Join Anne's Network

On Anne's Mind

What's Next After #MeToo?

Saturday, December 23, 2017 @ 9:29 PM

December 23, 2017 -- Auburn Hills, Michigan USA

Dear Global Friends/Thinkers:

As one disturbing #MeToo story after another plays out before our national consciousness, I’ve started wondering what the best of our men are thinking. Our brothers, husbands, sons and trusted friends. Fathers, too, if you are lucky enough to still have yours.

None of the stories – not even the obscenest, nor the abundance of them – has surprised me. What has given me pause, though, is the reaction of so many well-intentioned, wonderful men who have said, “I had no idea how pervasive this is!" 

Women are all too aware of the menacing, gender iceberg that is always lurking just beneath the surface of our daily lives. Nearly all of us have been scraped by its sharp edges. Most have been at least cut or even sliced deeply. The unluckiest haven’t lived to share their stories.

In millions of deeply ingrained ways, every culture teaches females and males different stories about who we are, our place in the world and how to navigate it safely. Little boys are encouraged to learn to protect themselves from likely aggression from other males. Because most females don’t have the physical strength to out-muscle nearly any male we will encounter, girls are taught from an early age to stay out of harm’s way.

The most likely harm we must always be on guard against is from unwanted male attention. Attention that always has the potential to turn sexual. And, if we don’t cooperate, dangerous.

I've been puzzled that not one of the  most beloved men in my life has thought (or dared?) to ask, “Anne, have you ever experienced sexual harassment, or worse?” The only person who did was a radio host who was stunned by my on-air answer

Men Don't Ask. Perhaps the reason so few males realize how frequently females experience or escape from unwanted sexual attention, harassment or assault is because we don’t tell them. So, I decided to write a letter to the closest men in my life. By the time I finished, it was five, typed pages, but too painful to share.  

As I opened my memory file-drawer, scenes I’d forgotten came flooding back. They are never really forgotten, of course. Each one leaves its mark, impacting how we move through the world. And, hopefully, how we are listening now to the deluge of wounded women who are finally sharing their stories and confronting their predators.   

My earliest memory is from age 11 when a teenage boy, a stranger, tried to drag me into a neighbor’s dark garage. I knew I was in danger and ran. I never saw that boy again, but I met many of his cohorts over the years. Some were merely hanging out of cars yelling vulgarities at me, or grabbing at their crotches and hissing something obscene in my ear as we passed on the street.

Others caught me in the dark, at a moment when I made the mistake of simply being alone -- or trusting someone I thought was a friend.

And then there’s the mocking disrespect, the disdain, the sexual innuendo that all violate a woman's sense of personal safety. As a lone, female sports reporter interviewing athletes in locker rooms, I regularly absorbed gender hostility. That was considered the price of entry for women of my generation who dared to tackle all-male work environments, imposing ourselves where we were not wanted. In every decade of my life, I have been routinely reminded -- even by men who claimed to love me --  that physically over-powering me was always an option. 

But here's the saddest part of all this: there's nothing special or unusual about my experiences. Nearly every woman I know, who has lived long enough, can match me story for story. 

Dysfunctional, gender dynamics have wreaked havoc from Congressional hallways and network newsrooms to Hollywood casting couches and auto industry plant floors. Blue collar women at Ford Motor Company have endured decades of apalling harassment. And yet, it goes on and on. 

Time magazine got it right. The courageous Silence Breakers of 2017, who begn this national cleansing with the January Women's March on Washington, DC., brought this simmering outrage to a full boil with a steady drumbeat of stunning revelations about powerful men. Roger Ailes. Bill O'Reilly. Harvey Weinstein. Charlie Rose. Louis C.K. Matt Lauer. Roy Moore. John Conyers. Al Franken. Our Comander-in-Chief.

What's Next? Now that the lid has finally blown off our Pandora's box of decades (no, centuries) of gender injustice, the only thing that really matters is, What happens next? Will this moment of national reckoning lead to a forward turn on our evolutionary wheel, or will it be a mere passing blip on our cultural radar? Here are my top three forward steps:     

1) Millennials Will Lead. It is young women – millennials who thought the gender wars were behind us and are stunned at what older women have been tolerating – who are leading on this issue. 

Katie Couric tolerated Matt Lauer "pinching her on the butt" for years. Taylor Swift outed and sued the DJ who tried the same with her. Meryl Streep once called Harvey Weinstein “God” on Oscar night and claimed she didn’t know about his abuse of young actresses. Rose McGowan defied the Weinstein empire and publicly accused him of rape. The U.S. Congress established its own taxpayer-funded slush fund to handle these situations – and paid out $17 million over the last 20 years to cover them up. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and other women members of Congress led the demand for “zero tolerance” that toppled Senator Al Franken and Representative John Conyers.

