By Lisa Falkenberg
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Columnist Lisa Falkenberg shares her thoughts on sexual harassment. She says, “Like race, sexual harassment is an uncomfortable topic that requires people to listen to each other’s experiences. It’s how we learn. We will get nowhere excluding men or dismissing their honest questions and concerns.”
Fair warning. You will disagree with some aspect of this column. If you don’t, I’m not doing my job.
I toil in the gray, the nuance, the squishy middle of tough issues that make some people break out in hives.
But after weeks of watching a painful procession of sexual harassment allegations crash the news pages like a freeway pileup, I’m worried the conversation — the outrage and the pushback — is becoming too black and white.
The obvious truth is that there are some monsters out there, some men who for too long have used their power and influence to abuse women sexually. The fact that women were afraid to come forward with accusations against film producer Harvey Weinstein was a tragedy, and the fact that they somehow found the courage to speak out, and in doing so opened the floodgates for multitudes of other women to share their stories about Weinstein and others, is profound progress.
So, too, is the fact that alleged victims feel empowered to call out some of the most well-regarded celebrities and politicians in the country for a range of sexual indiscretions — from pinching rears, to exhibitionist masturbating, to propositioning minors for sex.
Even average women have found a voice to speak out about through the #metoo hashtag.
All of this has the potential to be as healing and as constructive as it is painful and stunning.
But here is some gray.
The other night, a dear friend who is about as gentle and sensitive in his demeanor as any man I’ve ever met, sent me a text that read: