In a new hour-long special, "Sexual Harassment: A Moment of Reckoning," Weekend Edition Sunday host Lulu Garcia-Navarro takes a deep dive into a national conversation that is growing louder by the day. It's a conversation that has been fed by scandals that have implicated powerful people from the entertainment industry to the media — including NPR — raising the possibility that we're seeing the beginning of a cultural shift.
Part 1: The floodgates have opened. Why now? NPR correspondent Elizabeth Blair explores that question when she reaches back to another pivotal moment, when Anita Hill testified before a Senate committee in 1991 about her own workplace harassment.
Part 2: It's a men's issue. Men weigh in. Wade Hankin, a 25-year-old man from Seattle, launched a partner hashtag to #metoo — #ihave — in a post in which he admitted his own inappropriate actions involving women and encouraged other men to do so as well. Radio journalist Mary Beth Kirchner profiles Jackson Katz, an educator who has spent 27 years giving talks and workshops to boys and men on the dangers of "boys will be boys" attitudes.
Part 3: What's the line? Defining and handling workplace sexual harassment. Lin Farley, a journalist and author who helped popularize the term "sexual harassment" in the 1970s, shares the long view. Kaitlin Prest, host of The Heart podcast, and Cathy Young, contributing editor for Reason magazine — who wrote a recent Los Angeles Times column suggesting some offenders are being punished excessively — debate the definition. And human resources consultant Laurie Ruettimann explains how organizations address sexual misconduct.
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
From NPR News, I'm Lulu Garcia-Navarro with a special in-depth report on sexual harassment in America.
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GARCIA-NAVARRO: For many weeks, there's been an expanding national conversation about sexual harassment. It's a conversation that seems to grow louder by the day, fed by scandals that have implicated powerful people from the entertainment industry to the political arena - raising the possibility that we're seeing the beginning of a cultural shift.
On October 5, The New York Times pushed the topic into the spotlight when it published an expose about a Hollywood giant's predatory behavior over decades. Accusations against producer Harvey Weinstein ranged from harassment to intimidation to rape. He apologized and announced he was getting therapy. Within days, Weinstein was fired from the company he founded and resigned from its board. Harvey Weinstein, though, was not the first to be publicly accused. It's been just a little over a year since President Trump - then-candidate Trump - was caught on tape bragging about groping women and faced accusations of inappropriate behavior from several others. In recent weeks, the president continued to deny those allegations, even as similar charges engulfed other prominent figures in entertainment, politics, academia and the news media.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: All I can say is it's totally fake news - just fake. It's fake. It's made-up stuff. And...
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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: MSNBC suspended one of its top contributors, Mark Halperin...
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: New this morning - Kevin Spacey dropped by his talent agency and his publicist because of a growing list of sexual assault and sexual harassment accusations...
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #3: Yeah, NPR has a real problem here. Mike Oreskes was the head of news at the network for the past couple of years.
JARL MOHN, BYLINE: It was a terrible situation. I condemn his actions. They were unacceptable. They're deplorable.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That last voice was NPR's CEO Jarl Mohn explaining NPR's response to a sexual harassment scandal in our own house. In early November, former Senior Vice President of News Mike Oreskes stepped down after a series of allegations of sexual misconduct, allegations NPR is still investigating. The succession of allegations has prompted more women to tell their stories of mistreatment by men who had power over them. Some were famous actors, like Rose McGowan.
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ROSE MCGOWAN: I have been silenced for 20 years. I have been slut-shamed. I've been harassed. I've done been maligned. And you know what? I'm just like you.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Others were athletes. Swimmer Diana Nyad told her story of being sexually assaulted when she was 14.
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DIANA NYAD: After all the years of trying to prosecute my perpetrator, even though I had corroborators - there were other people who went through the same thing with the same coach, and we were quite credible witnesses - we couldn't break through the system. The swimming hall of fame and USA Swimming - they were a bunch of good old boys who protected this guy. And it's only one story. You know, it's the tip of that iceberg.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Our own Cokie Roberts recounted this story from her career covering politics.
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COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Well, there's a huge shift in the rhetoric. It's everywhere in the last few weeks, as you well know. People are ready to call out the act of harassment if not necessarily the harasser himself. That's a big difference from years and years of just putting up with it. I mean, we all have stories of being chased around desks, of having hands on our knees at correspondent dinners. And then Strom Thurmond, senator from South Carolina, was in the category of his own. He once kissed me on the mouth live on the air at a political convention.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So why do so many women feel empowered to come forward now? NPR's Elizabeth Blair explores that question. A note to listeners - this piece will include some graphic details.
ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Let's take a look at what happened to a woman who came forward at a time when people didn't talk about this stuff.
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JOE BIDEN: Committee will come to order. Welcome back, professor Hill.
BLAIR: In October 1991, all eyes were on a Senate hearing in Washington, as covered by ABC and NBC.
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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #4: And they will be continuing the attacks either on Thomas or on Hill. That drama will play out until 6 p.m.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #5: Anita Hill arrived in Washington under heavy police guard because of telephoned threats.
BLAIR: Anita Hill, an African-American law professor, went before an all-male panel. She testified that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her.
