We were very honored to be invited to KGO 810 to talk about WOMAN Inc during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Thank you to the station and to Ronn Owens for allowing us access to your platform; we connected with your listeners and hope some folks listening needed to hear about our organization.
Unfortunately, we weren’t present during the conversation about George H.W. Bush and the recent accusations of sexual harassment made against him; we wish we could have been there to join in and share our thoughts.
Nevertheless, we want to be sure that our community understands our stance on sexual harassment. Our stance is rather simple: Sexual harassment (including but not limited to unwanted touching, taunting, advances, threats, intimidation, inappropriate sexual jokes, or unwanted remarks on a woman’s physical appearance) is never OK. Never.
By definition, sexual harassment flies in the face of consent. There are no false equivalencies that can be drawn to water down the shame a perpetrator should feel after making unsolicited, unwelcome advances toward women. It can not be explained away, minimized or ignored–regardless of the perpetrator’s physical abilities (or lack thereof), age, position of authority or status. In other words, you don’t get a pass, (former) President Bush. Neither does anyone else.
When someone perpetrates sexual harassment they are gaining power and control, much like when someone uses abuse in their relationship. It isn’t OK. It dehumanizes the victim. Women are not game pieces to be played in brokering power moves. Women are not trophies for men who desperately need to feel powerful, for weak men who don’t like the word NO. Women are not conquests. Women are people with agency and rights. Treat us accordingly.
Finally, we want to center, in this case, women sharing their stories. They are not easy stories to tell, they aren’t always safe stories to tell, they are stories that can detrimental to tell. And yet, there is freedom in letting go of someone else’s secret. The men are responsible for their harassment. Our hope is that the #metoo movement (thank you Tarana Burke who created the hashtag 10 years ago!) will continue to help victims–survivors–to let that shame and isolation go.
We believe you. We stand with you. We hear you. We see you. We honor you.