The sexual harassment controversies of the last few weeks have ended careers, caused enormous suffering on one hand and finally given a voice to those who have suffered for so long on the other. There are no doubt many men concerned bout their actions from the past, hoping that their story does not come out.
I am reluctant to post about this because a knee jerk reaction is unhelpful and because I do not want to go along with the narrative that what we are dealing with here is a scandal. I am saddened by the abuse people have suffered, but I could only be scandalised if I was in some way surprised by it. I have spoken to too many young women, who have been leered at in the street by men, when they were walking home from school to be shocked by men behaving appallingly. I have also had too many conversations with women, whose mental health issues began with sexual abuse, to believe anything other than a huge number of women and many men have suffered sexual abuse and harassment at the hands of men and the suffering this has caused has been huge with a significant impact on many people's mental health.
My reluctance to tackle the subject in a blog, is that I do not wish to talk about the actions of a few people, as if they are extraordinarily different to everyone else around them. Not everyone uses their power to sexually harass others. Not every man is guilty of appalling behaviour. But those of us who are not shocked, have often been silent when others behaved badly. Our culture is steeped in the objectification of women and the accommodation of male power. It would be wonderful if recent events are about to bring a change to that. I suspect however that once a few men have lost their jobs and reputations, the press will move on and things will return to normal. For meaningful progress to happen our institutions and our culture need to change. The way men and women relate to each other, especially in the work place, but as importantly in schools, the way we police those who catcall from their cars, and the way men police themselves all need to change. Jesus suggested that the way men look at women and what goes on in their heads needed to change. The objectification of women, "looking upon a women with lust" was in itself the problem, 2000 years later we still need to see the person in front of us rather than an object that can meet our needs, especially when we are in positions of power.
This is not political correctness, but behaving in a way that treats every person with the respect they deserve. I suspect this blog adds little to the conversation that is taking place, and whatever valid points I may have made have been made more eloquently by others. But recent events have shown that we all need to speak out as best we can and so with reluctance I have added my thoughts.