Why Can’t Women Get More Protection for Sexual Harassment?

Ideas and Issues

shutterstock_185374205Missoula   The starter on our 1979 Toyota fishing truck has been putting on a sketchy show. Sometimes, we turn the key, and the truck jumps into action. But, not once, but twice, I found myself looking at all systems saying go, but not a sound when I turned the key. Solenoid? I have been there and done that too many times, but usually there are telltale clicks before death. After jiggling and thumping the starter and anything else under the hood, magically, the truck has started again, but with a dawn drive from the Creek to the airport for two of our family, wisdom and the Boy Scout still stuck deep inside of me got me up at 5AM to drive the truck in for a some kind of diagnosis or repair. The mechanic said sometimes there’s a “flat” spot in a starter, where a jiggle and 8 or 9 tries will get past it. The drama alone and being more than 50 miles off-the-grid, said that $200 for a new starter and labor was a deal worth making.

On the other hand, here at the Break Café with Chaco while I wait for their call and read the paper on-line, staying off-the-grid this season until snowfall is tempting, if just to escape the news. I just read a long article which basically made the ultra-depressing case that even the recent horrific publicity of Bill Cosby, once a comedian, and Roger Ailes, once the Fox News hater-in-charge and power broker extraordinaire, being brought down below sea level over devastating charges of sexual harassment and worse in Cosby’s case, that there might be a blip where more women come forward, as they now have, to report sexual harassment on the job, but then it will be back to normal again.

Oh, my god, let’s be clear. Back to normal means sexual harassment on the job as one of the terms and conditions of employment for women. How can we pretend we are building a just society, and accept that such a circumstance is just part of being a woman and working?

And, why? Lawyers for women fighting sexual harassment and even experts at the EEOC were quoted essentially arguing that the act of going to court, whether justice won or denied, pretty much guarantees a woman future discrimination once they have stood up against such employer abuse and discrimination on their current job. Where once a judicial filing might have been lost in the weeds, one lawyer argued that now, a simple Google search by any interviewer or human resource person would immediately find chapter and verse on the woman and her complaint and she would be judged not a hero or a freedom fighter or a sister standing up for other sisters, but a “troublemaker,” and likely unemployable within the career of her choice.

Is there no protection for such secondary, secret discrimination? Rape victims in most communities are allowed their privacy and protection. Is this what we must now extend to women in order to bring peace and a semblance of equity to the workplace? And, if so, let’s get to work on it from the EEOC to the local courthouses, because this has to be stopped. None of us can allow our mothers, daughters, partners, or any woman to endure sexual harassment in order to make a living, nor can men agree to abide by such a condition, seeing, but silent, without permanent damage.

This needs to be stopped now!