But don't take *my* word for it U*Us. . .
Take the word of long time Montreal Unitarian U*U, and former President of the Unitarian Church of Montreal, John Inder in these words from the bio he posted to his sexual harassment consultancy website
I am lucky enough to have never been bullied
, but these issues have impacted my life because of
what they have done to several people I love. Having witnessed a stream
of media reports about sexual harassment, assault
, I was
- the mind boggling number of victims of
this behavior, most of whom who have yet to tell their story, and the
pain, the shame, the hit to self-esteem they face,
- the growing list of prestigious
institutions and reputable businesses who take a PR hit and seem to be flailing in the wind as to what to do about this toxic collection of
- the loss of productivity caused by the resulting distress – even the sad end of many careers of victims and perpetrators.
Everything I saw was about prosecutions and legal responses after
the fact. The talk was mostly about bringing perpetrators to justice.
Some consideration of offering support and therapy to victims was
alluded to on the side, at least when the talk was not actually
suspicious of the victims!
Then it hit me; I became aware of what I
wanted to see happen (in addition to victim support and application of the law
of course) – PREVENTION! Just as with issues of physical
security and mental health, we need to put some time toward prevention
This cannot be just a few paragraphs of wisdom on a piece of paper you
can hand out, or a policy that sits in a file. People within
organizations need to sit together, get informed, talk and think their
way through the issues, and prime themselves for how they want to respond when harassment issues arise
. And I mean sexual harassment issues; addressed head on
. We have to become able to talk about this
order to deflate the power of the taboos, the shame, and the denial.
Later, after reading hundreds of studies on – bullying, sexual
harassment, sexual violence, gendered identities, third wave feminism,
masculine identity crisis, bystanders to violence, physiological sex
differences, cognitive sex differences, adolescent sexuality, Canadian
law and human rights legislation, and the effects of sexual harassment,
– I was even more convinced that working with groups in a
positive pro-active way could have a real impact. I also recalled what I
had learned from the men’s movement of the 80s – that insulting and
ostracizing gays and lesbians was also a handy way to force people into
traditional gender roles. For men, this meant – keep up the tough facade
and be wary of emotions – something we do to our detriment.
The whole process of getting informed was
more interesting and empowering than I anticipated, despite the
heartbreaking nature of the subject. I hope you will work with me on
this. If we all get up to speed on this issue, we can change the culture
where we work and study, and keep everyone safer.