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ANITA HILL: His conversations were very vivid. He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films, involving such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes.
BLAIR: In response, senators grilled her.
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ALAN SIMPSON: Why in God's name would you ever speak to a man like that the rest of your life?
ARLEN SPECTER: How could you allow this kind of reprehensible conduct to go on right in the headquarters without doing something about it?
HOWELL HEFLIN: Are you a scorned woman?
BLAIR: Anita Hill kept her cool.
HILL: It was a very, very trying day.
BLAIR: Today Anita Hill teaches law, social policy and gender studies at Brandeis University. She says by asking questions like - why didn't you speak up? - they were answering them.
HILL: They were exhibiting the exact kind of behavior that keeps people from coming forward.
BLAIR: Shame, character assassinations - the episode took over Anita Hill's life. She was famously referred to as a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty. Years later, the author of that line apologized, saying it wasn't true. Crucially, there were three other women in Washington ready to testify to corroborate Hill's account. The Senate panel never called them. Anita Hill says, back then, sexual harassment wasn't taken seriously.
HILL: And you even had courts that - well, these are personal matters and not any matter that the law has any business dealing with.
NIOBE WAY: That could never happen now. Literally, that could never happen now.
BLAIR: Niobe Way teaches developmental psychology at New York University. She remembers watching the Anita Hill hearing.
WAY: Looking back on it, it sort of embarrasses me that I didn't see it as a larger issue that it was. I saw it as an issue, you know, true to that context and that Anita Hill was speaking her truth. But I didn't see it as a larger pattern.
BLAIR: While many people discredited Anita Hill, her testimony opened the window. Sexual harassment claims at the Equal Opportunity Employment Office doubled. Over time, awareness and coverage of sexual misconduct became part of the culture. Anita Hill.
HILL: Since 1991, we have been raising children - daughters in particular - with the understanding that sexual harassment is illegal and it shouldn't be tolerated and that it's wrong.
BLAIR: And more and more, we have scenes like this.
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GLORIA ALLRED: Thank you for coming today. I'm attorney Gloria Allred. Today I'm here with two new accusers of Bill Cosby.
BLAIR: Gloria Allred works on some of the most high-profile sexual misconduct cases in entertainment, the military, sports.
ALLRED: I like women to have access to justice.
BLAIR: Allred thinks the reason so many women are coming forward now is a kind of domino effect.
ALLRED: The more women speak out, the more other women want to speak out. And those who have, in their view, perpetrated wrongs against them now are facing accountability in the court of public opinion. The wrongdoers - or the alleged wrongdoers - have faced very serious consequences themselves.
BLAIR: Cosby, Bill O'Reilly, the late Roger Ailes, Harvey Weinstein - mighty figures continue to fall daily. Did their accusers speak out because of the reasons we've talked about - strength in numbers, greater awareness, consequences for perpetrators? Reporter Ronan Farrow, who covered Weinstein for the New Yorker, told NPR that there's another reason women are coming forward.
RONAN FARROW: A factor in their decision was that "he was less able to hurt them" was one exact quote that was used by one. And look, you've seen that in a number of cases about high-profile men recently - that allegations only emerge when their grip on power and success slips.
BLAIR: But most everyone I interviewed for this story says the real catalyst started with the infamous video released by The Washington Post last year.
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TRUMP: And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
BILLY BUSH: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the [expletive].
BLAIR: The "Access Hollywood" tape rankled a lot of women. During the presidential campaign, there were also allegations of sexual misconduct against Donald Trump.
JODI ENDA: Trump has reinvigorated feminism and the women's movement in a way that nothing has done for decades.
BLAIR: Journalist Jodi Enda points to the Women's March on Washington the day after President Trump's inauguration.
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ALICIA KEYS: Ladies and gentlemen, are we here?
BLAIR: The Women's March drew one of the largest crowds ever to Washington. Enda covered it for CNN.
ENDA: That was sort of the first inkling that we had that this really was something. Women were upset and - like the old movie - they weren't going to take it anymore.
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KEYS: Feet on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE: Feet on the ground.
KEYS: Not backing down.
UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE: Not backing down.
KEYS: (Singing) This girl is on fire.
BLAIR: But clearly, not every woman felt the same way. Forty-two percent voted for President Trump. It's also true that there are still plenty of women who don't feel safe coming forward. So is the fact that so many are speaking out now a true turning point? Niobe Way says no.
WAY: We don't address the problem, the deeper, deeper problem - not the superficial problem but the deeper problem.
BLAIR: That being how boys are raised, says Way. She's been looking at this for more than two decades. Her book is called "Deep Secrets: Boys' Friendships And The Crisis Of Connection."
WAY: We essentially raise boys in a culture that asks them to disconnect from their core humanity, which is their desire for relationships and all sorts of things that the boys articulate that they want - not only to disconnect from it but to say that if you are that way - if you're emotional, relational, etc., then you're not a man.
BLAIR: Way says that leads to a culture that accepts lonely and aggressive boys and ultimately puts them in positions of power. I ran this idea by some students at American University. Men and women alike nodded in agreement.
JEAN THOMPSON: The first thing that came to my mind was the whole boys will be boys thing.