2) Male Confusion is Unacceptable. This is not about flirting or extra-marital affairs.  The #METOO movement is about the pervasive male trespassing on women's bodies and psychological safety. Vice President Pence's solution of never having lunch or dinner with a woman without his wife is insulting to men who can control their sexual appetites.

3) Start With Our Kids. We must innoculate our girls to be prepared for the gender harassment virus they will inevitably face. They shouldn't be too shocked to protect themselves when it happens. And it's time to turn our attention to the gender norms our culture imposes on boys. We've spent decades teaching girls to be strong women. It's time to teach our boys the power of being sweet men.   

True leaders step up and lead at the right moment, which is nearly always long before it’s easy. We are at a moment in time when women’s evolutionary march toward equality is drawing us close to a critical mass of influence. We are finding the courage to raise our voices -- collectively. The non-apology apologies rain on deaf ears.  There is no turning back.

To my Sisters everywhere I plead, "Keep raising your voices." Begin by telling your stories to other women. Then share them with men who love you. Don’t wait for them to ask. Most don't know how. Or, perhaps they are afraid of what our answers will be. 

To my Brothers everywhere I ask, "Are you listening?"

The truth will set us free.  Have a peaceful holiday! Anne 

Leadership Feedback

Anne is interested in your leadership feedback. Periodically, we'll post a new question; we look forward to hearing your responses.

» Click here to view our current question...

