How Harassment Endures

Another powerful man was arrested. Everyone's acting surprised. Really?!?!. They all knew it. Everyone around him. His friends. His colleagues. His brother. His victims. Especially his victims. So...how could this happen?  The answer, unfortunately, isn't that complicated - No one likes a rat. 

Humans are social creatures. We evolved to depend on one another for survival. Our psychological core is wired to succumb to things like group think, confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance. If you're not familiar with those terms It's not a big deal. here's a quick rundown:

  • Group think - a behavior where a group of people agree with one another no matter how absurd or immoral or like a group of people that think the Dolphins will one day win the superbowl. 
  • Confirmation bias - our tenancy to look for things that validate our opinions and ignore anything to the contrary. Example a scientist who refuses to see evidence contrary to what he wants to prove...or that asshole friend that you think is nice because you only focus on the good stuff he does.
  • Cognitive dissonance - our ability to neatly separate two competing ideals and ignore the contrasts between both. ex a devotedly religious biologist....or working for a tobacco company Monday through Friday and doing a 5k run for cancer on Saturday. 

These behavioral tendencies aren't all bad. They allowed us to live together and cooperate and survive. But, as you can see, they're double sided. They encourage cooperation and discourage dissenting opinion. They're responsible for many human accomplishments and also many of our worst tragedies. 

And here they are. Once again rearing they're ugly head. Also people are assholes. There's that too.  

My ex-bosses son majored in film production. He moved to SOCAL specifically so he could intern at the Weinstein company. I remember my boss speaking about it with such awe, such excitement and envy you would think HE started Weinstein. It took me a while to realize that it wasn't passion for film that earned my bosses respect. It was money. 

Harvey Weinstein was many things to many people. But it's safe to say for most he was a means to an end. He was the head of a powerful organization. The driving force behind an industry. Associating with him in one fashion or another meant success. 

His colleagues depended on him to make money. Actors, actresses, directors and producers all needed his company's influence. His brother needed him to be who he was. So everyone pretended it wasn't happening. They all talked to each other and mentioned how Harvey was a "good guy" (group think) they looked for good things he did for them to promote their careers and make money (confirmation bias) and when all else failed they just ignored and lived with the fact that he was a monster that ran contrary to any possible value system they may have had (cognitive dissonance). At least that's how I imagine it going. 

I imagine it this way because it's not the first time we've seen this:

  • Bill Cosby
  • Bill Clinton 
  • Joe Paterno
  • Mike Tyson
  • Priests in the Catholic church

Countless men in power. All with similar stories. They got away with it for years as people around them closed their eyes and/or looked the other way. All of these guys had people around them that knew exactly what they were doing. But convinced themselves that turning away was the right thing to do. They didn't want to go against the grain. No one likes a snitch.

We absolutely fucking hate whistleblowers. Think about it. When was the last time someone exposed corruption on a large scale and lived a happy life?

  • Francisco Serpico exposed NYC police dept for corruption back in the 70s (check out the movie). up to 1/3 of all NYPD cops were arrested. He subsequently had to move to switzerland. 
  • Edward Snowden is in hiding in Russia. The guy that exposed the fact that your government is invading privacy on a scale never before seen...by ANY government. 
  • Kyle Lago (whom you likely never heard of) exposed shady mortgage practices at countrywide, which was a subsidiary of bank of america. He didn't exactly face a hero's welcome back home. 
Unable to find a job and suffering from cancer, his house went into the foreclosure process,” Berman wrote. “His wife and five kids also suffered the punishment for having reported fraud, experiencing poverty and hardship.
— https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/1563783

Granted, these are only a few examples of many. But they illustrate the hardships faced by people who try and do the right thing by swimming against the tide. Or at least stopping and waiving at the life guard to say "hey fucktard, none of us should be swimming" while the rest of us are like "what the fuck is this asshole doing?"

Consequently we condition ourselves to shy away from such behavior. At the very least we grow aware of the consequences they face. But they're the only ones going against the grain to bring attention to some pretty important issues. 

This is, at least partly, why the below statistic is true:

Only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 2 out of 3 go unreported.
— https://www.rainn.org/statistics/criminal-justice-system

In addition to all of the other challenges with reporting harassment, victims also know that reporting rape is, in essence, blowing the whistle. 

Now, am I comparing the severity of rape with the intrusion of privacy in government surveillance? No. Of course not. I am simply conveying the human revulsion to "going against the grain". Some grain is clearly more coarse. And it's happening as we speak. 

Right now, someone is being harassed or, even worse, raped. They will not report it for fear of repercussion. The offender will likely do it again, emboldened by the fact that either no one knows or no one cares. Even if he or she is arrested, chances are they won't go to jail.

Out of every 1000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will go free
— https://www.rainn.org/statistics/criminal-justice-system

I hope this will change with all of the light we're shining on the subject. By exposing such behaviors and statistics to the public,  by shaming these people, bringing them to justice we let everyone know this is unacceptable behavior. We are encouraging people to recognize this behavior for what it is and speak out. And that's exactly what's happening.  That's what happened with Clinton, Cosby, Tyson and various Catholic priests. 

In doing this we are creating a new norm of accepted behavior. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.