Yesterday I learned some valuable lessons about sexual harassment. I posted a question about the wisdom of granting an actress a $9.5 million settlement in a case against some executives working on a TV series that runs on CBS. I suggested (unfortunately) that I likely would agree to be sexually harassed for that much money. I meant that to be a light touch. It was not. It was a punch in the face of women and I apologize for it.
The question correctly opened me for quite a bit of criticism, much of it from friends I respect. I was wrong in phrasing the question. I stand by asking the question (without the bad joke), however, because without questions, there are no answers and I learned a good bit about what harassment means to some people and just how prevalent it is. One woman talked about making sure her key was handy–as a weapon–every time she walks to her car, about living in a constant state of fear, day after day.
Others talked about not being able to do their jobs because of some idiot who didn’t know boundaries. Others talked of anxiety, of fear of losing their jobs if they resist, of feeling they have no choice.
I have been sexually harassed in the distant past by a superior at work and it was not comfortable. I found a way out. But it was never something I wanted or welcomed. It made me less effective at work and more prickly at home.
The one question I still have about the $9.5 million is not whether CBS can afford it, but about where that money comes from when it is paid to the actress. Will it come directly from the people responsible for the sexual harassment or will some some single mother in the makeup department, script girl, small-part actress, assistant to the assistant director or other person near the bottom be asked to give up her job or part of her salary in order to pay the settlement? If there is anything fair about that, I want to know what it is.
My point here–and part of my original point–is: who pays and if CBS pays, does it serve as a detriment to the individuals who are guilty of sexual harassment? Are the harassers like Trump’s minions acting out with the offer of a pardon for whatever they do? If not, what should be done to correct that situation?