Last week, Matt Lauer, co-host of the Today show, was fired. A former NBC employee reported that in 2001 he made inappropriate comments, which led up to him locking her in his office and sexually assaulting her.
Unfortunately, her case is not one that is uncommon. Countless women have reported having similar experiences, not just at NBC, but in various diverse workplaces. Upon speaking with these women, it seems as though sexual misconduct has become commonplace and accepted as “boys just being boys”.
But, should this be the case? Should bad behavior be tolerated or swept under the rug because of a person’s status or the fact that “it’s just what’s done”?
Some are criticizing this woman for waiting so long to report it and for undressing herself, seeming to go along with his advances.
What many don’t realize, though is that rape victims often are so shrouded in guilt and shame that they may not speak out right away. This is why current laws are in place which protect the victim with extended statutes of limitations, ones that are longer than other crimes.
Plus, Lauer was a household name, having held a co-host seat in one of the largest networks in existence for over two decades.
Would it not make sense that anyone might be hesitant to speak out against him about anything, let alone an act that may have left the victim with feelings of embarrassment?
On top of that, the network only launched into action following a formal complaint. Yet, they did nothing about prior complaints made about his behavior.
Could this have been an effort to save face to avoid any public outcry or backlash?
Whatever the case, this situation beings to light the attitude held by many about harassment. While the official stance held by many organizations is that of uniform intolerance of harassing behavior, the rape culture which is often excused speaks more to the real attitude held.
Lauer is now apologetic and will have to face the consequences of his actions, but can we all agree that people who participate in such behavior should be held more accountable for their actions.
And those who say “boys will be boys” should be ashamed at their blatant disregard for common sense principles and laws which protect people from victimization.
Maybe more people would be encouraged to speak out if it weren’t made acceptable.
Better yet, maybe these predators (let’s call them what they are ) would not feel emboldened to behave this way if they knew that it couldn’t be easily explained away or swept under the rug.
Sadly, this is a common reality that many children even find themselves in. The stories almost seem endless of the little girl being attacked by the boy who adults smilingly excuse, saying, “Oh, that’s just how boys act when they like you”.
Because I was under the impression that people who liked you wouldn’t readily put you in a position to feel used, abused, or devalued.
More consideration should be given to protecting people rather than saving face or avoiding law suits.
My heart goes out to others who have been in similar situations or are in them now.
My advice is to forgive yourself. You can’t beat yourself up for not knowing how to deal with a situation that should not exist, anyway.
And don’t be afraid to speak out. No one deserves to be violated in any way.
I set my sights on a brighter future, one where people do the right thing simply because it’s right, not because they fear some backlash or being exposed as enablers facilitating misconduct.
Until then, just hold on and know that you are not alone.
And I, for one, will not stop fighting until justice is served and true freedom rings.
On October 10, 1991, Joseph Harris woke up angry, but he was more than that. He was angry, but he had a plan that would alter the course of many lives and US history forever.
Before leaving his apartment in Paterson, New Jersey one morning, he rigged his front door with explosives and lighter fluid. He headed to his ex-supervisor, Carol Ott’s, home where he viciously stabbed her to death with a sword. He then walked into the living room and shot her boyfriend in the back of the head while he watched TV.
From there, he went to the post office, shooting and killing to postal workers.
Shortly after this incident, the term “going postal” was coined as a way to describe the extreme violence acted out at his hands.
While there is NEVER an excuse for violence, there was a lot of coverage about his actions. Very few stopped to think: how DOES one “go postal”? As in, what leads up to an otherwise sane person just losing it to the point of no return?
The back story to Harris’ case was that this act was the culmination of an 18 month long termination process which stemmed from his refusal to consent to taking a “fitness for duty exam”. Ms. Ott, his supervisor, pushed for this when she received what she described as “harassment” from Harris. When encouraged by police to file a formal criminal complaint against Harris. She never followed up. Instead, she focused her energy on trying to get him fired from his job.
Since there was never any official record of the harassment, there is no real way short of speculation f weighing in on the validity of her calling his mental health into question.
But, who’s to say that she didn’t consider it “harassment” when he voiced his dislike of not being able to take needed days off? Or gotten written up for being “sick too many times”? Or any other inconvenience or discomfort to Ott’s extended breaks or need to have her work and shifts covered herself? Unfortunately, many in positions of power sometimes use the system for their own convenience, holding those in a dependent position in figurative chains, bound by their will and word.
Many states are “fire-at-will” states and employers do not need a real reason to terminate an employee. This being the case, it makes sense that many employees are enduring less-than-favorable conditions at the hands of people who hold their livelihoods in their very hands.
