Yesterday, I saw several people online come to the defense of Matt Lauer. I was disturbed by this for many reasons, but mostly because, after everything that has happened, I am tired of people still doubting the victims. We know this happens. Truthfully I have not been a fan of Lauer or watched the Today Show in many years. I found him condescending and turned on him once he treated Ann Curry like garbage. It’s no surprise to me that a smug asshole like Lauer is capable of these crimes. But I know many were shocked.
As I said on Twitter, I do not expect bloggers or influencers to speak up about current events or politics. It’s not for everyone, especially those who make a living from their social media channels. And we need posts on fashion and home decor and DIYs because God knows we deserve the break. I get it. But, if you do choose to say something, I find it wrong to defend a known sexual predator, especially when you have an audience that’s 99.9% female. If you’re going to use your voice, use it for good. Be a role model. Get informed. Read the room. This is the problem, isn’t it? We wonder why many of these women did not come forward – and now we know. If members of our own gender doubt that men in power – men who seemed like gentle, family men – can do these things, who wouldn’t be terrified to come forward? We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the dumpster fire going on around us.
We ask why the victims didn’t speak up sooner, and, if you read the articles, you will see than many incidents were reported to the people in charge at NBC and nothing was done. Once again, they put money before the health, safety, and well-being of their female employees (please see how NBC refused to publish Ronan Farrow’s report on Harvey Weinstein). That’s the correct process, right? If I am harassed at work, I would report it to my employer first. And if nothing is done? What’s next?
Another argument I’ve seen online is that people make mistakes. That is fundamentally true. I make mistakes every single day. In fact, I somehow sent a draft of this post (that I was writing via my Gmail app) to everyone named Lindsay in my contact list. However, I do not go to work and pull out my breasts or expose my vagina and try to coerce people to sleep with me. There’s a difference between a mistake and doing something you inherently know is wrong. And all of this falls under the latter.
This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. This is a human rights issue. We all deserve the right to live in a world where we feel safe at work. A life free from the fear of being locked in an office and a superior exposing his penis. A life free from retaliation if we speak up. And, yes, a life free from being falsely accused. The finger-pointing must also stop as it’s men from both sides committing these atrocities. It’s Donald Trump. It’s Bill Clinton (it goes beyond Monica Lewinsky I’m afraid). It’s Roy Moore. It’s Al Franken. It’s a bipartisan problem.
We must also stop the “but he is such a nice guy” bullshit of defending people who do bad things. Nice is irrelevant. As Sarah Silverman recently asked, “can you love someone who does bad things?” I think you can. But defend them you cannot. Everyone thought Bill Cosby was a “nice” man. Kevin Spacey. Louis C.K. Look at what they’ve done.
I am inclined to believe anyone who claims they were harassed (or assaulted) because it has happened to me, as well as most of you. I have also been in a situation in which I needed a job and didn’t feel like I could do much about my circumstances. There is, of course, a certain privilege that comes along with not believing victims of sexual assault and impropriety. It’s hard for some to believe why a person would stay at a job where they’re being harassed, and to that I say: not everyone has the option to leave until another job comes along. Not everyone has a husband or family or a friend to rely on. Perhaps these people have never been in the situation of not knowing how they were going to pay next month’s bills or put food on the table. And maybe they have. There are also the women who come from better means and have the option to leave, but have worked hard to earn their careers, only to have their work derailed by a man who uses his power to abuse. The point is, many of us have stayed in shitty situations longer than we should because it’s what we had to do to survive. And there’s no shame in that.
As bloggers, I’d love to see us all work harder to empower instead of alienate. The one good thing I can say about this year is that (most) women have banded together and decided that we’re done taking this shit. That’s certainly something to keep in mind before posting, isn’t it?