January 20, 2018

From our Chair, Tung Nguyen:

I've been trying to figure out what to say about the sexual harassment and assault issue, because it's tricky for a man. But here are my conclusions:
1) For men who don't know "how to act" in the current environment, my suggestion is that you should act as if your daughter/sister/wife/mother were in the room. It's a good rule of thumb for any interaction in general, but particularly more so when there is a power differential.
2) For men who are worried about false accusations because they are men living a regular life, please use that emotion as the basis of empathy for women, who are fearful of harassment and assault because they are women living a regular life. The odds of any man being accused, much less falsely accused, of harassment is less than being in a car accident.
3) For men who are afraid to speak out in support of women, imagine if the things the women are talking about were happening to your daughter/sister/wife/mother. The odds are good that they have happened. Would you be silent then? How would you feel if they happened, and your male friends act as if they did not?
4) Aziz Ansari's situation has been used as an example of how this has gone too far. I think it illustrates how it has not gone far enough. Under the assumption that it was a very bad date with Aziz not being able to pick up non-verbal cues, we are all allowed to complain about bad and clueless dates. I have seen in movies and in real life how men talk about women in much worse ways, especially when there are no women around. Yes, the accuser had the power to stop and walk out. But she also has a right to tell her story. And men who genuinely are clueless about how to behave now know that they need to have some intelligence about non-verbal cues. Learn about non-verbal cues and you will get along better with your daughter/sister/ wife/mother and half of the people in the world. What's so bad about that?

That said, I am asking all of my sisters to tell me, and men they know, when we are acting as if we are clueless. We should all strive to learn and to improve no matter who we are, and it's better to learn the lesson from a friend.