Sense & Sensitivity

Sexual Harassment Issues Worry Parent

DEAR HARRIETTE: All this talk about sexual harassment at work is upsetting me, but more my daughter, who is about to graduate from college and wants to work in the entertainment industry. She and I have been discussing how she can protect herself from sexual predators on the job and whether she should even keep her dream of working in film given the horror stories that have been exposed about Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby before him, and so many others. How do I protect my daughter and encourage her to pursue her passion? Listening to the women who are speaking up today doesn’t really make me more comfortable. They were quiet for decades so that they could grow their careers. Is that what my daughter’s fate will be -- give in or go home? -- Protecting My Daughter, Cincinnati

DEAR PROTECTING MY DAUGHTER: Facing down a sexual predator on the job is a big topic of conversation today without any clear guidelines on how to proceed. The fact that many women are speaking out -- from Hollywood stars to women in other fields of business -- is a good sign. There is a lot more awareness than in the past about how rampant sexual misconduct is at work.

How that translates into protections for women at work is unclear as of yet. What you can teach your daughter is that she has the right to work in a safe environment. If anyone attempts to cross a sexual boundary with her, she can say no and report it to human resources. If more women do this, there is a chance that the perpetrators will curb their bad behavior. It is also possible that women who speak up could continue to lose opportunities in the workplace. My guess is that we will need the courageous women who are willing to fight vocally for their right to work in a safe space to change the trend that has existed for so many years.

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