As a father of 11 year old twin daughters, I’m concerned about male sexual misconduct in society. I want my girls to grow and thrive in an environment where they don’t have to worry about men at work making inappropriate advances. All women have the right to work and focus on the merits of their occupations without such behavior of men.
Over the past thousands of years male sexual misconduct and abuse of women was mainly acceptable by society. Fortunately in the United States women’s rights have evolved. Now it is illegal for men to sexually harass women. That has helped elevate equality of women in all industries except generally one — the entertainment industry. Male sexual misconduct with women in this industry has until recently largely remained impervious to protective laws because most women were afraid to report these behaviors. These abuses date back to the industry’s inception. The perception of men in power was if aspiring female actors were complicit with the men’s sexual advances, then the women’s careers would be enabled. If the women denied them, at the least these men would not assist; at the worst the men would actively “blackball” female actors from working.
This was no secret within and outside the industry. In Los Angeles in 2001, Hollywood & Highland installed the “Road to Hollywood” art piece which was commissioned by Los Angeles’ Community Redevelopment Agency. The quote “How some of us got here” twice repeats on the “road” which ends with a massive fiberglass daybed. Hollywood & Highland recently removed the daybed sculpture after public protest following the alleged Harvey Weinstein’s exploitations which reflects widespread awareness of present abuses in the entertainment industry. The New York Times recently revealed Louis C.K.’s abuses which he subsequently admitted in a letter in the same newspaper.
Harvey Weinstein Louis CK, Matt Lauer and similar men have the perception that their power and status affords them the ability to indulge their fantasies due to the halo effect. They have low Perceptual Intelligence (PI). PI is how we interpret our experiences to separate fantasy from reality. Weinstein and other men who don’t make the news believe their fantasy of sexually abusing women is acceptable because of who they are and their power (halo effect). The reality is there is no morale nor legal basis for this abuse of women, a position that reflect high PI .
For decades I have been an advocate for female empowerment and gender equality. When my wife Selina and I were married twenty four years ago, we took each other’s last names (the story is detailed in a Huffington Post article I wrote in 2015) to create “Boxer Wachler” which also makes me one of the few men the country with a maiden name. Aside from the implications in that article, my strong position on women’s rights have largely been known by family and friends. After the Weinstein story broke, I am now compelled to publicly speak about this topic. Abuse of women should never be tolerated under any circumstances. The law protects women from sexual harassment as well as those who blow the whistle on men who cross the line.
There has been much progress since the passage of the Married Women’s Property Acts in 1839 in the United States, before which a woman essentially had no rights under the law, legally existed via her husband, and always took her husband’s last name upon marriage. Great strides have occurred for women in schools and sports since the Title IX amendments were passed in 1972 which legally ended discrimination in part based on gender in schools and any education program that receives federal funding. In 2017 there is still much work to do for empowering women to have zero tolerance towards the less public Harvey Weinsteins of the world — the male teacher who has sexual contact with his female student, the male supervisor who threatens his female employee if she doesn’t acquiesce, the male sports coach who pressures his female athlete to satisfy his desire, and the list goes on.
I am now publicly engaged to help women not tolerate inappropriate and illegal behavior of men. I have been invited to speak to groups of women about this topic and how it concerns Perceptual Intelligence in both genders to help empower women. I recently spoke to a group of 200+ women at the EmpowHer event in Los Angeles.
It is time for other men to move from spectators on these sidelines to being actively engaged in this dialogue. It is also time for parents to discuss gender equality with their children — girls AND boys. Yes, boys too. All predatory men were boys at one stage. And if their parents discussed and educated them about respect for females when they were boys, then perhaps these abuses may have not occurred when they became grown men.
Now is the time for dialogue inside the family and in the community with women and girls to empower them against future misconduct. The media stories that make headlines on a daily basis is bringing unprecedented attention to this issue unlike has occurred in the past. This is helping women confidently decline and report unwanted advances in the workplace – that is empowering. That is the work environment in which my wife and I wish our daughters to experience when they are grown women.
Brian Boxer Wachler, M.D. is author of the recently released book Perceptual Intelligence.