One of, if not, the greatest generational issues we now face is how we treat abuse, harassment and gender. I know that’s more than one, but they all seem to link up over time. Whether in the workplace or at home, there still is an old guard that doesn’t believe or respect women and victims; who still have difficulty understanding what constitutes abuse and assault. Men and women who would rather doubt than listen are in a constant state of confusion.
Someone close to me, and I have had a few actual arguments about current cases in the news cycle. Even if I may not go as far as to believe the victim’s complete story outright, I take the position that it’s not surprising. And at the very least, these things can and do happen. So to completely dismiss the alleged victim is wildly problematic.
Addressing Gender Bias Through Education
My theory is, our culture has spent so many generations treating women and marginalized peoples disparagingly, that it is hard for some men to recognize that they’ve done something wrong. How do you correct bad behavior when the person doesn’t think it is bad behavior? The labor, time and effort it will take to present not only an alternative frame of thought, but to convince someone that they’ve done wrong when our society for so many years has said otherwise, is too much to bear.
So here’s the plan, we start training up the younger generation — not just the teens and 20-somethings, but actual children and babies. From infancy, there should be universal teachings of respecting women, understanding gender, and what consent means. It may seem dramatic and too young for such conversations, but how do women get on an equal playing field, if equity isn’t taught until a person is watching one of those HR training seminars or learning from a cautionary tale when someone takes a fall from grace due to bad behavior? By then, it’s too late. The number of victims that may be left in their wake could be in the double digits.
It May Be Trending, But It’s Not New
When my friend asks, why there seems to be a surge in rapes, assault allegations, harassment and the lawsuits or criminal cases that may follow, I simply tell them, it may be trending, but it’s not new. We’ve just come to a semblance of comfort to hold space for tough and uncomfortable conversations – allowing victims the courage and support to speak out. There’s not an uptick in assaults and victims. Instead, we’re finally getting clear on what abuse can and does look like. Ask the women in your life how they may have been assaulted, harassed and mistreated throughout their lives, and the results may disturb you. Add in intersectionality, and those stories may at least double. So if we want to get healed and be made anew as a culture, I hate to say it, but these old, backward thinking generations have to either catch up fast or die off soon. As we grow as a society, there is no room for intolerance or people who refuse to at least listen and learn. The onus is on them; the rest of us are watching.