Men have to do more!

I consider myself a lightweight feminist.  I haven’t been to any rallies or protested unequal treatment of women. But I have hired, mentored and valued female and male employees equally; I’ve always tried to be respectful to gender sensitivities; I’ve raised my daughter to be strong and independent and tried to teach and set a good example for my son.  In light of the Harvey [S]weinstein revelations, I give myself a “C” for effort.

The law calls it quid pro quo sexual harassment – meaning “something for something.”  When I was a new lawyer we called it “old school harassment” because we believed it was prevalent in past eras but that by the late 1990s men had evolved from Neanderthal ways and it just didn’t happen anymore.  I quickly learned I was wrong. Now, reading about all the famous, successful women who are making allegations against Sweinstein leads me to one of two conclusions. One, they’re making it up and piling on “me too” claims; or two, they all experienced the same abuse of power when they were at their most vulnerable and struggling to make it in a tough business.  Based on the cases I’ve seen, I believe it was the latter.

So, why do I get a “C” for my efforts? Because simply acting correctly and telling our sons to act correctly is only half of our responsibility.  Men, we have to pay attention and interfere when scumbags like Sweinstein abuse our wives, sisters, and daughters.  It’s obvious that during his lengthy predatory career his male co-workers, bosses, and “friends” knew the extent of his behavior but they stayed quiet for the same reasons the women did: Sweinstein was powerful and made other people lots of money.

I don’t like getting Cs and I am going to do better. The first step is to tell my son that being a good guy is not enough. He (and I) have to be heavyweight feminists when it comes to this behavior. We have to speak up. Most importantly, we have to be brave and do the right thing despite potential career consequences or financial risk.