Compassionately Demanding Reforms

Blog by Associate Frank Martens, OPA

I have a friend who thinks it is funny to say, “She wants me” or “She wants you” whenever an attractive woman looks our way. I can’t get a haircut without hearing the latest sexist, racist or otherwise crude joke or remark. My secretary once accused me of disrespecting her as a woman.

I also confess that I have a habit of touching women, perhaps more than men, on the shoulder to get their attention or as an act of affection. During my career as a hearing officer for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission I heard many cases of sexual harassment or, as we called them, “he said, she said” cases. That is why corroborating evidence was so important.

In spite of this I was shocked to see a trickle of sexual harassment accusations turn into a flood sweeping over well-known politicians, athletes, preachers, high-level executives, actors, broadcasters and others. It is an epidemic that does not spare Republicans, Democrats, liberals or conservatives.

Some of the accused have accepted the blame, apologized to their victims, resigned from lucrative positions, and retreated from public life. Others have steadfastly maintained their innocence attacking their accusers and relying on the criminal burden of proof, “innocent until proven guilty.”

So what are we as Christians to do?  We can pray for the victims, and in the future, we can demand reforms that provide avenues for women in the workplace to complain without fear of retaliation, and work to change our culture of sexism. We can condemn the actions of the victimizers or alleged perpetrators. I believe that as Christians we also have to pray for those who victimize and support their rehabilitation as we support prisoners, addicts and others in recovery. Jesus calls us to be compassionate and forgiving.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

3 responses to “Compassionately Demanding Reforms

  1. Thank you, Frank, for having the courage to address this issue. I would agree with Marie, above, it is good to see a man address this issue.

  2. Thank you, Frank, for your acknowledgement of this current awakening of our nation to the scourge of sexual harassment. I am so pleased when a man, not just women, speak out on behalf of the victims. And I agree that we should also pray for the alleged perpetrators — and those who have admitted their past sins. I note your confidence that they can be rehabilitated. I hope you are right.

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