The speed at which NBC fired Matt Lauer from his longtime gig at the “Today Show,” amid allegations he sexually harassed a staffer shows there’s been a seismic cultural shift in this country.
Because if Lauer, who was the centerpiece of the station’s premier program, can be toppled by complaints of sexual misconduct, then woe to the average Joe.
For obvious reasons, it is a good thing that corporate honchos are taking sexual harassment in the workplace seriously.
No one should be able to get away with sexual harassment in the workplace.
Finally, because enough courageous women have stepped out of the shadows, we know that this isn’t something that happens just to waitresses and secretaries.
Finally, the dirty secret that too many women carry inside them, after they have been humiliated and intimidated because of unwanted sexual advances, can now be dragged into the light.
In some cases, the men accused of committing inappropriate acts are so old, their only punishment will be public humiliation.
For instance, Garrison Keillor’s response to being fired from Minnesota Public Radio on Wednesday over allegations of “inappropriate behavior,” was “I’m 75 and don’t have any interest in arguing about this,” the radio host and humorist said in a statement to The New York Times.
The 88-year-old Congressman John Conyers, D-Mich., was forced to step down from his coveted seat on the House judiciary committee after allegations came to light that he used taxpayers’ money to settle cases with women who accused him of sexual impropriety.
Not even the dead have been spared from the public shaming.
On Wednesday, N’Digo’s publisher, Hermene Hartman, posted a provocative article online recounting her allegations that the late Reynaldo Glover sexually harassed her when he was chairman of the board at City Colleges of Chicago.
“One day, Glover and I were alone in an elevator, at central office, and he touched me incorrectly. I kneed him in the groin and then kicked him about three times, until the elevator stopped on the top floor,” Hartman wrote.
“I pushed him off the elevator and kicked him several times again, in the rear this time. I went and got security and said there was a piece of s— on the floor and he needed help to prepare for the board meeting. Glover never touched me again, but he did tell me he could fire me and make life miserable for me. And he did,” she said.
Hartman filed a lawsuit against Glover, the Board of Trustees, and Nelvia Brady, then chancellor of Chicago City Colleges, but did not prevail in the courts.
“Sexual harassment cases are very difficult to prove. . . . I was determined to provide public embarrassment for Glover and to insure he never had a political chance,” Hartman wrote.
Glover, a former partner at the law firm of Jenner & Block, died in 2007.
In today’s climate, victims of sexual harassment won’t have to scream nearly as loud in order to be heard.
It took just 35 hours for NBC to investigate sexual harassment allegations against Lauer and give him the boot.
And to think, this all started with the outing of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein as a serial sexual predator and the spread of the #MeToo hashtag, created by social activist Tarana Burke.
I’m sure there are still millions of stories out there waiting to be told.
Unfortunately, a lot of the women who were harmed by this behavior will never get their say because their abusers have died.
I’m hopeful these women will find a measure of peace knowing their daughters and granddaughters will work in a world where sexual harassment isn’t treated like President Donald Trump’s “locker room talk.”