Sex and Power in the workplace

painting-2611922_1920I know I promised you some interviews, and they’re coming. But something came up this week that I felt like I had to write about.

Now, I wanted to feature women and female-identifying folks on my blog because even in 2017, women are still under-represented in leadership roles, and under-paid at every level. We all know that this is an issue (and if you don’t, you need to catch up to the rest of us), but I never dreamed that this issue would be brought to the fore so disturbingly this week.

The revelation of Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual abuse has forced the conversation about sexual violence in the workplace to the forefront. We all know that sexual assault is about power rather than pleasure, and given that women are disproportionally shut out of leadership roles, it is unsurprising that they are predominately the victims of workplace sexual assault.

What is perhaps most telling about the Weinstein saga is how unsurprising it was to so many. Whether or not they know Weinstein personally, I guarantee every woman you know has some sort of sexual harassment scenario – most likely have too many to count. The power imbalance between men and women has been going on since time immemorial, and it has allowed this kind of fear-mongering power display to fester. Getting groped at the office or ignoring insulting asides from coworkers is commonplace, and women have been forced to adopt a “keep calm and carry on” attitude as they navigate office politics.

I’m fortunate that in my career, I’ve experienced relatively little sexual harassment in the workplace, and certainly nothing to the extent of Harvey Weinstein’s victims. I have, however, experienced my fair share of misogyny, and it’s all part and parcel of the same thing. Women are seen as less valuable, and so their opinions are less valued. Women are seen as possessions and trophies, and so many men see themselves as entitled to touch or take them, consent and professionalism be damned.

I’m not saying any of this to be dramatic (which, because I’m one of those “emotional females,” I feel like I have to explicitly state), but rather to lay out the facts. No matter the job, whether it’s student, or office worker, stay at home mom, or actor, women have to put on a suit of armour just to walk out the door every morning. There’s a culture change that needs to happen, and it needs to start with men. Sexual harrasment and assault shouldn’t be part of “a day at the office.”


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