BLAIR: Jean Thompson and Matt Goldan point to movies and TV shows that depict old stereotypes - "Superman," romantic comedies.
MATT GOLDAN: In the culture, you have a sense of toxic masculinity, where men are kind of expected to have bravado, to be a little bit more aggressive in, like, talking to...
THOMPSON: Pay for dinner.
GOLDAN: Pay for dinner - yeah.
GOLDAN: Absolutely. So right off the bat, you have a sense of very, very different roles. And I think it makes it easier for that whole messaging to get distorted in a way that could be conducive to, you know, sexual assault.
BLAIR: And not just sexual assault, says Niobe Way, but all kinds of violence. She says the culture continues to divide these problems as if their roots are different.
WAY: We look at mass violence, and we're all writing articles about mass violence. Then we have a rapist, and we're all writing articles about rape. Then we have an article about police violence, and we're focused on police violence - without understanding that there's a common root across those problems. If you raise boys to go against their nature, some of them will grow up and act crazy.
BLAIR: Meantime, allegations of sexual misconduct and consequences for many of the accused continue to rise. Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.
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GARCIA-NAVARRO: After the break, we'll hear from men about their behavior and how they're owning up to the moment.
WADE HANKIN: I was slapping and grabbing my two friends' behinds. And neither of them liked it, and I felt it was necessary to say something about it and say how sorry I am.
JACKSON KATZ: I'm trying to spark people, especially men, to go that next step instead of just sitting with it and saying - wow, that's messed up. I didn't realize how bad it was. It's like, OK. Fine. What are you going to do about it?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm Lulu Garcia-Navarro. Stay with us for more of NPR's special broadcast "Sexual Harassment: A Moment of Reckoning."
I'm Lulu Garcia-Navarro. We continue now with NPR's special broadcast about sexual harassment.
MEGAN NOBERT: #MeToo - more times than I can count in the workplace, at school, on the street, in places I should have been able to feel safe.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Canadian Megan Nobert on the hashtag that has now gone global. This fall, the #MeToo hashtag was born, fueled by the outing of Harvey Weinstein and allegations of sexual assault and harassment over decades.
HALEY EPEMA: Here, my tweet is - (reading) because this is the hardest thing I've ever tweeted - #MeToo.
TRILLIA NEWBELL: #MeToo. The amount of shame and shaming around sexual assault is terrible.
ABBY LEE CHARBONNEAU: How many generations of women have endured the same feelings across the world, across time and history?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Haley Epema (ph) from Michigan, Trillia Newbell (ph) of Tennessee, Abby Lee Charbonneau (ph) in Maine - reading their #MeToo tweets. The tweets, mostly from women - but also some men - condensed some of their most traumatic moments into 140 characters.
We wanted to hear from men, too, about how they view this discussion about sexual harassment. After all, it's also a men's issue. Wade Hankin is a 25-year-old from Seattle Washington. He says he's thought deeply about issues of consent. He was raised by a feminist mom, he tells us, and was surrounded by strong women he loved and respected. So he was shocked when a friend told him about a line Wade may have crossed. When the #MeToo hashtag picked up steam this fall, he posted on Facebook the words #IHave.
HANKIN: I was at a party about four years ago, a Halloween party. I was blacked-out - drunk - alcohol. And I was slapping and grabbing my two friends' behinds. And neither of them liked it. I was recently told this a couple weeks ago by my friend who I was living with at the time. And I felt it was necessary to say something about it and say how sorry I am.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You didn't remember?
HANKIN: No, I don't - I still - to this - right now don't remember doing it.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: One of the things we're trying to explore is - what are the lines when we're talking about sexual harassment? On the one hand, obviously, you have the egregious, terrible alleged behavior of Harvey Weinstein. What line do you think needs to be drawn? What is appropriate or inappropriate behavior?
HANKIN: I think any line where the other person is uncomfortable or feeling like they're being harassed or assaulted, that's the line for me.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You used social media, as you mentioned, to talk about this using the hashtag #IHave. The fact that you came out publicly to talk about this is really quite unusual. You're using your name in this interview. Can you talk about why you felt that was important?
HANKIN: I feel like putting the name to something really adds a lot of weight to the words, to the actions. And there are two sides to this whole scenario of sexual harassment and sexual assault. And we only ever hear women's allegations, women saying what has happened to them. And if there's any word from a man, it's deny. It's suing. It's I never did this. It's I am not an abuser. This is not who I am. It's never this is what I've done. I am so sorry. It's never taking responsibility for actions.
And until that happens, there will be no change, and there's no way we're ever going to get through this. The world would be a better place if people take responsibility for what they've done, say they're sorry, try to make amends and, like, become better people out of it.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wade Hankin, thank you very much for sharing your story.
HANKIN: You're very welcome.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wade Hankin's #IHave campaign has not ignited a movement of men outing their bad behavior - at least not yet - not in the way the #MeToo hashtag has done for women.
Independent producer Mary Beth Kirchner recently spent time with a man who's spent his career trying to stamp out the boys will be boys culture. He says it's time for both men and women to step up expectations of how men behave.
MARY BETH KIRCHNER: Have you been to Lancaster before?
