Letter from CEO regarding Sexual Abuse & Harassment
Dear Members of the Wayside Community,
A couple of weeks ago I was with a group of men and women and the subject of the shocking allegations against Harvey Weinstein – and now many others – came up. I made the stupid statement that I was surprised by the number of women in my small Facebook world who had posted “Me too.” The words were barely out before I realized that I might have just caused some real pain in a re-traumatizing way. And that I sounded like a fool, because of course I know that there was absolutely nothing to be surprised about. Of course not. We all know. Including men. We all know.
Personally, it is greatly humiliating that most of these offenders look like me. These horrific stories of abuse involving clergy, doctors, entertainers, teachers, coaches, family members, ceos, and – yes – presidents, always seem to involve men of power and privilege. And how cowardly it is to take advantage of young women and men who are vulnerable to the power a man holds – in status and of course often physical intimidation. Too many of these men were born with privilege, achieved a measure of societal success, and think the rules don’t apply to them. This along with too many terrible and mixed messages in our culture about violence and sex, and it would be no surprise if every woman were to post “Me too.”
So I am at a loss of what to say to victimized women. But I do know what to say to these men. Stop being such pigs, stop thinking you are special and entitled. Stop the perverse thoughts that just because women may be silent means they consent. They don’t. They are probably petrified because you are behaving like a monster.
Ultimately, I just feel so mad, so sad, and so sorry that so many have had to go thru this.
Now, to speak of our work here at Wayside. I say to the male staff – please be as focused as you can in making sure that every young man you work with always hears the right messages from you and your co-workers about sexual offending or harassment. And that also means not being silent when the wrong messages are given by others. Of course no man should ever sexually offend, intimidate, or harass; but we also shouldn’t tolerate language, jokes or comments that communicate a lack of respect for anyone. Please remember that we are always role models for the young men we serve – as well as for our work colleagues, friends and any other man we come in contact with — in everything we do, or don’t do.
As men, we have to do better. Much, much better.
Eric L. Masi, Ed.D
President & CEO