Countless women have reported the discomfort and guilt they’ve felt over the years before #MeToo allowed them to speak out and speak up. Lingering self-doubt and self-blame are part of the reason why so many women have come forward to identify sexual abusers. But everywhere there are women and men who have not reported or fired a person accused of being offensive, harassing or abusive toward women.
Yet, here we are dumping on Hillary Clinton — a convenient target. Her decision about not firing an advisor happened before this period of expressed outrage and serial firing. What’s interesting is how many people now know exactly what they would have done in her shoes. They’re disappointed or angry, blaming a woman while a man who has been repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct sits happily in the Oval Office — no doubt amused.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. For years women have had to deal with sexual misconduct on their own or with little help. They tried to downplay their gender in male dominated fields and speaking up about offense was risky. There were no guidelines. It was understood that your career was on the line. I can’t help but wonder if the women and men now pointing at Hillary with “disgust” spoke up about harassment and worse. Did they do it in 100% of cases, 92%, 78%, 15%?
It’s easier to blame Hillary Clinton. Trump does it all the time for all sorts of things. She’s down. So why not slap her again? Is that what we really want? Or is that what many in the media want?
If we’re going to stop sexual offense, harassment and misconduct, it’s going to take more than blaming women who didn’t have a powerful #MeToo movement around when they were trying to crack the glass ceiling. Sure, maybe some of us would have been more outspoken than they were or fired some people if in a position to do so. It’s easy to think so. Without all the facts, it’s hard to say. One thing we do know – and should remember – is that blaming women for not doing what we are somewhat more able to do now is taking the wrong track back to the same old station.