KATZ: I have. I don't think I've been to this college.
KIRCHNER: It's a dark fall night, and I'm driving through the back streets in Lancaster, Pa. I'm with Jackson Katz, who's on his way to give a talk at Millersville University on issues of sexual assault and harassment.
KATZ: The week before, I was in San Francisco. Before that, I was in Michigan. The week before that, I was in - goodness knows - where was I?
KIRCHNER: Katz says he's done over 2,600 talks and training sessions over the last 30 years - 2,600.
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KATZ: I'm going to share with you a paradigm-shifting perspective on the issues of gender violence - sexual assault, domestic violence, relationship abuse, sexual harassment. They've been seen as women's issues that some good men help out with. In fact, I'm going to argue that these are men's issues first and foremost. Now, obviously...
KIRCHNER: That's Jackson Katz's TED Talk from 2013. He's done workshops and training sessions with countless colleges, all branches of the military, professional sports teams in the NBA and the NFL. After decades of doing this work, in recent weeks, he's seen a significant cultural historical shift.
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KATZ: The potential here is incredible and unprecedented. So in the midst of this darkness, if you will, there is, you know, flickers of light. I'm trying to spark people, especially men, to go that next step. Instead of just sitting with it and saying - wow, that's messed up. I didn't realize how bad it was. It's like, OK. Fine. What are you going to do about it?
KIRCHNER: Katz takes pride in articulating the kinds of ideas that leave most women thinking - I've never heard a man talk like that before.
KATZ: Women have come so much further than men have. And I think part of what we're seeing play out in all these dramas in the workplace and in the college campuses is the disconnect between how women have advanced in terms of being taught to assert their own dignity, if you will, and how men haven't been taught enough, if you will, how to get up to speed with those changes.
KIRCHNER: It's a message that some see as anti-male. But he says it's anti-male not to say these things.
KATZ: So the number of women coming forward participating in the #MeToo hashtag or other forms of self-disclosure has been, like, totally unprecedented. And I think some of those women who are today typing in this is what happened to me, in a sense, are speaking for billions of women who have lived throughout history who have never had a voice, who have never had a forum, who have never been able to tell their stories.
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KIRCHNER: Jackson Katz is an unexpected messenger straight out of jock culture.
KATZ: I was the co-MVP of my high school football team. I was an All-Star football player.
KIRCHNER: Then, as a 19-year-old college freshman at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, things took a turn.
KATZ: I was living in a coed dorm - coed by room, so my next-door neighbors were women. And I remember, being a young guy, really enjoying my freedom to come and go as I please away from home.
KIRCHNER: Which wasn't true of women on his floor.
KATZ: Always being aware of where they are, how they're going to get home - rides home, buddy system, all that kind of stuff. And then...
KIRCHNER: Then, there were multiple rapes in campus parking lots. Katz was writing for the school paper, covering a rally demanding improved outdoor lighting.
KATZ: Yeah. And I remember thinking not that these women hate men or somehow - I didn't feel defensive in the face of their righteous indignation. I felt inspired. I admired it. But then, I remember thinking subsequently - where are the men? Why is it all women out there?
KIRCHNER: And so he wrote a column called "A Man Can Only Imagine."
KATZ: A man can only imagine what it would feel like to be a woman and have to worry constantly about your personal safety and not have the freedom of movement that most of us men take for granted.
KIRCHNER: Not long after, Katz became an activist and the first male student with a minor in women's studies.
KATZ: I got that there was some interest there. And some people weren't quite sure what to make of me (laughter).
KIRCHNER: Thirty years later, that still rings true. He's still got that fooled-you look in his eyes and a football belt. Now he has a master's from Harvard and a Ph.D. from UCLA. He's written several books, but he can still talk the talk.
KATZ: You'll hear some ignorant people say things like, well, what are you saying? You can't even tell a joke, you know, a joke about women, or you're a rapist? Of course, nobody would ever say such a stupid thing. But that's the kind of pushback you get from people who don't want to think introspectively. Like, it's so predictable what men will say.
KIRCHNER: Katz sees himself playing an important role, simply helping men see how women experience the world.
KATZ: I talk about how many women expect when they go to a party - like a college campus, or they go to a bar or a club - they expect many of them guys to grab their bodies as they walk by. It's, like, a completely normalized behavior. They don't like it, but they just are resigned to that's just the way it is. And a lot of guys - they don't think, I'm going to go out and commit a sexual assault tonight. They're just thinking what they're doing is cool or fun, or they're entitled to it. They're not thinking about it like they're committing a crime. But, in fact, they are. But it's become so normalized that it's not seen as a crime. And so then we have to say, are we saying that, you know, rape is really bad, but men grabbing women's bodies as they walk by isn't really bad, or there's no relationship between the two? I mean, who are we kidding?
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KATZ: Good evening.
UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE: Good evening.
KATZ: Let me say I assume that there is a variety of reasons why people are in this room - that some people are here because some form of subtle coercion was employed to get you in the room.
KIRCHNER: So tonight at Millersville University, Jackson Katz stands before a packed audience of about 400 young men and women, most from small towns around Pennsylvania. You can feel they're a little on edge about where tonight's conversation might take them.
