Harvey Weinstein at the 70th Anniversary Dinner during the 70th Cannes Film Festival at the Port Canto on May 23, 2017 in Cannes, France. (Dave Bedrosian/Future-Image/Zuma Press/TNS)

Smith: How to end workplace sexual misconduct


Times Video’s “Ashley Judd Speaks with Times Journalists about Sexual Harassment: is calling everyone to step toward change to put an end to sexual violence.

By Alexandria Smith

Over the last couple months, allegations against Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly have surfaced accusing them of using their power in the workplace as sexual pressure. Last week, TimesVideo published a piece called “Ashley Judd Speaks with Times Journalists about Sexual Harassment.” In the video, journalists Emily Steel, Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey, and actor Judd discussed lengthy investigations of powerful men such as O’Reilly and Weinstein and how we can put an end to sexual harassment in all areas of life.

One way of bringing an end to it is having programs mentoring violence prevention in schools across America, Judd said. Many young boys don’t know what the word “consent” means when it comes to sex, she said. While it’s great that our youth has an awareness of these words, they don’t know what to do with the terminology they have been given. It is the responsibility of our current adult generation to teach the next.

We must learn from past mistakes that protected abusers. No more using confidentiality agreements to silence those who are being sexually abused just to save the richer, more powerful person’s name. In the piece, Judd noted that sexual harassment is sometimes not even about the sex at all but rather about an abuse of power. In agreement with Judd, Kantor said that as journalists, it is our job when we get up in the morning to hold the powerful accountable for their actions.

We are at a crucial time in history for women. Left and right, we are breaking barriers set in stone for ages. It is our time to take back the presumption that women are “slutty.” Our sexuality should be something that empowers us, not turns us into sexual objects to be had. Change needs to start with us, so that it can be taught to those who will come after us. I encourage everyone to stand up and speak out so that all can realize this is a national issue, happening everywhere around us. Not just taking place in the lives of the powerful people out in Hollywood or the drunk kids at college bars.

I hope that one day parents will not have to fear about their daughter taking an Uber home alone at night. I want women to know they got a job because of their intelligence and how hard they have worked, not because their boss sees their bodies as invitations. Change starts in your home, in your workplace, and in your city. Mentoring sexual-violence-prevention seminars could teach people how to help themselves and others, and hopefully stop the perpetrator from doing the act. Together, we can put an end to sexual violence.

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