(PennLive – March 23, 2018) The six most powerful keyboard strokes in 2018 have proven to be #MeToo. We believe that’s a welcome occurrence.
The brief but incredibly powerful phrase is believed to have been coined in 2007 by Philadelphian Tarana Burke. Actress Alyssa Milano, an outspoken social media advocate, turned it into Twitter hashtag last year. A movement was born.
Long before the advent of social media, Burke, a self-identified victim of sexual violence, intended the phrase to reach women who had also suffered the same as a way of support.
Milano’s twitter post took the sensibility from the shadows to the media mainstream. As a consequence, more and more women felt empowered to come forward with their own experiences.
The conversation has since expanded beyond sexual violence; women are also coming forward with workplace issues like harassment and discrimination based on gender.
Like the rest of the world, Harrisburg is no exception.
State Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-Delaware, will soon be ex-Rep Miccarelli. He’s decided against standing for re-election after being accused by two women of rape and abuse.
Miccarelli denies these accusation. But a lawyer for an accuser says the House leadership found the charges credible. And they’ve been referred to the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office.
The conversation now turns to our living rooms.
Former WHTM-27 news anchor Flora Posteraro has filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, charging that she was demoted to a less visible shift, albeit with the same pay, for complaining about demeaning comments and gender-based directives made by station General Manager Robert Bee.
As of Thursday, PennLive’s attempts to reach WHTM’s parent company, Nextstar Media Group, for comment were unsuccessful. Bee declined to comment.
Admittedly, we can’t say we know the whole truth. Miccarelli has proclaimed innocence, but he may very well get his day in court.
The complaint filed by Posteraro is really the start of the process, far from the final word.
But we do know this: Accusations of demeaning conduct, harassment and sexual violence may not always be taken at face value. The promise of America is not about accusations being the final word.
But they must be the first word.
Accusations like this must be taken seriously and investigated, and accusations made in good faith must never be a source of retaliation.
All people deserve to go to work and have the same fair shake. All people must have a way to escape an abusive relationship. The #MeToo movement represents that promise, which we enshrined in the 1964 law.
Gender discrimination is outlawed. The law is unambiguous.
True, the law referred specifically to employment; it is implied by that promise that we are all to be safe, free and fairly treated.
We commend and support women who come forward for doing so, but that part of the equation is not enough. This isn’t just about women. It’s about men, too.
It’s time. Men don’t need to stand up for women, they must stand with women.
We all need to demand an end to violence, harassment and unfair treatment in the workplace.