KATZ: And let me just say it doesn't matter to me why you're here - whether you came of your own volition, or somebody kind of muscled you in here. It doesn't really matter to me. It's good that you're here.
KIRCHNER: Katz begins with an introduction crediting decades of women's leadership.
KATZ: Sexual assault. Men have been sexually assaulting women, men and other - and children for thousands of years - not decades, thousands of years. But it wasn't until the 1970s - there was such thing as a rape crisis center, that there were 800 numbers for victims and survivors to call.
KIRCHNER: But he wants to interact with the audience. So he sets up two large, white easels, takes a black marker and draws the symbol for male on one side and female on the other. And the school's Title IX coordinator offers to take notes.
KATZ: So I have a question to begin with just for the men. What steps do you take every day on a regular basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? And Jayme's going to write those on the men's side. So what kind of things do you do on a regular basis to prevent yourself from being sexually assaulted?
KIRCHNER: Katz says he often gets a look from the men like, is this a trick question?
KATZ: All right. I think - Jayme, I think you're OK there.
KIRCHNER: The men's easel stays blank. He says zero response is typical.
KATZ: So now I have a question just for the women. Just the women - what steps do you take every day or on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted?
KIRCHNER: At least 30 hands shoot up.
KATZ: I'll call on you, and Jayme will do her best to write these down on the women's side. Yes?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: I carry pepper spray.
KATZ: OK. Carry pepper spray.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: I'll wear, like, specific clothing.
KATZ: You said wear specific clothing? Try not to show skin?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Yeah.
KATZ: I'll get everybody that has your hand up. Believe me.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: Walk with your keys between your fingers.
KATZ: Walk with your keys between your fingers. For what purpose?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: If someone tries to grab you, you can...
KATZ: So OK. Hold your keys as a potential weapon. How many women here hold your keys as a potential weapon?
KIRCHNER: Probably a hundred hands go up. The comments are coming so fast, I barely get there with my microphone.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: Avoid eye contact.
KATZ: Avoid eye contact.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: Pretty much just men.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #5: Park closer to wherever I'm going.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #6: I have worn shoes with the motive that if I had to run, I would be fast in these shoes.
KATZ: Yeah. Yes?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #7: Going to a self-defense class.
KATZ: Take a self-defense class.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #8: I don't put down my drink.
KATZ: Don't put down your drink at a party or...
KIRCHNER: As the list gets longer, the men next to these women are quietly listening, riveted, sheepish and surprised.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #9: Even when I'm with people, like, night or daytime, I always look back when I walk.
KATZ: Look back when you're walking, nighttime or daytime, to see who's behind you or see - OK. OK.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #10: If I'm walking on one side of the street, and there's a man coming my way at night, I will cross to the other side.
KIRCHNER: Katz says the conversation typically goes on for a half hour or more. I don't go jogging at night. I don't use parking garages. I close and lock my bedroom window even on hot summer nights. It's like an unconscious mental checklist. In rural, urban or suburban settings, he says it's always the same. And by the time all the hands go down, there's barely any white space on the easel. This is part of what Katz calls...
KATZ: Remedial empathy exercises because we have such a lack of empathy in so much of the mainstream male culture.
I - if you don't remember anything else that I've said, remember how unfair this is if you look at this board, especially with men. Just think about how you would feel if you were a woman, right?
In our society at this point in history, that's a bit of a revolutionary act - to teach boys that part of being a man is treating girls and women with respect fundamentally and, beyond how they treat individual girls and women, challenging and interrupting other men and boys who are acting in ways that are contrary to that. We expect more than you just being a good guy, treating women with respect and dignity. You need to speak up when you see others around you not doing that. And that's - honestly, that's the hardest lift.
It's incredible how many guys remain silent in the face of this stuff - good guys who see behavior they know is wrong. And they don't say anything. They don't do anything. So I think we have to understand...
KIRCHNER: Now almost 90 minutes into his talk, close to ending, and he's still impassioned, red-faced and breathing hard, even after all these years.
KATZ: I think it's important that men take some risks and stand up and say some of the things that I've been saying and not just privately support women and start standing up publicly and challenging other men and speaking out and not allowing it to be just women who are speaking out. And men just kind of quietly, like, you know, I'm done with that. We need so much more from men than that. Don't you think?
KIRCHNER: Katz says some of the men appear taken aback or defensive, while others are welcoming.
KATZ: If we're waiting for men to be perfect, if we're waiting for men to be perfectly unsexist (ph) to be leaders and to be mentors, we're never going to get anywhere. You don't have to be perfect. You know, as a man - I don't say this to my son. I don't say, I've got it all figured out. I'm still figuring it out myself. You just have to be willing to be honest and vulnerable but also be firm and direct. Like, there's a certain expectation I have of you. We talked about this with our son. There's a certain expectation we have of you. We expect you to treat girls and women with full respect - period, end of sentence.
So I hope nobody thinks that what I'm saying or anybody doing this work is saying that we don't want men to be strong. It's more an expanded definition of strength. Chest bumping, domination as the only definition of strength is embarrassing to me as a man. We have to hold ourselves to higher standards.
