On Sexual Harassment, the Absurdity of Open Secrets and Asking the Wrong Question

Ever since the news of Harvey Weinstein’s near-psychopathic history of sexual harassment and abuse went public, the floodgates have opened. Victims, feeling emboldened to tell their stories have come forward. The shockwaves have hit everything from the entertainment industry, the political world and even the news media.

All of this came after the reports of sexual harassment by players at Fox News including Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling.

Names of the accused include Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Celebrity chef, John Besh, Mark Halperin, Ken Baker, Brett Ratner, Jeffrey Tambor, Roy Moore, Louis C.K., Al Franken, Glenn Thrush, Charlie Rose and Pixar’s John Lasseter.

The last of the dominos hasn’t fallen by a long shot. There are a lot of nervous men out there waiting for the instances of their harassment or assault to surface. It’s only a matter of time.

There are two infuriating aspects about some of these stories.

The first is the “open secret” angle. After the accusations went public for Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Charlie Rose, came the revelation that people within their respective industries knew about their proclivities. The careers of the trio above are essentially over. Weinstein was dismissed from his firm. Netflix suspended the production of ‘House of Cards,’ and a movie Spacey appeared in is having his scenes re-shot. Rose was fired from CBS and the production of his PBS show is over.

That raises an important question: Why didn’t anybody do anything sooner? Why did they have to wait for victims to finally come forward before the three of them were told to get lost? The people in charge wasted no time in acting the moment the accusations went public. The behavior was clearly known internally about all three of them for years. The idea that people in positions of power didn’t have any idea what was going on does not pass the sniff test. They knew, and they did nothing.

It’s shameful. Nobody will know how many victims would have been spared if somebody had had the guts to do something sooner.

Concerning some of the accusers, particularly those who’ve made accusations against Roy Moore and Al Franken, people who are taking sides based on politics are asking questions such as, “Why didn’t they come forward sooner?” Leeann Tweeden, who accused Al Franken of groping her and kissing her in an unwanted way had people attacking her career as a model for men’s lifestyle magazines and posing nude for Playboy. Apparently, that was enough to question her veracity. Of course, those are the wrong questions.

The question people should be asking is, “What do victims have to gain by coming forward?”

Tweeden couldn’t possibly benefit from her accusation against Franken. Tweeden has a steady job as a news anchor on an LA radio station. She’s married to a former Air Force Pilot and has two children. She doesn’t gain from saying anything. Neither do the women who accused Roy Moore. Neither do the women who leveled accusations against Harvey Weinstein or any of the others accused of impropriety.

People within these industries had better start taking a proactive approach against the people who are “known” within those industries to engage in that behavior. And political tribalists are doing harm to the system, making it more difficult for victims to come forward for fear they’re going to automatically have their motivations questioned.

The people getting victimized deserve better.