This week the news has exploded with stories of sexual harassment. On Monday, Dharun Ravi was sentenced after videotaping his college roommate Tyler Clementi having a sexual encounter with a man, and then outing him via instant messenger and twitter.
On Tuesday Ellen Pao brought a case against Kleiner Perkins and Caulfield & Buyers after facing sexual harassment and discrimination over a six year period. Both stories are testament to the fact that this behaviour is rooted deeply in the fabric of our culture, however, what is more chilling is how harassment filters from school, to college, to the workplace.
By allowing sexual harassment to persist on college campuses, we’re creating a pipeline for acceptance that bleeds into the workplace. In one case, the victim is a young gay man. In the other, the victim is a high-powered female executive. And yet neither of their experiences with sexual harassment is unique: 61% of men, like Tyler Clementi, have experienced sexual harassment on college campuses, and 25% of women experience sexual harassment in the workplace at some point in their career.
Too commonly harassment is disregarded as ‘kids being kids’ on campuses or ‘boys being boys’ in the workplace. And victims are oftentimes advised to ignore it because ‘it’s just a part of life.’ It shouldn’t take suicide or a high-powered investment firm to make society pay attention to sexual harassment. Had Clementi not killed himself, this ‘harmless childhood prank’ would most likely have been deemed ‘kids fooling around.’ And had Ellen Pao been a cashier at the grocery store, her story wouldn’t have made the headlines. Regardless, both reports demonstrate how when victims of harassment come forward to tell their stories — people listen.
The Hollaback! campaign against campus harassment is the first step to breaking the cycle of harassment. Harassment is at epidemic proportions. According to the AAUW, 51% of male students admit to harassing someone. If we do not address the culture of bullying in college then students will continue to harass throughout their lives and in the workplace and the victims will continue to accept it as ‘just a part of life.’
The good news is, there is a solution. In a survey, 57% of students said that to cope with sexual harassment, they wanted an anonymous online reporting platform with resources. At Hollaback!, that’s what we do best. But we need your help. We’re raising $25,000 to customize our platform that has been used in 50 cities in 17 countries to address campus harassment, too. If we’re successful, we’ll bring Hollaback! to 10 college campuses within the year. And that’s just a start. Soon, students everywhere will be able to report their harassment. And we can rest easier knowing that we’re making the world just a little bit safer, and a little bit better, for everyone.
Stand with Tyler Clementi and Ellen Pao by donating today. With your support, we can give voice to countless victims of harassment.
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