I appreciated your article “The Tipping Point: Sexual Harassment Is Rampant in Local Restaurants,” in [Xpress’] June 6 edition. Thank you for shining a light on the additional challenge of sexual harassment that (primarily) women have to deal with in the already challenging hospitality business.
Despite that, there was one idea that I did not find helpful in a quote from one of the women you interviewed. Talking about potentially reporting a man who was making unwanted advances, she stated, “I’m not going to ruin that person‘s life: I don’t want them to not … have a job.“ This quote shows the negative power of victim-blaming: It causes the person who has been wronged to feel some responsibility for the other person’s actions. I don’t want to add to the blame or shame that this woman feels; however, it is worth speaking out in an attempt to decrease the victim-blaming part of this cycle, which allows sexual harassment and abuse to continue.
While the times are changing in a positive direction, I also understand that social structures can still make women feel powerless in these situations. I also understand that woman are often told that it is wrong for them to report such behavior and that it would be their fault if the person doing the harassing/abusing faces any negative consequences.
As a man myself, I want to put the message out there that a person’s behavior is that person’s responsibility. If a person does something wrong or illegal, it is not your fault if they go to jail or lose their job after you report their behavior. It is their fault for committing the crime in the first place.
If you do feel helpless, please know that is not true. There are people who can and will support you. I am not affiliated with Our VOICE, but they are one such source of support, and I know they help people. They can be reached 24 hours at 828-255-7576.
— James “Buck“ Schall