As numerous revelations of sexual harassment and assault by powerful men have surfaced, SAFE’s Board Chair Michael Simons addressed the issue at the annual Gala on Nov. 4. He encouraged men to change the culture that condones sexual harassment and violence against women.
“I’m sure you’ve all heard the news is exploding with reports of rampant sexual harassment and assault in the film industry, government, and high tech…and those are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
The truth is, there is an aspect of American male culture that often objectifies women, and encourages and allows harassment, assault, and violence and the trafficking that we see that comes later.
As the father of two daughters, I feel that we as men need to step up. We need to recognize that the burden is on us to change the culture. Women should not feel that it is their burden to avoid harassment or assault.
As girls and women, how many of you could say “#Metoo”? It’s unfortunate and it’s something we need to change. I’m concerned that people have come to expect or at least accept a certain level of harassment. At times it’s offensive or uncomfortable. At times it advances to manipulation or exploitation. At times to all-out assault.
This is not to say that these things don’t happen to men as well, or women can’t be the perpetrator. The truth is it happens when one person feels power and they want to use that power to manipulate others to get what they want. But as men, we have to admit that today, the majority of the time, it is men harassing and assaulting women.
So gentlemen, I’m calling on you to help us change this culture. It is on us, not on the girls and women in our world, to stop what is happening. I challenge you to look at the businesses you run and lead, and ask the hard questions, and make the necessary changes inside your organizations. The culture will only change when all of us decide it has to change.
And if you need help, call SAFE. We’re happy to provide guidance through this process. Being true to our mission, we are at the forefront of this work to address sexual abuse, assault, and harassment.
Our mission calls for us to provide housing, healing, and support to those in crisis, but we also need to do all we can to prevent violence and abuse before it happens and to lead in making systemic changes in our community and beyond. Together we can change the culture, and create one where women and children are not victimized in the first place.”