When it comes to sexual harassment, it is not enough to expose what is wrong and then hold high profile perpetrators accountable. That only touches the tip of the problem, as if these particular women are more important than all the rest. Notable female celebrities may reap millions of dollars in compensation, and have myriad voices speak out on their behalf, but what of daily harassments that other women have to deal with? They are just as real and important as the Megan Kellys and ambitious actresses.
On Meet the Press, referring to recent exposés on sexual harassment, Chuck Todd made the comment that “politics, the media and Hollywood covers everything.” No doubt from his perspective it does. But what about the rest of us? Will expensive attorneys like Gloria Allred rush to the defense of the woman next door against a poor or middle class preditor? Probably not. They play on a different level, one based on notoriety and massive settlements. And the cultural problem goes on.
This provides some insight as to how legal, political and communication elites view the world we live in—and many of us are so influenced by the media that we automatically buy into it.
The only way to change things for the better, for all of us, is to replace this pattern of sick behavior with a cultural paradigm that is healthy. Sexual harassment, and many other forms of anti-social behavior, should not just be condemned when caught. They need to be eradicated by cultural messages and expectations (peer pressure) that move social behavior in the right direction. Indeed, that is the purpose of culture. Right now, the messages are disturbingly mixed. Our entertainment industry, even under the pretext of making positive statements, encourages the negative at the same time. Political hypocrisy provides cover for just about every vice. Respected business people show themselves not respectable at all. They are invested in keeping things the way they are.
It’s up to us to steer our culture in the right direction. We must work to make equality, civility and respect for others real at every level. We can do this by adopting a consistent moral code that rings true to both conscience and reason.
Chivalry-Now offers the 12 Trusts as just such a code. The 6th Trust, written years ago, takes sexual harassment seriously: “I will honor and respect women, and refute sexism in all its guises.”
Now, I know that some men will view this Trust as a threat. This is how far off course we have become as a society. They only feel like men when they feel entitled or dominate others, women especially. This not only victimizes women, it victimizes those who fall for it as well. They detract from their own moral composition, and that stains every aspect of their lives.
The 12 Trusts should never be viewed as a moral code that shackles our freedom. Indeed, it is a code that liberates by empowering our own sense of fairness and dignity while guiding us to right behavior.
I’m sure there are other moral codes that do that too. The important thing is to find and be inspired by a good one, and then reflect that into our culture accordingly.