CK.
  • Just a week later two women came forward saying U.S. Sen. Al Franken groped them.
  • Then just this week, CBS anchor Charlie Rose was accused of sexual harassment.

We haven't been able to go a week, or even a couple of days, without telling you about a new allegation.

Those are only a few of the accused, and they're powerful, famous people.

Nearly half of women say they were harassed

 “The surprising part is that it’s come out, and that it continues to come out and that this wave is continuing,” said Lynn Hurtak, acting president of the National Organization for Women Tampa chapter. “If you talk to all of your girlfriends, all of my girlfriends, all of my mother’s girlfriends, everyone has a story. There is not a woman alive who doesn’t have a story about being sexually harassed.”

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds almost half of America’s working women say they’ve been harassed at work.

The study polled 285 women and 286 men. Most believe sexual harassment is widespread.

 “I think it’s probably about time and also sickening in many ways,” said Jane Morse-Swett, founder of Women with Purpose. 

 “I mean how many times have you smiled through something uncomfortable,” Hurtak said. “I mean we all do it because we are groomed to do it.”

Many of the cases are coming out years later. Does it matter how long ago the alleged harassment took place?

 “People are saying, 'What does it matter, this happened 40 years ago,'” Hurtak said. “Well, I can tell you, if someone gets raped or anything, that doesn’t go away after 40 years. I’m super-proud of these women.”

 “Women have been putting up with this for years and have never had the voice to open up and say, why are you doing this. you can’t do this,” said Morse-Swett.

Women who are assaulted or harassed have ways to be heard.

Why do you think so many women are telling their stories about what happened to them?

 “They feel empowered that now they can come forward and talk,” said Morse-Swett.

A Washington Post story outlining years of alleged sexual misconduct by movie mogul Weinstein set off the avalanche of allegations.

 “I know with the Harvey Weinstein thing some of these women were probably thinking they had to do something to promote their careers,” Morse-Swett said.

“But it’s very hard,” Hurtak adds. “When you think about your job. I don’t know many people who can afford to lose their job.”

What about the average workplace?

These are all men of power that we see in the national spotlight. But what happens when it’s the everyday person?

“Oftentimes women do what they can to get away from people like that,” Hurtak said. “Like bosses, so you don’t go in the office with them and close the door. You don’t sit next to them in the boardroom for a conversation.”

“When you sit down with a group at a meeting or whatever, there’s always these sexual innuendos,” said Morse-Swett. There’s always something being said, and it’s inappropriate.”

 “Would I call back to a job two years ago or two jobs ago and say something about it?” Hurtak said. “I don’t know, I think each woman has to think for themselves about that. But what if, but what if you heard on the news someone accused them of rape. Then you might call and say hey I had this previous experience with them because that lends credibility to that women.”

If there could be something good that comes out of this, what is it?

 “Hopefully it encourages both genders to stand up and say no I don’t like being touched,” Hurtak said. It's just like your aunt who kisses you on the lips when you’re a kid and you hated it. It’s the same thing. I’m hoping more people are confident enough to say I don’t like that. Please stop.”

 

 

 

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