Amorphous New Rules

And Anxious ‘Enforcers’

A recent and dramatic increase in awareness of sexual harassment and assault (#MeToo) has happily reduced much inappropriate conduct in the modern workplace. It has also created a new world of anxieties about the rules necessary to avoid giving offense.

A recent business meeting evidently went awry at the introduction of a prominent news story in the Washington Post about a woman impregnated (knowingly) with her OB/GYN’s sperm (unknowingly). The concern was that someone in the room might have been so offended that they might bring action against the hosts of the conversation, which could be costly, distracting and counterproductive.

The first obvious point to be made clear is that the rules surrounding such exchanges are woefully unclear — a circumstance that, left unaddressed, may ultimately overwhelm both sides of the issues.  

Short of an official rulebook (impossible!) or at least MUCH clearer guidelines, the terms of free, open and productive conversation inevitably will be left in limbo, to the detriment of all.

 I wrote of this challenge last in May of 2020 and see little evidence of progress since then. There are few well educated people today who disagree with the basic premises and goals of the #MeToo movement.  At the same time there are too many people –both pro and con –today who have not yet plumbed the depth of confusion surrounding this subject. The result has been unnecessary and unwarranted confusion on all sides.

The time to clarify this murky situation is long past!

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