October 3, 2021

October 1, 2021: Talking about Sex and Consent

We're seeing the impact of the #MeToo movement continue today

Five years after Gretchen Carlson's bombshell lawsuit brought sexual harassment in the workplace to the front page of national conversations,  we are still seeing the impact of her "jump off a cliff" play out in the news this week as the #MeToo movement continues.

Here are the stories that caught our attention this week...

When you call out your former employee
One way to speak up is to call out a public figure with an op-ed in the New York Times. That's the route that former ABC and NBC executive Shelley Ross took this week. In the piece, she detailed her experience of sexual assault from 2005, including the steps he took to "evade accountability" after her husband witnessed the event.

Shelley emphasized that she doesn't see Cuomo's act as sexual in nature (which makes sense because many times assault and abuse are more about power than sex). She also made a point to say that she's not trying to get Cuomo fired, but she did call for a new kind of accountability — one that reflects the progress made in the #MeToo movement. In the early days, people like Roger Ailes would simply lose their jobs. But Shelley is making the point that if we want to move forward, and if we want to accept his public apology, then we need to see accountability like re-education and highlighting women's voices.

Instead of canceling another powerful male news anchor, Shelly wants "to see him journalistically repent: agree on air to study the impact of sexism, harassment and gender bias in the workplace, including his own, and then report on it." And we agree this kind of response will lead to more significant progress for fighting sexual harassment in the workplace moving forward.

Justice the traditional way
On September 27, a jury found R&B musician R. Kelly guilty of nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking charges. If you haven't followed the story, this case has been in the spotlight not just because of his fame, but because it has taken decades for us to see justice served. There have been accusations against Kelly for decades that went ignored.

Many voiced celebration for a case that finally shows what it looks like when the system "works" — but with over 200,000 untested rape kits sitting in evidence across the country, we still have a long way to go.

Too many women have experienced this
One in five women are victims of either an attempted or completed sexual assault. Most people, if not a survivor themselves, most likely knows someone who is. One of the most important things *any of us* can do to help victims of sexual assault is to be ready to talk about it, and know how to respond.

Sexual coercion can happen even within a relationship. It's a sad reality that many women who are in a relationship may not even realize that their consent is being violated by partners who use manipulation and bullying tactics.

And consent is not the end of the conversation. Discussing consent is necessary, but is just one step along the path towards free and authentic love and respect.

Here are a few other top picks for the week...

READ: Why Catholics Need to Talk about Sex More
We're not having enough honest conversations about sex, and Catholic women (and men!) are struggling. But by sharing our struggles, laughing at the challenges, and talking openly we can create a healthier and safer environment.

WATCH: Reconstructing Healthy Sexual Conversations about Women
In this talk, Vanessa Goldberg evaluates the harm that mainstream purity narratives can cause when they are not phrased within a holistic nature of working to understand and embrace the gift of female sexuality.

LISTEN: Home Decorating for Maximum Comfort
The spaces we live and work in have a big impact on our mindset, explains NPR's Life Kit. And creating a calm, restful space can provide stability in times of change and uncertainty. It's called "comfort decorating" — and it's just in time for fall weather.

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