Re: Sexual Harassment - Fighting Fire with Fire

Re: Sexual Harassment - Fighting Fire with Fire
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I had some reluctance about writing this column because the following approach to stopping sexual harassment seems extreme, outrageous... but with the sickening and continued increase in revelations of sexual harassment and all the trauma that victims have endured for so long, perhaps it or something like it might work to stop this outrageous behavior. At the end, I will ask you what you think.

Because I have a sizable platform (450k+ Twitter followers, 10k+ linkedIn contacts, syndicated Business Journals column) and write, speak and intervene regarding a wide range of interpersonal issues, people occasionally approach me - with a number of them requesting anonymity - with off the wall ideas. I generally turn them down and usually warn people of the risk of acting on some of these ideas.

In my recent book, Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life (the Russian edition, and I’m not kidding, is entitled, How to Talk to A—holes, and has gone viral there), I wrote that words respond to words, actions respond to actions (i.e. consequences). The challenge is to make the consequence fit the action, too much is overkill and will have to be taken back, too little will be ineffective.

What do you think of the following consequence to the epidemic of sexual harassment? Overkill? Underkill? Or just right.

I told the source under promise of anonymity that I thought it was crazy, but also crazy smart.

What he/she told me was that mainly alpha, testosterone junkie men will not stop this behavior unless and until they experience what it’s like to be sexually harassed. They told me that the words from my book about “actions responding to actions not words” is what is necessary.

They told me that sexually harassed women (and men) often feel horrified, terrifyingly invaded and more often than not, just freeze in their tracks rather than scream or protest (which will be changing now that so many victims have come forth). Most of all they feel powerless against an unrelenting, hostile force.

They then said that these harassing men would need something to cause them to feel all of that especially the powerlessness, which by experiencing it themselves might give them the necessary empathy towards what their destructive behavior causes in others to cause them to stop it.

Here is what they proposed and asked me if I could point them to the following people.

  1. A billionaire, influential woman who is viscerally passionate about stoping this behavior in any way possible (Sheryl Sandberg?) who would pay $100 million to develop and deploy the following (and deal with all the illegal implications of it)
  2. A hacker who could create a pornography virus that both spontaneously identifies when a man is on a porn site and then spontaneously broadcasts that ”X (male) is currently watching Y (porn site)” to all his LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter contacts.

That does sound crazy? Or does it?

I mean isn’t that causing men who are likely to participate in sexual harassment to feel horrified and terrifyingly invaded? It certainly would give them a taste of feeling violated and humiliated and mortified... and paranoid (welcome to the world of the victims they have violated).

And what about the myriad of non-harassing, schlemiels who aren’t doing anything wrong except getting some relief from getting off?

I really don’t know what to make of it.

What do you think?

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