Previous Entries

» 4/6/2018 - The Time is Always Right to Do What is Right
» 1/29/2018 - The Rage & Resilience of Gymnast Sister Survivors
» 1/8/2018 - Oprah for President. Really!!!
» 12/23/2017 - What's Next After #MeToo?
» 10/13/2017 - Bullying Boys and Bystander Enablers
» 4/13/2017 - Gold Medal Sistering
» 3/22/2017 - A Severe Case of Testosterone Poisoning
» 11/15/2016 - The Anticipated Roar That Dissolved To A Whisper
» 10/16/2016 - Hear Us Roar!
» 9/11/2016 - It's Time for Women to Stop Being Politely Angry
» 6/7/2016 - Hillary Makes His ... er... Herstory!
» 4/20/2016 - On the Eve of Significant Leadership Change
» 11/22/2015 - There But For The Grace of God Go We
» 5/29/2015 - UBUNTU: I Am Because You Are
» 4/8/2015 - Death By A Thousand Cuts
» 1/9/2015 - Dare to Raise Your Voice MORE in 2015
» 11/16/2014 - Global Women Leaders Gather & Gamergate Backlash
» 8/10/2014 - Relentless Incrementalism
» 5/8/2014 - Thoughts on Mothers and Mothering
» 12/6/2013 - We All Have the Power In Us To Change the Tide, says Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee
» 10/14/2013 - Terrific, Fresh Insight From Four Women Execs
» 8/21/2013 - Harvard Business Review Fresh Insight on Women Rising
» 6/7/2013 - Behind Black Robes, Hijabs And Niqabs, Saudi Women Are Dreaming Big
» 4/16/2013 - When Amway and Microsoft Team Up For Women's Leadership, Sky's the Limit
» 2/25/2013 - NASCAR'S Danica Patrick & Dad's Empower Daughters
» 1/24/2013 - Time For Sports To Stop Limiting Women to Sideline Eye Candy
» 1/2/2013 - The Human Family is Crying Out for Women to Step Up
» 12/2/2012 - Radio Interview with Emily Gail, ESPN Radio Hawaii
» 11/5/2012 - Mixing Business With Pleasure. It's Routine for Men. Why Do Women Hesitate?
» 6/24/2012 - Don't Say Vagina in Michigan and Don't Sit At Men-Only Tables
» 3/17/2012 - St. Patrick's Day Reminder of My Greatest Mentor
» 3/11/2012 - 2012 Women in the World Summit Filled With Riveting Moments
» 2/8/2012 - Overcoming the Gender Ambition Gap
» 12/11/2011 - ACTIVE DUTY PARENTING IS SERVING OUR COUNTRY
» 10/16/2011 - WOMEN, WAR AND PEACE
» 9/28/2011 - Women with "Ganas" Are Leaders & Engines of Economic Growth
» 9/27/2011 - Dale Carnegie Words of Wisdom
» 8/13/2011 - Focus Hope's Eleanor Josaitis Refused To Be A Spectator
» 6/20/2011 - What Makes Teams Smarter? More Women, says Harvard Business Review
» 5/16/2011 - Women Are Not "Guys" and Men are Not "The Norm"
» 3/19/2011 - Anything is Possible Interview with WJR's Jack Krasula
» 2/26/2011 - Interview with National Women's Radio
» 1/28/2011 - Women Play Equal Role in Tunisia Revolution
» 1/22/2011 - GM NAMES FIRST WOMAN TO HEAD GLOBAL PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
» 1/10/2011 - As Women in High-Profile Leadership Increase, So Do the Risks
» 1/1/2011 - Leadership Award Winner Helen Mirren Lets Hollywood Have it . . . With a Grin
» 11/4/2010 - I Had the Pleasure of Knowing Sparky Anderson
» 10/28/2010 - Leadership at all Levels Behind Ford Motor's Stunning Turnaround
» 9/15/2010 - Weighing in on NY Jets Harassment of TV Azteca Sports Reporter
» 7/13/2010 - The Economic Recovery Will be Female
» 5/10/2010 - Auto Industry Still Driving Best and the Brightest Women Out
» 4/1/2010 - Let Sports Arenas Unite, Not Further Divide
» 3/6/2010 - Pass Your Power Forward
» 2/3/2010 - The Girl Cell: I Am An Emotional Creature
» 11/27/2009 - PRACTICING WHAT I PREACH: ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
» 10/20/2009 - The Torch is Being Passed . . . To a New Gender
» 9/21/2009 - A NATIONAL MEDIA EXPERIMENT IN DETROIT
» 9/7/2009 - Diane Sawyer Named New ABC Nightly News Anchor
» 8/31/2009 - Nothing LIke a Scandal to Get Michigan Football Fans Stirred Up
» 7/25/2009 - Was ESPN's Erin Andrews "Asking for it?"
» 7/14/2009 - History Awaits Sonia Sotomayor
» 6/15/2009 - The Meaning of Michelle, Sonia, Ursula and Anne
» 5/20/2009 - Getting Beyond Gender, to Agenda
» 5/11/2009 - Let's Take Back Mother's Day
» 3/19/2009 - Expect To Be Tested
» 2/27/2009 - I thought I had no time for LinkedIn or Facebook -- let alone Twitter! Boy was I wrong.
» 1/28/2009 - Women's Leadership in the Age of Obama
» 1/20/2009 - Interview with Founding President of the Women's Media Center
» 1/11/2009 - One Gender's Crash
» 12/18/2008 - Caroline Kennedy's Biological Clock Powers Up
» 11/23/2008 - The Ascent of a Woman: Lessons I've Learned from Hillary
» 11/11/2008 - A RAINBOW COALITION OF WOMEN: THE ELECTION DECIDERS
» 11/2/2008 - The Power of Perseverance
» 10/31/2008 - Gloria, Billie Jean, Oprah and Maria all together
» 10/22/2008 - Tina Fey and the Real Sarah Palin
» 9/30/2008 - Most Poweful Women
» 9/5/2008 - Weighing in on Sarah Palin
» 8/25/2008 - Rachel Maddow Rocks
» 7/15/2008 - Never Eliminate Yourself
» 6/3/2008 - Show Me A Good Loser and I'll Show You A Loser
» 5/16/2008 - Obama Better Break Not So Sweet Habit
» 4/8/2008 - The Man Keeps His Mansion, The Woman Almost Gets Tethered
» 1/8/2008 - The Soul of a Leader
» 12/11/2007 - All I Want for Christmas Is . . .
» 10/26/2007 - Dare to Lead. A simple but compelling message.
» 9/25/2007 - The Gender Tipping Point . . . just an election away?
» 6/17/2007 - Return to Traditions Can Have Chilling Under Currents
» 5/21/2007 - Queen Rania, Future of the Arab World and Myths about Women Highlight Mideast Conference
» 5/20/2007 - Open Mikes, Tough Questions and Brave Answers Characterize Day One of IWF Jordan Conference
» 5/15/2007 - First Ever Gathering in the Arab World of the International Women's Forum Draws Record Attendance
» 5/5/2007 - Women Leaders Gathering in the Mideast
» 4/20/2007 - Taking the Buyout
» 3/31/2007 - Where Have All the Women Gone?
» 12/5/2006 - Favorite Books
» 11/30/2006 - Old Economy Cultures Are Dead Weight in Race for 21st Century Talent
» 9/25/2006 - The World Watches Our Signals

Usage of content on this site for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited without written consent.

Clients