TE||The year of Hurricane Harvey



How to avoid sexual harassment


關於性騷擾的文章「An open secret」


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The year of Hurricane Harvey



The year of Hurricane Harvey



Accusations of harassment have felled some powerful men


But will that lead to a permanent change in behaviour?


FOR those who care about a woman』s right to lead her life unmolested, 2017 began badly. A man accused of groping several women took office in the White House. (Donald Trump dismissed the allegations—as well as a tape of him boasting about his behaviour, which he called mere 「locker-room talk」.)







The year is ending somewhat better. In October Harvey Weinstein, a film producer, was accused of having spent decades harassing and assaulting actresses, and using his exalted position in Hollywood to intimidate and silence anyone who got in his way. He was forced out of the firm he co-founded and is being investigated by police. Further accusations against other powerful men followed, spreading beyond Hollywood into politics, journalism and the tech industry. Dozens were sacked or stepped down. Millions of women were inspired to share their own experience of harassment, using the hashtags #MeToo, #YoTambien, #BalanceTonPorc and so on. In a fitting end to a year of comeuppances, Roy Moore, who is accused of harassment and assault by several women, including one who was 14 at the time, became the first Republican to be defeated in a Senate race in Alabama since 1992.

然而2017年末情況稍有改觀。十月,電影製片人哈維·韋恩斯坦被指控數十年來騷擾並侵犯眾多女演員,並利用其在好萊塢的威望來威脅和壓制擋路人。他被迫從他聯合創建的公司離職,現正接受警察調查。更多針對權勢的調查隨之而來,從好萊塢波及政治、新聞以及科技產業領域。數十人被解僱或者被迫離職。數百萬女性受到鼓舞,紛紛使用標籤#Metoo,#YoTambien(西班牙語:我也是),#BalanceTonPorc(法國的揭發那頭豬活動)等,分享自己遭受性騷擾的經歷。正值這報應連連的一年快要圓滿結束的日子裡,羅伊摩爾(Roy Moore)被數名女性指控性騷擾,其中包括一名事發時只有14歲的女孩。他也因此成為1992年來首個在阿拉巴馬州的參議院選舉中敗落的共和黨人。

#MeToo drew attention to a facet of women』s lives to which men had been comfortably oblivious. It showed how common harassment is, and how harmful to women』s careers. But the lesson from big social changes in the past is that more needs to happen if 2017 is to mark a permanent shift behaviour. Even now, Hurricane Harvey could blow itself out and women at work once again be assailed by all the old abuses.


Winds of change


If history is a guide, a new social norm takes root when a series of smaller changes prepare the ground (see article). First an event galvanises a group of evangelists to throw light on an injustice that is acknowledged only in the shadows—the extent of domestic abuse, say, or the fact that gay people are accused of threatening public morals when they lead perfectly ordinary lives. Sometimes new attitudes bring about a change in the law, as with the introduction of Prohibition and the reform of civil rights in America. But the new law will stick only so long as large parts of the population embrace it. Prohibition failed because too few Americans agreed that all drinking was debauched. People also need to see that transgressions are punished—either directly by the police, or, more often, by the mass of bystanders who choose to act either as enforcers or enablers. Most countries where female genital mutilation is common have laws against it. They are simply not enforced.


Prepare the ground:

To create or prepare the basics or essential foundation (for something); to pave the way (forsomething).

Cast/shed/throw light on:

To reveal information or details about something; to clarify or help people understand something.

The signs are that the #MeToo movement has reached a delicate stage. The buffeting of the past few months has certainly been cathartic. It has also brought abusers in a bewildering range of industries kicking and screaming into the open. But the novelty of seeing famous men brought down will soon fade. Before that happens, both men and women need to come to a shared understanding of what sexual harassment is and what to do about it. If too many of them conclude that complaints are being exaggerated or exploited, they will not step in to stop backsliders. Minor transgressions will be allowed to carry on. That will make it more likely that rape and sexual assault go unpunished, too.


Start with what counts as harassment. Most people can see the harm in a man trading a promotion for sex, in sexual assault or in crude groping. The divisions start with unwanted propositions, leering, sexualised put-downs and the like, particularly by a man who is in a powerful position. What men try to laugh off as a compliment, or a joke, often feels like humiliation or bullying to women—and may well be intended as such. Accusations can cast a shadow over someone』s reputation, so the lack of clarity over what is appropriate and what is not can be unsettling. Men and women may wonder how they are supposed to know whether a flirtation will be welcomed or will be the prelude to a career-threatening exposure. A lack of due process only adds to the uncertainty.

首先說說哪些行為算性騷擾。例如男上司以升職為條件要求女下屬跟其發生性行為,再如性侵犯或者對女性上下其手,凡此種種所帶來的危害都被大多數人看在眼裡。尤其是位居權勢的男性常發生此類事件,他們會先強迫女性接受自己所開出的條件,接著便色迷迷地盯著女方看,還用粗言穢語侮辱對方。 男性一般會對自己說過的話一笑置之,認為自己是在稱讚對方,或者只是開開玩笑,而無論其是否有意為之,通常這些話語都被視為對女性的侮辱或欺凌。一經指控,騷擾者的名譽會受損,所以,對錯之間的界定如果不能夠明確,則將引起人們的不安。無論男女,每個人都有這樣的困惑,即如何才能確定自己偶然的調情是為對方所接受的,且不至於遭到危及工作的曝光和指控。該有的判斷程序一旦缺失, 界定上的不確定性只會越來越多。

Despite this absence of agreement, the evidence suggests that even less serious harassment causes harm. A study published in May, which followed the careers of a cohort of women in Minnesota, found that 11% had been harassed in some way in a single year. The victims went on to earn less than other women; of those who had been verbally abused repeatedly or physically touched at least once, 79% left the company within two years. That is not only wrong—in the way that all bullying is wrong—but also a waste of valuable talent.


Once there is a consensus about what is wrong and why, the new norms must be enforced. This is unlikely to involve a change in the law. Rape and sexual assault are already illegal; discrimination and bullying at work are subject to employment law. What needs to change is the tacit complicity of managers and staff. HR departments often defend the boss—especially if he is seen as a rainmaker, as Mr Weinstein was. Managers want to keep their star employees, even if they are toxic, because they appear to do so much for the team.


Those may turn out to be false economies—certainly, they were with Mr Weinstein, who brought about the collapse of his firm. When you tot up the costs of all the women who leave, never join or work less well, the harassing star may not be so valuable after all.


A new agenda


To change behaviour, the new standards must be enforced. Women who make complaints should not be brushed off, bullied into dropping them or gagged by settlements with non-disclosure clauses—one idea is that firms should be obliged to tell investors how many such agreements they have made. The entertainment industry, which appears so far to be an arch-offender, needs to reflect hard about whether that is related to the lack of women producers and directors.


Ultimately, however, much of the task will fall to peers. Men need to be alert and to step in where necessary. Women need to stand up for each other. Too many people have been blind to a problem hidden in plain sight. But Hurricane Harvey has raged through 2017 and ignorance is no longer an excuse.






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