It's okay if you're a bit nervous about #MeToo.
As employees across all industries attempt to adjust to a new status quo in which workplace sexual harassment is not only publicly decried but also punished, it has been hard to miss the fear-mongering in public and private about the implications of the movement. While many men may fear that they will be wrongly accused by women, it's important to remember that most women are still reticent to call out obvious harassment at all, much less make things up.
A 2016 report from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that "anywhere from 25% to 85% of women report having experienced sexual harassment in the workplace." The agency attributed the sizable range to how "sexual harassment" was defined, also estimating that 75% of all workplace harassment incidents go unreported. These statistics show that we're a long way from over reporting, and the hand-wringing over false accusations is largely misplaced.
It may seem obvious, but everyone has to work to fix these problems. A unified, honest reckoning is needed to make lasting shifts in workplace norms, from what constitutes acceptable humor to what being a decent coworker means in 2018. Women who want to report incidents of sexual harassment need to know that they will receive fair and adequate support from their workplaces (which, in most industries, are still male dominated); and men who want to create healthier workplaces also need to step up and make a change, whether that means adjusting their own behavior or setting a consistent positive example.
Some of the solutions being floated to "prevent" sexual harassment have serious pitfalls. It's important to remember that what seems practical on an individual level may be completely irrational interpersonally. Ahead, we break down why some of these solutions are problematic, and what to do instead.