Four years is a long time. In four years a child can grow from a newborn to school bound toddler; a college dropout can create a social network and amass a fortune of $1.5 billion; a tyrannical leader can gain the hearts of a poverty-stricken nation and turn it into a war machine.
In four years, a lot can happen.
Some may say this approach is melodramatic, and certainly many have pointed to the futility of ongoing protests over a month after the presidential election has passed. However, for organization Women and Allies and groups alike, four years of Mr. Trump has kept them aghast and active against the president elect and loud on the streets around the U.S.
Its been a busy week for those who, in acts of defiance throughout the country, have decided this week might be their last chance to change the nation’s four-year future. An emboldened crowd stormed the streets of New York on Monday in a last ditch attempt to get the attention of the electoral college and perhaps sway their votes uncharacteristically in favor of the popular vote winner, Hilary Clinton.
Clinton’s 2.8 million vote win over Trump is null and void because of the electoral system, something which as a foreigner, is baffling.
This nonsensical and outdated system has outraged not only me, but thousands of other women across the country and has charged a revolt seen on 5th avenue over the past month. This week, in a march organized by group Women and Allies, people took Monday off work and abandoned holiday shopping plans to roast the system and march on Trump Tower, where the future president spent his week meeting up with Silicon Valley hotshots from Facebook, Amazon and Apple, and the controversial musician Kanye West.
These meetings come at a time when other hotshots - celebrity hotshots, have come out with a plea message aligned with that of Women and Allies - for the electors to ‘vote their conscience.' Martin Sheen leads the way in the latest video from uniteforamerica.org calling on Republican electors to change their vote, of which Clinton needs only 37 to ‘change the course of history.’
Women and Allies, one of many organizations fighting against the old system, have been wielding swords in much of the opposition to Trump, perhaps most notably by raising money for causes he has spoken out vehemently against - such as Planned Parenthood and LGBTQA.
Droves of people came out for the march and other such protests for the past week, devoted to disrupting the normalization of Trump’s presidential-elect status. They come at a crucial time not only in terms of the electoral vote, but also in protest of Trump’s newly appointed cabinet, which many believe threatens the very core of American values.
"This protest wasn't just to get our voices out there before the electors vote, but it was also to show a strength in numbers - that united, the people are strong, to show solidarity."
- Isabella G
Signs read ‘electors save us’ and ‘no compromises on bigotry’ while chants of ‘LOVE TRUMPS HATE’ rang out through the packed and rambunctious crowd. Isabella, one of the march’s organizers, was optimistic about the affect of the disturbance on the day. Commenting on the mood, she says it was positive - that a feeling of unity pervaded the predominantly female crowd, united in defiance against the misogynistic prospect of Mr. Trump. The movement has not merely grown out of defiance, but out of fear. There is the deepening divide in ideologies between what’s right and what’s wrong in Trump’s America. For these protestors, Trump is on the cusp of bulldozing over the very democracy this country has spent hundreds of years struggling to create. The change about to come is the likes of which the U.S and the wider world - our generation at least - has never seen before.
While there might be no indicator as to whether the litany of marches this past week has had any effect on the prospective electoral vote, a very clear message has been sent to the president elect should he succeed in attaining office in January.
We shall not be moved.
The day after the inauguration in January, a march has been scheduled in Washington D.C for which 100,000’s of people have expressed interest in via social media channels. Buses from New York City and along much of the East coast are being arranged already and hotels are reporting almost full capacity in anticipation of the exodus to the capital to protest the new president and his promise to change the country from its current standing.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.