Most people are just one day away from an employers bad day, which could result in them losing the means to put a roof over their heads, food in their mouths, and care for responsibilities for their families. Balancing your life on the temperament of a person or people who may view you as an expendable commodity that often leans more toward being a liability can cause undue mental strain.
For this reason, man are deciding to find alternative ways to care for their financial responsibilities. More people are deciding to become entrepreneurs and are finding other sources of freelance work which allow them more freedom. In this way, their eggs aren’t “all in one basket”, so to speak. This gives a person more freedom to speak up and refuse to endure unjust or unfavorable circumstances in the name of continuing to live.
With this pressure relieved, it is easier to feel that they can take their foot off of the gas from time to time, so to speak, and make time for self care and doing more things that make life enjoyable.
Because life should be more than just working, paying bills, and breathing.
Because, let’s face it; who really sleeps anymore?
Regardless of the circumstances, however, taking care of oneself mentally while at work is important. Those who knew Joseph Harris described him as “quiet” and “calm”. They definitely never expected to see him murder anyone in cold blood, let alone four people. But, he allowed his stress to build up to the height of moving him to take the lives of others. Although this was an extreme case, people can become unpredictable when they become unable to cope with situations in which they feel powerless.
If someone feels stressed or worried at work, it might be a good idea to take some time off to regroup. And, depending on the circumstances, it would be an excellent idea to speak with an attorney about basic human rights laws because, although states are fire-at-will, some situations involve cases where rights have been violated and can be punishable by law. And be sure to document any situation that seems unfair and unjust on paper.
The mind is a terrible thing to waste and even worse yet is a mind that lacks the ability to think through a situation because it is overburdened.
Take care of yourselves,
I picked him because he was safe.
He was my calm from the storm.
He was my corner of the sky,
The only person in the world who understood my alien language.
He knew me, the real me, the me that I tried so hard to hide from everyone else.
He was my comfort.
He was who I pulled my own strength from
Because he housed my peace.
He was my leg to stand on.
He was my shoulder to cry on.
He was my backbone.
He was my other half.
I trusted him.
I respected him.
I felt just as lucky to have him in my life as he told me that he felt to have me in his.
He was my chance at redemption.
No, he wasn’t polished.
He didn’t have any amazing accomplishments to brag on.
But, I was convinced that one day he would.
And I was willing to walk through the flames with him
as long as we could be home for each other.
But, hopeful words became empty promises.
Sweet truths became bitter lies.
Soothing remedies became deadly poison.
And I began to question the ground on which I stood.
Is it solid enough to hold me up?
What about holding up the rest of my world,
Precariously perched on his potential and well-wishes?
And when the walls crumbled at my feet,
I began to curse love.
I spat in its face and damned it to hell.
I saw it for the illusion that it always was.
And I shielded myself from its burn.
I lost all faith in love and began to lose faith in myself.
The blueprints of our life, yesterday’s trash,
Fit only to be soiled by the animals,
If it were to be useful at all.
I wish this one had a silver lining,
An upside that made it all seem worth it.
I can only see and feel blinding pain.
And am left with questions unanswered.
One day, it may get better.
Today, I cry for what will never be.
So close, but not really.
Tears that drown all hopes of happiness.
Every time I see a video, doctored, undoctored, marked by football play-like squiggles, imaginative captions, and flat out ignorant commentary, I want to scream! Let me begin my rant by sayi…
Every time I see a video, doctored, undoctored, marked by football play-like squiggles, imaginative captions, and flat out ignorant commentary, I want to scream!
Let me begin my rant by saying that this was a terrible tragedy and my heart truly goes out to her family. My heart goes out to her unborn children, the lives that she will no longer be able to touch, the laughter that was silenced, all of the future memories that will never be because her life was cut short.
Was she murdered? Did she walk into the freezer on her own?
The world may never know, despite the many protests, movements, and other methods employed to force the hand of the powers that be to bring about justice in this case.
But, let me tell you how you and I made errors in judgment that led to the death of this young lady.
I have heard many accuse her mother. Social media lit up with the hashtag #whereareyourchildren, in an effort to raise awareness about the current trend of parents who apathetically throw their children to the proverbial wolves, inadvertently perpetuating a trend or parent shaming.
Did anyone stop to think of how this would make her mother, who very likely already is beating herself up, retracing every step, driving herself mad with the “what ifs” of things that she could have done to prevent losing her daughter?
The fact of the matter is, her daughter was technically an adult, having crossed the magical threshold of age where society deems you as capable of being autonomous and making major life decisions on your own.