KIRCHNER: There's a long line of students before he leaves, mostly women - a few men - with questions and thanks and stories. Jackson Katz says on occasion, young men will come up and simply shake his hand and say nothing. Or he'll spot a guy off to the side, waiting until he's alone with Katz to share his experience quietly.
KATZ: Sometimes, I will say, you know what, guys? It doesn't really matter to me what you say as you walk out the door to your buddies. What I really want to think about is when you're alone tonight, when you lie down, you know, to go to sleep, and you're by yourself. And if you give yourself a moment to reflect on what you heard tonight, that to me is more important because you're going to actually be hopefully having an honest moment of reflection. And that to me is what I'm hoping to contribute to.
KIRCHNER: When the auditorium finally empties, Katz is spent. Yet even after 2,600 other talks, he seems to genuinely wonder about his impact just tonight.
KATZ: I mean, I don't have illusions. It's you know, one moment. But there could be people in here who've never heard a man say the things that I said. I know that - women who have never heard a man say these things with any passion. They might've heard men mouth some of these things about, you know, believing in equality. But a lot of women, I guarantee you, have never heard a man say the things that I've said the way that I said them. So I think, partly, it's not just what I'm saying. It's the - I'm communicating what it means to be a person of integrity or a man of integrity. I think this is what I'm doing. And I think that both women and men have their own way of understanding that.
KIRCHNER: For NPR News, I'm Mary Beth Kirchner.
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GARCIA-NAVARRO: Coming up in the final segment of our special broadcast about sexual harassment, we try to understand boundaries, what counts as sexual harassment and what's appropriate - also how to handle harassment at work. We hear from an HR specialist, and we meet the woman who popularized the term sexual harassment back in 1975. Stay with us. This is NPR News.
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GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm Lulu Garcia-Navarro with a special broadcast from NPR News. This hour, we've been taking a deep dive into the national conversation about sexual harassment. Over the past year, the floodgates have opened with story after story of women publicly sharing their experiences about what they've endured in the workplace.
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LEEANN TWEEDEN: He puts his hand on the back of my neck, and he comes in so fast. And he just sort of - you know, it's like that - you know, there was no finesse to it at all. Let's put it that way. And he just mashes his mouth to my lips. You know, it was, like, wet. And he puts his tongue in my mouth.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was radio broadcaster Leeann Tweeden sharing her story on CNN, accusing Minnesota Senator Al Franken of groping and forcibly kissing her while in Afghanistan for a USO tour.
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TWEEDEN: And, you know, my reaction - it was just sort of a - you know, I push his chest away with my hands. And I'm like, if you ever do that to me again - I was so angry.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: NPR has been in the news, too, this fall. Michael Oreskes, senior vice president for news, stepped down after numerous allegations surfaced that he had harassed women in years past when he worked at The New York Times and The Associated Press. There were accusations of similar misbehavior by Oreskes against women in our newsroom. Such vocal outrage from women or such consequences for the perpetrators has not always been the norm.
Lin Farley popularized the term sexual harassment. It was April 1975 during a New York City Human Rights Commission hearing about women in the workplace. Farley testified. The New York Times covered it. Readers saw a term that had, until then, been academic or restricted to feminist circles. And thus, Farley says, a concept was born. Lin Farley joins me from Santa Fe, N.M., where she's retired after a career as an author and a journalist.
LIN FARLEY: Hi. Nice to be here.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: It has been over four decades since you introduced this term to the United States. And I think as a nation, we're still trying to understand what it means, which is extraordinary. What are your thoughts, having seen everything that's been happening since these stories have broken?
FARLEY: Well, I think it's amazing. I think I do have the long view. And what I am now beginning to think is sexual harassment seems to come and go in the public consciousness in waves. So we had the first round in '75. And then when my book came out in 1978, there was a huge kind of response. And then there have been more waves with court suits and then Anita Hill. And then now we have this wave with the whole Roger Ailes and O'Reilly and Weinstein. We do see something different, I think, this time. And that is we're seeing, particularly with Weinstein, a harasser be pillared. And the reason that we're seeing this whole upsurge of activity is because of a harasser, not a victim. And I think that is a big step forward.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And more significant, possibly?
FARLEY: I don't know about more significant. I think it's a big step forward. In terms of stopping it, I'm not sure. This upswell of an outpouring has to be translated into concrete action. And that's where I think the next step has to come.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What is that next step, in your view?
FARLEY: Well, I think the next step is we need gender parity in the workplace in terms of positions of authority. We need men and women in equal numbers in positions of authority. Until - you know, you have mostly female subordinates going to male overseers, be it managers or supervisors or owners. You're going to see sexual harassment. And so far, men have been able to get away with it pretty much with impunity, so that even huge court settlements - we're not seeing it translated into real, genuine change in the workplace. And, again, I think it's because we have to have women in positions of authority. Otherwise, nothing's going to change.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: One of the things that there's been a lot of debate about after all these revelations and accusations is that, on the one hand, you have the Harvey Weinstein's criminal behavior, rape, allegedly. But where's the line? People ask, is an uncomfortable glance in an elevator, is an inappropriate comment in a meeting - you know, what constitutes sexual harassment, and what should be punishable?
