Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Did you know April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month? President Donald Trump declared April 2017 as the official month this year. Sexual assault was a topic that came up in the news many times over the past year and there are many resources that survivors might find helpful, but still 1 in 6 women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape. While people now know more about sexual assault and its frequency, the behavior has not changed to match the level of awareness that there is.
Takeaway: As a society we are all about raising awareness as if that’s a solution to problems. When the awareness is there, but the behavior has not changed, we need to look to taking the next steps. What more can we all do to make change happen?
Over the past few years, it seems like many high-profile figures have been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace. The most recent among these have been members of Fox News, Bill O’Reilly and previously, Roger Ailes. Fox news had stood by O’Reilly and reached five settlements before the most recent allegations came to light. When the public found out, advertisers withdrew from his show times and people protested how everything was being handled. The social stigma associated with O’Reilly from these allegations led to an agreed leaving from the Fox News Channel. He left with a settlement of $25 million.
So what is sexual harassment? Sexual harassment comes in many forms and it can be hard to pin down where the line is. It doesn’t just happen to women. And it doesn’t just happen at Fox. It happens in school and in the newest campaign with David Schwimmer, it looks like a lewd photographer, a handsy doctor, a smooth-talking politician and it happens every day. The campaign is hoping to push the conversation further and encourage people to speak out more against it.
Takeaway: While many of these accused men deny sexually harassing women and many people accuse the women of lying about it for a variety of reasons, it may be impossible to know the truth. The disbelief in the victims’ testimonies can be disheartening to any victims of sexual harassment who don’t report because they don’t think they will be believed. By having women bring these cases forward, we are starting to shape our culture in a way where harassment is not just “men being men” and still getting away with disrespecting women, and perhaps people are beginning to know what harassment is and truly believing that it needs to be stopped. The next step is speaking out every time that sexual harassment happens.
Women in the News
Women in the Workplace
When applying for jobs and working, there has long been a process for the way things work. There are certain questions that every place of employment seems to ask, such as the salary history, but that might be about to change. At least nine states are considering banning employers from asking what previous salaries are in order to fight the gender pay gap. The idea is that just because a woman has been paid less than men in a previous job, that underpaid amount should not be taken into account and continued just because of that previous job. It is unclear whether this will actually make difference and businesses argue that transparency would be more effective in fighting the gender wage gap.
Takeaway: As legal action is being taken to try to give specific directions businesses must take to stop the gender wage gap, it’s important to analyze the impact this makes. Is banning the salary history question effective and are there other ways to prevent people from being underpaid?
Women in Entertainment
The industry as a whole has become more vocal, as yet another actress has opened up about her experience with rape, sparking conversations about why many women don’t report sexual assault. And in other steps towards progress, Franchesca Ramsey became Comedy Central’s first black female host.
Takeaway: Because entertainment has such an influence on how we see the world, it’s important that the celebrities in the industry use their positions wisely. Instead of shying away from certain terminology, figures in the spotlight should continue to encourage open conversation and celebrate diversity.
Women in History
Journalist Claudia Kalb looked into the science of what makes a genius, researching what elevates someone from being intelligent to transforming history. But is there a reason why the majority of “geniuses” throughout history are men?
That’s not to say women don’t make history, as Peggy Whitson broke her record even further – by the end of the month, she had spent more cumulative hours in space than any other US astronaut and will be spending even more time on the ISS than originally planned.
Takeaway: It’s important to remember the strides women have taken in the past and continue to take today. One small step for an individual can mean a world of difference for woman-kind.
In Other News
- Advice for women dealing with “manterrupting” at work.
- The Harvard Men’s Soccer team rated the women’s team based on their physical appearances – they took action.
- The Women in the World Summit took place in April – find out why women were called to action.
- The first muslim woman judge, Sheila Abdus-Salaam, in the US was found dead in the Hudson River.
- Jeff Flake got schooled on Planned Parenthood by a teenager.
- #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear reveals the sexism in literature.
- The first woman to run the Boston Marathon marked the 50th anniversary by running it again.
- The US women’s hockey team battled for equality – and won.
- A lawyer hearing a rape case claimed women are good at lying because they’re the weaker sex.