Despite long-discovered scientific research that indicates that the human brain doesn’t reach maturity until age 25, a discovery that has since been shifted to accommodate the newfound fact that our brains never stop growing.
But, to say that her mother should have locked her away in the house is shortsighted and unrealistic for any good parent looking to facilitate their child’s ascent into adulthood.
All we can do as parents is do our best to equip our children and pray that the mistakes that they will inevitably make don’t require much recovery time.
So, blaming her mother is wrong.
Then, people moved to blaming her friends, these children (because that’s what they are).
It was disgusting.
People went so far as to wish death on them!
It blew my mind that strangers, basing their entire knowledge of the crisis on a few live videos where they may or may not have heard voices, may or may not have seen figures reflected off of sunglasses and phone screens, could condemn these children, who were victims in many ways themselves.
This is not to say that things could have been different if her friends would have adopted the same code as my friends did back when my better judgment took a back seat to having fun and enjoying my freedom with my friends.
We had the unspoken yet understood code that we looked out for each other.
If one of us went to the bar or a hotel or, hell, even the bathroom, the whole crew was going or, at the very least, we went in pairs. We had NO problem overriding our friend’s faulty suggestions or demands to leave on their own or being pressured by some dude with an agenda.
Even if we had to fight our friends.
We could at least nurse our wounds with the confidence that we had done our best to be a real friend, despite the outcome.
We held each other’s hair back and puked together, sleeping it off in the safety of each other’s company.
And if someone wanted to have some adult alone time with someone, we had NO problem taking pictures of faces, Ids, cars, license plates, and letting it be known that at least 10 other people would be sent said evidence for future use if need be.
Or we would agree to wait outside the door with our ears plugged until they were finished.
Just as long as when we left, we did so together.
But, again, even in this regard, there was a lot of finger-wagging and blaming of her friends because they did not follow this code.
And this is SO wrong!
Why, you ask?
Think about the culture that we have created that these kids have grown up in.
Social media has told them that the people who claim to care about them are content with talking to a wall rather than interacting with them.
And when they post things that interest them, they are demeaned and attacked, told that they shouldn’t post those things.
Or they come across hurtful memes that literally say that no one cares about what they post.
They have grown accustomed to DM hookups.
So much so, that the idea of being respectfully approached and asked for something as simple as a date is now deemed an antiquated notion and unrealistic in this day and age.
And instead of speaking out against it, the older generations just fall in line like neutered dogs.
People are born.
We leave our likes or condolences accordingly and scroll on to the next juicy tidbit or mindless distraction.
We are afraid to speak our opinions.
“I ain’t trying to be in nobody’s business,” is the go-to cop out.
We are afraid of being touched just as much as we are to touch.
But, now, we want to respond in outrage because an establishment, who has a lot at stake and has already lost a lot themselves already, to be some magical Sherlock Holmes or may or may not be withholding information for whatever reasons?
When is the last time that YOU reached out to check on someone?
Showed them that you cared?
When is the last time that YOU reached out to help someone to see a new perspective?
Shared your experience to help make their path smoother?
When was the last time that you chose compassion over judgment?
Risked the irritation or anger of someone that you cared about in the name of being a good person?
Looked for the similarities rather than the differences?
When was the last time that you were a source of encouragement, healing, and relief for someone else?
Told someone that you loved them, not mechanically, but because you felt it from the bottom of your heart?
Or have you resorted to cynicism, convincing yourself that no one cares? Vowing to remain in complacency, resort to childlike thinking such as, “Well, nobody ever did it for me, so I won’t do it for anybody else”?
If so, you are part of the reason that Kenneka Jenkins is dead.
I truly believe that if these things were addressed individually, we could take back our collective power as people.
A young lady with so much to offer this world might still be here.
We don’t know the height or depth of the loss that we experienced.
And we ALL experienced this loss, whether we acknowledge it or not.
But, it’s not too late to prevent this from happening to someone else.
My soul does not even have the strength to address the shameful “challenges” that have sprung up like weed from this tragedy. But, should we really be surprised, in the day and age where there are few lows that many won’t sink to just for likes or views??
I propose a new challenge.
Let’s show each other how much we truly care for one another.
Can we start the “I Love You” challenge??
Share a bunch of love in the world and put THAT on social media for the world to see?
Let’s be less busy preaching and judging what the world should be like because we are so busy living it.
I, myself, have been guilty of this and will take this challenge very seriously. And if you see me veering off course, I give you permission to pull me up.
Because I know that it will come from a place of love, not judgment.
We have the ability to embark upon an exciting future.
The only way out is through and I am on this journey with you.
I love you,