FARLEY: I think when it's unwanted, it's sexual harassment. You know, millions of women in the workplace quit their jobs because of some form of harassment that takes just the verbal form, you know? Come on, honey. You know, all kinds of sexual innuendo and sexual statements are part of sexual harassment. But it also goes up to and including demands. You know, let's go out, and I'll get a hotel at lunch. And if the woman says no, she's out the door. We need to really hear the specifics.
And as a society, we're very reluctant to do that because when you hear the details, you cannot any longer dismiss sexual harassment as just some kind of not very serious problem for women who are making a big deal out of nothing. And I think you still see that kind of attitude in the workplace by men. Oh, come on. You know, she's just making a mountain out of a molehill. No. When you hear the specifics, she's not making a mountain out of a molehill. She's talking about serious problems to her ability to do her job. And that's what we have to focus on.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Lin Farley, author and journalist. Thank you so very much.
FARLEY: You're welcome.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: One of the hardest things about this discussion about sexual harassment and assault is how difficult it is to agree on a definition of what is inappropriate. What is the line when it comes to consent? We spoke with two women who've done a lot of thinking and writing about these gray areas. Kaitlin Prest is the host of The Heart, a podcast on Radiotopia that explores sex, love and relationships. Cathy Young is a contributing editor for Reason magazine and a columnist for Newsday. Cathy wrote an op-ed in the LA Times where she said she was concerned that in the current climate, people might lose their jobs over what she calls minor misconduct and ambiguous transgressions.
CATHY YOUNG: You know, obviously, I think we can all get behind people like Harvey Weinstein or Mark Halperin being exposed for apparent, very, very serious misconduct toward subordinates and co-workers. But I think some of the other incidents that we've seen - you know, one incident that I mentioned, for instance, was Roy Price, the person at Amazon who had to step down over what was essentially one sort of instance of a drunken overture to somebody while they were at Comic-Con, which is this very unregulated, very kind of let-your-hair-down environment where everyone was intoxicated. You know, it may not be admirable conduct. But at the same time, I really don't think that that sort of thing, where there was no hint of retaliation, no hint of, you know, him exploiting status to coerce sexual contact, should be treated the same as these people who are engaging in clearly criminal conduct.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Kaitlin, I want to bring you into the conversation. Does it - this is clearly a moment when women are having to address a very real problem? Should we be concerned about taking it too far?
KAITLIN PREST: Yeah, no. I don't think that we should (laughter). I don't think that we need to be concerned about taking it too far. Even something as minor - seemingly minor - as going into a meeting and having somebody who is in a position of power over you glance down at your breasts every few moments or asking if you want to go out to your boss's beach house and have a glass of wine or, you know...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And the beach house and the glass of wine was obviously alleged to have happened between Michael Oreskes, the former vice president for news of NPR, and a young woman. So yes. Please continue.
PREST: Yeah. You know, like, so these types of things - there's an entire spectrum of inappropriate behavior that happens. And especially when you take that into the workplace, those seemingly innocuous behaviors are - those are micro-aggressions. Those are the small things that chip away at someone's feeling of professional value in the workplace. Those are the small things that contribute to a woman feeling like the only reason why she's here is because boss man likes to look at her breasts. That doesn't feel good as a professional in a workplace. And I think that also, you know, something as simple as - I heard a story about somebody who - you know, it was, like, an innocent hug, a celebratory hug. And there is such a thing as a hug that was totally appropriate.
But I think that we're so far away from understanding what consent means that, you know, I think that, actually, it's much better safe than sorry, especially when it comes to the workplace, where there's an inherent power dynamic as soon as you walk through the door. And consent and the ability to give consent is very connected to power and who has more power and who has less and who will silence themselves to secure the positive feeling from somebody. You know, like, you want your boss to like you. So you're - you feel like you have to say yes to everything. They ask you to go out for drinks after work. You say yes automatically because you want this person's favor.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So, Cathy, jump in. I mean, what...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What do you see? I mean, clearly, we're talking about work, and we have power differentials there.
YOUNG: So yeah. Well, obviously, there are very real power differentials in the workplace. And yeah. I think, absolutely, it is appropriate to say to people who are in a position of power, you know, think about the way that your actions affect your subordinates. I think that's absolutely appropriate. That said, I mean, I'm really, really concerned about this mindset that, you know, we have to constantly police for, you know, micro-aggressions, which - you know, a lot of that is defined very subjectively. A lot of that is sort of in the eye of the beholder. When we mention something like, you know, looking down at a woman's breast, I mean, this can be something where - you know, this is something that can be very easily misinterpreted - I mean, the direction of a person's eyes.
YOUNG: And I really think there is a danger in encouraging people to be sort of so hypersensitive to their comfort level that, you know, there may be a tendency to see sort of offenses where none exist. And, you know, in terms of the ability to understand consent, I mean, I may come - and I suspect that I come from a very different perspective generally than Kaitlin does. I mean, I don't think most people really have that much trouble understanding consent. And I think, you know, genuine miscommunications and genuine mixed signals really do happen.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Kaitlin, you produced a whole mini-series for your podcast called No, where you talk about how to negotiate consent.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Cathy's saying consent isn't hard to understand.
