The Harvey Weinstein mess signals a need for change

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Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

By now, you've caught up with the fact that Harvey Weinstein fell from grace the weekend after the revelations about his seedy behavior came to light... And then he gets fired from the company bearing his name.

When I see the story for what it is, it's just so much bigger than another executive getting fired for bad stuff. Yes, the punishment is just and should be happening. But it's the fact that these women had to experience this and felt like they had to keep it silent in fear of retaliation or loss of their careers.

On another level, it's a cold water reminder of where we are today. And, I really hope this won't serve as another blip on the radar. Instead, it's a reminder of the truth at the heart of it:

Changing a system of behavior and how women are treated is about more than public outcry after several transgressions. Instead, it's about attaching a stigma of embarrassment and punishment to that behavior earlier in the game. And, on a deeper level, it's about respecting people equally and fairly. 

What does this look like?

  • Not waiting until something goes public to tackle the issue, so brilliantly stated in this tweet by Laurie Stark.
  • Even an utterance of impropriety would hinder pay or job security immediately.
  • Senior level executives and people of influence would hold their colleagues accountable for more more than just the "worst" stuff, but every bout of unfairness. Jake Tapper points out that it's hard to believe that Miramax didn't know about this. But, I would look back a little further: were there signs of mistreatment and harassment sooner? Could he have been stopped then?

Truth be told, we know this. It's the way Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly and even Bill Cosby managed to go years keeping their shady lives under wraps.

This all said, it looks like public outcry is finally happening a lot louder than ever before. And, men in power have started to feel the chill of these kind of claims. There's a bit of fear out there for once. That's a move in the right direction.

Where I remain hopeful is the kind of action this event can inspire because this to continue to happen just isn't right:

  • Keeping the conversation alive. To continue to talk about it means a regular inclusion in the larger social discourse, which includes all forms of media, the workplace, whatever.
  • Building more female alliances and leadership at the top. Even with the rise of women today, it's instances like these that remind us that the boy's club culture is alive and well. Therefore, alliance building and more female faces at the top will at least start to shift the idea that it's OK to do this.
  • Inspiring more public outcries of bad behavior. Calling more folks down to the carpet for bad behavior could actually start to inspire the feeling of fear that should be felt with this kind of thing.
  • Motivating bottom up change. Change that comes from the grassroots level can do wonders to help shape a new way of thinking. This could include continued emphasis on proper etiquette and equality in the work place, expanding and increasing the representation of women at all levels any company and even starting younger, in the classrooms, empowering and informing the minds of tomorrow so when they lead our companies and governments, they at least come with. a more enlightened point of view on the world.

While Harvey Weinstein's fall was loud, I'm sure it won't be the last. And, I'm sure there are several more horrific things happening this very moment that have yet to see the light of day. However, here's to hoping that the aftermath of this latest spill is enough to inspire a shift in the way this kind of behavior comes to light.

Filed under: Celebrity

Tags: Celebrity, Harassment, Hollywood, Women

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