Stories of sexual harassment have continued to pepper our news feeds. A need to address this social epidemic arises, and what better way to counter sexual harassment than to let the government take the reigns! However, this is not the direction we should be looking in. The government actually does not need to stop sexual harassment. The free market already is doing just that.
Women have been coming out of the shadows to discuss the disgusting acts of politicians, actors, comedians, and CEOs, who think that they can get away with groping, molesting, and in some cases, raping young women. Nevertheless, this is not a new phenomenon. Ted Kennedy was involved with a woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, while he was married. John F. Kennedy was a well-known womanizer. And how could we forget the infamous Bill Clinton admitting to having an affair with Monica Lewinsky, along with being accused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick? So, if this is not a new issue, then what has changed?
The media controls the narrative, which is why the stories of the aforementioned Democrats were quietly brushed aside. When then-presidential candidate Donald Trump had a tape released of him bragging about sexually mistreating women, the media thought they found the Jenga piece to bring down Trump. Unfortunately for the media, even with a number of women coming out against Trump, he still succeeded. However, something changed here. Starting with the Harvey Weinstein rapes, we have seen an increasing tendency to “listen to the women.” This notion has sparked campaigns like #MeToo and Silence Breakers.
#MeToo is a social media campaign that allows women a space to come out and tell their stories of sexual harassment. In addition to this open setting, women are able to support one another by letting each other know that they aren’t alone in their struggles. Also, the #MeToo Movement raised awareness in several forms. Women became more conscience of predatory behavior, all the while making it clear to these predators that this conduct wasn’t going to be accepted anymore.
#MeToo was created over a decade ago, despite only recently catching fire. This hashtag has had its ups and downs during that time. It has surpassed such other hashtag movements like #ItsNotOkay, #YesAllWomen, and #WhyIStayed. #MeToo has also spurred other similar hashtags around the globe, #QuellaVoltaChe, and #BalanceTonPorc. #MeToo has even sparked several other hashtag movements, including some for men, like #IWillSpeakUp and #Support Survivors.
The hashtag, #MeToo, has spread into a movement called the Silence Breakers. The Silence Breakers have become such a prominent movement, and were even named Time Magazine‘s Person(s) of the Year, 2017. Silence Breaker is an umbrella term for women who have been assaulted or harassed and have subsequently came forward to tell their stories. This also consists of the men who have taken steps to call out this behavior, stand against it, and protect the space that these women need to share their stories.
These spaces weren’t sectioned off by laws or created through legislation. Instead, they were freely constructed by women banding together and showing up to back one another in taking out some of the most disgusting people.
The increased awareness about sexual assault is creating a social movement that empowers women to bring down not only large media tyrants like Weinstein, but also politicians like Al Franken, Jon Conyers, and most recently, Roy Moore. This is a huge shift from the days of Ted and Bobby Kennedy. Suddenly, the “untouchables” are no longer untouchable. Nevertheless, the government is attempting to divert this type of behavior through legislation and regulation.
Freedom of speech has allowed these women to come out and speak against these powerful men. Freedom of the press has allowed these women a platform to speak in which they cannot be suppressed. Where are things headed now?
For politicians, mandated sexual harassment training is currently being discussed and debated, but this alone will not affect real change. Politicians will merely use this training as a smokescreen to try to discredit their future accusers.
Only half of all states have some form of legal sexual harassment laws, but most companies working in the other half of the states have their own sexual harassment standards. One of the 25 states that requires training is California, which is where Harvey Weinstein operated frequently. Companies like the Weinstein Company, which is out of New York, have subsidiaries in California.
What this means is that Weinstein, even if he failed to attend sexual harassment classes himself, has owned companies in which sexual harassment training was required to be administered to the employees. Al Franken, Kevin Spacey, Andy Dick, Ben Affleck, Dustin Hoffman, along with several other actors and media hosts who have been accused just this year, have worked in California as well. So, if writing a law will stop people from committing such disturbing deeds, then why have these public figures continued to act in this manner? Because words on paper don’t stop people from committing heinous crimes.
We can also observe federal sexual harassment laws. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC, has laws that are not state specific and that require businesses to have the laws regarding sexual assault posted visibly. Everyone has seen the big laminated sign hanging in the break room. Despite these laws going into effect with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, enforcement is sporadic at best, and the subsequent amount of sexual harassment complaints range from 33% to 75% of women in the workplace. Whatever the actual number, the number of incidents are undeniably higher than anyone desires. So how do we solve the issue?
Well first off, allowing the government to hire people to train them in sexual harassment prevention is a huge mistake. This will only turn into a political pay for play racket in which politicians will line their pockets, or the pockets of their friends, in the name of safety on the taxpayer’s dime. How might you ask? The idea that a company pays campaign contributions or donations to charity funds in hopes of some form of kick back isn’t new. Big Pharma, AIG, Bloomberg, and more have all donated large sums of money in hopes of swaying politicians in their favor. This will open up the gates for politicians to accept contributions in return for giving the sexual harassment contract to a donor. This happened during the Bush years with Dick Cheney and Halliburton and has continued through subsidiaries.
It’s becoming clear that passing laws or requiring sexual harassment classes does not actually prevent sexual assault. Predators do not attend a class and magically change their behavior simply because they read a pamphlet and watch a PowerPoint. Realistic answers are needed here. These people move in the shadows, unless someone forces them into the spotlight. What is happening now is a shift in the way we address the issues. These silence breaking women are pushing wealthy and powerful men out of the mainstream and into the shadows. Despite the fact that some of these men are pushing back, society must keep fighting to keep sexual harassment and assault at bay.
To do that, society needs to protect the rights of people to speak freely and provide a platform for these women to expose their assailants. Here is a great list of all the people who have been accused of sexual misconduct in 2017. This list gives a summary of the situation and all the details on the outcome. So many of these cases have not even reached the mainstream news. Give women a platform, and push out these disgusting people, because we all know that sexual harassment laws are not going to do it for us. The free market isn’t perfect, but it has certainly addressed the problem with more of an impact than laws accepted, adopted, or legislated by the state. This approach gives cadence to the fact that this is an issue that the free market can handle if we create the space available to those women who need their story told, and take the proper individual actions to expel those grotesque people that poison our society.