Breaking the Silence: the #MeToo Movement

Sexual harassment at workplace is a universal problem in the world whether it be a developed nation or a developing nation or an underdeveloped nation, atrocities and cruelties against women is common everywhere.

Today’s world is accustomed to the term Sexual harassment. Sexual Harassment can be identified as a behavior. It can in general terms be defined as an unwelcome behavior of sexual nature. Sexual harassment at workplace is a universal problem in the world whether it be a developed nation or a developing nation or an underdeveloped nation, atrocities and cruelties against women is common everywhere. It is a problem giving negative effect on both men and women. It is seen to be happening more with women gender as they are considered to be the most vulnerable section of the society these days. Sexual harassment therefore is a serious problem in the workplace and it has become one of those issues that receive a lot of negative attention.

 

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment has been identified as a term which is difficult to define as it involves a range of behaviors. Efforts have been made at both national and international levels to define this term effectively. often, the term is subjected to different interpretations. Some believe that it is better not to mingle with female colleagues so that one does not get embroiled in a sexual harassment complaint.

Sexual Harassment includes many things:

1. Actual or attempted rape or sexual assault.

2. Unwanted deliberate touching, leaning over, cornering or pinching.

3. Unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, remarks or questions.

4. Whistling at someone.

5. Kissing sounds, howling and smacking lips.

6. Touching an employee’s clothing, hair or body.

7. Touching or rubbing oneself sexually around another person.

 

Sexual harassment includes any one or more of the following unwelcome acts or behavior (whether directly or by implication) namely:

1. Physical contact and advances; or

2. A demand or request for sexual favors; or

3. Making sexually colored remarks; or

4. Showing pornography; or

5. Any other unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

Over the last several days, a number of women in India have called out influential men — actors, standup comics, senior journalists — for alleged sexual harassment. Some of these allegations relate to actions of then colleagues of the women. How does the law define sexual harassment at the workplace? A look at the guidelines for recognising sexual harassment, and the action employers are to take:

 

The #MeToo Movement

The Me Too movement (or #MeToo movement), with many local and international alternatives, is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault. The term gained momentum after actress Alyssa Milano encouraged those who have experienced sexual violence to come forward on social media standing together.

She wrote: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me Too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the problem. If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”

Since then thousands of people have responded, including celebrities

 #MeToo spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag used on social media in an attempt to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. It followed soon after the sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey WeinsteinTarana Burke, an American social activist and community organizer, began using the phrase “Me Too” as early as 2006, and the phrase was later popularized by American actress Alyssa Milano, on Twitter in 2017. Milano encouraged victims of sexual harassment to tweet about it and “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

Indian Women Share #MeToo Stories And Magnitude Of The Problem Will Shake You To The core.

 

Human rights and equality have progressed and matured slowly. In the progress, we had gained the civil and female suffrage. Moreover, another transformation recently springs up around the world. That is the Me Too movement.

The Me Too movement (or #Me Too) is a movement against sexual harassment and assault . #MeToo spread on social media in October 2017, and then it revealed the prevalence and magnitude of problems with sexual harassment and assault, especially in the workplace, including academia and medicine. Research showed that about 30% of women and 4% of men among U.S. academic medical faculty members reported experiencing sexual harassment. Other reported that 60% of medical trainees and students experienced harassment or discrimination during training. Moreover, this movement has led widespread discussion about how to stop problems with sexual abuse or harassment at work. The world no longer considers these issues to be solved by individuals.

There have been some barriers among these discussions or debates which should be overcome in the future. One of them is a vigilance movement to keep a distance from other gender. For example, some men have expressed the desire to keep a greater distance from women. Perhaps such a reaction is because they do not fully understand what actions is considered inappropriate or wrong. And it is more worrying that those responses seem to be reactive aggression behind it. Such a confrontation between genders does not help solve the problem with sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. Other is a wrong prejudice; when the problem with sexual harassment is accused, it is sometimes regarded as an accuser’s fault or evidence of social maladjustment. This misguided prejudice and atmosphere have kept victims in silence for a long time. Therefore, this wrong prejudice should be eliminated.

It was suggested that the #Me Too movement has shifted the norms surrounding sexual harassment in workplaces. One of them is the agreement that sexual harassment (not just sexual assault) constitutes a threat and is unacceptable in the workplace.

This recent transformation is not limited to sexual harassment and assault, but it should be expanded as follows: Discrimination or harassment based on gender, race, color, religion, national origin, gender orientation, gender identity, age, or disability will not be tolerated in anyone. We all have to act and participate to achieve the shift and change.

The point of sharing these stories is not to suggest that they’ve been especially unlucky, but rather to illustrate the run-of-the-mill kind of harassment that so many women experience as part of their professional lives. Whatever we may want to think, the data shows that women experience harassing behaviors at surprisingly high rates (these include everything from staring or leering and suggestive comments to unwanted touching). Data from the Youth Development Study (the largest survey of these issues undertaken to date) suggests that by age 31, 46% of women have experienced harassment of some kind. Not only that, but most experienced multiple incidents over a 12-month period. So how prevalent are these behaviors in scholarly publishing?