PREST: Yeah. I don't - I just - I wholeheartedly disagree. And I will agree with you, Cathy, and say that I do think the question of what accountability looks like is a huge question that we need to be asking right now and a really, really important question that I don't think we have the answer to at all. But I don't - I'm so happy to be in this moment right now. And I think that it's so important that people are investigating their behavior for the first time. Like, this is the first time where you're hearing people who have perpetrated that type of harassment actually investigating their behavior. And I don't think there's anything wrong with people feeling some shame, looking within and, like, you know, making a list of all of the times that they have maybe crossed someone's line. I don't think that we're overreacting. I think that this is so important. And I think that, in a way, yes, there's something a bit - there is something a little bit scary about how quickly people are being snuffed out at work. And there is some questions to be asked about having them be blacklisted professionally for the rest of their lives. Is it really - is that really warranted? But I also think that the pendulum needs to swing a little bit farther into this extreme before we can get back to the middle.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Kaitlin Prest, host of The Heart podcast, and Cathy Young, contributing editor for Reason magazine.
I'm joined now by Laurie Ruettimann, a human resources consultant who has written extensively about harassment in the workplace. Thanks so much for joining us.
LAURIE RUETTIMANN: You're welcome. I'm happy to be here.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So my colleague Scott Simon spoke with you in the aftermath of the first accusations against Weinstein. You said at that point that you weren't optimistic that this would lead to a sea change, but we've seen so many other reports happening now. Do you feel any differently?
RUETTIMANN: Well, I'm conflicted. I think there's a cultural moment happening right now around storytelling. Women are telling stories on social media, in communities. And I think as a whole, in society, we're getting better at listening to one another. Women are being heard. So in some ways, I'd like to be hopeful. But, you know, Lulu, I'm also worried that we'll be burnt out by all of these stories. As the stories turn darker, I worry that inertia will kick in.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: As you know, NPR ousted the head of its newsroom, Mike Oreskes, over allegations of sexual misconduct. But I'd like to focus on what you can do to prevent things from happening in an organization. You know, there were stories about his conduct that were swirling among women in the newsroom since a few weeks after he started. It took more than two years, though, in outside reporting before he was forced to resign. Is there a way that organizations can be proactive in looking into rumors and gossip and this storytelling that we're doing now? They are often signaling that something is very wrong.
RUETTIMANN: Yeah. Well, first of all, I'm very - I'm very, very sorry that that's happened. There are things organizations can do to circumvent human resources. So, for example, when supervisors and managers hear office gossip, they don't have to go to HR. They can act on it. They can ask questions. It shouldn't take outside reporting or inside reporting or two years of any kind to discover what's happening within your organization. So I think if you hear gossip, whether you're in human resources or just a supervisor, it's time to follow up.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And what does that look like when you say follow up?
RUETTIMANN: Well, what do we do when we hear things that are weird and are personal in private lives? We start to ask questions, and that's really the nature of what's happening with storytelling. So people are telling stories. And then it's up to us to listen and then ask earnest, simple questions to try to get at what's being communicated - not necessarily what's the truth at that moment but just a first-level, basic understanding of active listening, just drilling down to really truly understand what the person is trying to say.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Some people make a distinction between what is legally wrong and what is wrong for the culture of an organization. Do you see that distinction? Should there be that distinction?
RUETTIMANN: Well, you know, I do see the distinction. And I see people trying to parse out almost a spectrum of behaviors. So at one end is harassment and abuse that's physical in nature, and at the other end are just, you know, comments that are based on where you sit in the org chart and depending on who you are and where you are and the power dynamic. People try to explain certain behaviors away. You know, I think right now what we're seeing is individuals who are in positions of power putting their needs - their personal needs - in front of the needs of those people who work with them in the organization.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What should companies do, though? I mean, if you know that harassment's going on - you're a manager - you've heard rumors. I mean, what does it look like?
RUETTIMANN: So there's currently some thought that HR should be an outsourced function where individuals pay into it as well as companies. And so you have this outside, almost, like, tribunal that is impartial and fair and can hear employee complaints - everything from sexual harassment to bias to discrimination to pay inequity - and really make some binding decisions around who's right and who's wrong. Unfortunately, that sounds like a union or at least what used to sound like a union in some ways, and I don't think companies will go for that.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: At the beginning of this conversation, you said that you're worried that people are going to get tired. Do you think, though, that the corporate culture will change?
RUETTIMANN: Well, I have said before that I'm both cynical but open to being optimistic about the future. You know, I'm Gen X. I'm 42 years old. I've seen quite a bit of sexual harassment come and go in my lifetime. We've had these moments in society where we're focused on women and women's issues. And we get excited for a period of time, and then we seem to forget about it. So I would like to be hopeful. I would like to be optimistic, but I'm not naive. Not at all.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Laurie Ruettimann, a human resources consultant who has written extensively about harassment in the workplace. Thanks so much for joining us.
RUETTIMANN: You're welcome, Lulu.
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GARCIA-NAVARRO: That wraps up our special broadcast Sexual Harassment: A Moment of Reckoning. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.