“This is not a fight between men and women. It’s a fight over whether a small subgroup of predatory men should be allowed to interfere with people’s ability to show up and do what they signed up for: work.”

 The #MeToo movement is changing how we’re talking about sexual harassment but we need a concentrated effort to get to a point where this behavior becomes far less commonplace and there is no fear or shame in speaking up..

We must also to be ready to act swiftly when needed. Individuals who engage in harassment should be disciplined appropriately and proportionately but so should managers who respond inadequately or overlook these behaviors. As we develop and assess our middle managers, let’s make sure that establishing a respectful team culture and dealing with complaints is a core part of that evaluation.

 

We also have a responsibility to pay particular attention to our most vulnerable employees. Those likely include our younger staff – especially those who interact significantly with authors, editors and vendors (studies show that most harassment doesn’t come from a boss, but from coworkers, customers and clients). Scholarly publishing is closely intertwined with academia, and there’s ample evidence (here and here) of the pervasiveness of sexual harassment across fields. Many junior and mid-level publishing roles work closely with academics and scientists, and building close relationships is an important success factor. Those are open to abuse and far less easy to report given the power dynamic at play. We need to ensure that our employees know that we will be behind them, no matter who the perpetrator is. And most importantly, we need to prepare them to navigate these issues – looking back on the first decade of my career I sorely wish that I’d received some guidance rather than forging my own path and learning from my mistakes.

Last but not least, I doubt that anyone in our industry sees harassment settlements as simply a cost of doing business and yet I’ve seen this happen more than once at organizations in which I’ve worked. For too long, we have chosen to pay off victims rather than deal with the perpetrators and that has to end. The choice to tolerate an abuser sends a visible, damaging message especially to young women building a career.

 

EMPOWERMENT FOR EMPLOYEES

While your managers and leaders have a very particular set of responsibilities, you too have a role to play in ending harassment. You can support co-workers who are targets and report unacceptable behavior, even if it’s not directed at you personally. And you can help to keep your managers and leaders accountable – if your organization doesn’t have appropriate policies and training in place, ask for them. Should you find yourself in the situation of being harassed, document what has happened and find a way to report it. If you’re uncomfortable with your organization’s policy or with talking to your manager or HR, talk to someone you trust. Above all, don’t let them get away with it.

 

DIRECT ACTION FOR MEN

This is an uncomfortable time for many men. While the majority of men are equally upset by this behavior, the reality is that for the most part, harassment is committed by men towards women. Men who harass in this way are typically emboldened by power and know that their behavior is wrong.

So how can men be allies in addressing this problem in the workplace? There have been a number of thoughtful pieces about how men can respond (such as here and here), but perhaps the most important thing that men can do is to break the “guy code” and speak out. Assuming that many men stay silent not because they think harassment is okay but because they’re not sure how to act. When you witness any kind of harassing behavior – or even just a sexist comment – don’t just look the other way or hope that someone else will deal with it. Call it out. Think about how you can challenge other men and not simply “rescue” women. And how you can develop allies with other men who are willing to speak out. Examine your own implicit biases and how they may impact your worldview.

Accept discomfort and keep listening. Conversations about discrimination and harassment won’t always feel good, but they are absolutely essential if we are to make lasting change.

Promote and hire women – diverse workplaces where women occupy leadership positions are less at risk for this kind of behavior.

Create space for and amplify women’s voices at work – sit back in meetings and let a woman ask the first question. If a woman is being ignored or interrupted, speak up to support her and create space.

“This is not a fight between men and women. It’s a fight over whether a small subgroup of predatory men should be allowed to interfere with people’s ability to show up and do what they signed up for: work.”

 

Like many, my hope it is that this is not just a moment but an actual tipping point that leads to lasting change. Scholarly communication, like every other industry, needs to name and own its problem in order to walk forward together to ensure that the world is better for the next generation of women.

It’s a pity on us and everyone that we can’t even provide safe workplace to women who fight equally as men to reach up there. I wish I  knew a single woman who in this #MeToo movement has said #NotMe . Just because someone isn-t speaking doesn’t mean they don’t have a @MeToo, we all have stories, some read them loud while some can’t. The big question still remains the same “Are we going to gain from these movements ?”, while some nerds feel this isn’t any good to the world, all I can feel and see around me is a change, the aroma of which is already around burning in fumes and rages. If not anything else, women know how they ought to be treated and men know how to treat us. Right ?

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Sonali Gupta

About the Author

Sonali Gupta

A Banker by profession, a Blogger and a content writer by passion, Sonali is a Gold medalist in Management as a post-graduate and an economics graduate. A painter and nature lover, she's passionate for art and photography. She finds peace and calmness in words inscribed on paper. She has written blogs, articles, newsletters, quotes, poetries ,stories, technical and financial content as a professional. Of all the things in the world, she likes to fall for a pen and paper each time because Writing is her favorite escape. She's a self motivated and a self driven person and loves to inspire and motivate people. She believes in 'doing what you love and loving what you do'.

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