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Opening Monologue: The Sexual Harassment Show

The following is a transcript of the opening monologue I do at the top of each show on WGN Radio. My show, the Saturday Night Special, is a single-topic program on which I discuss one topic all night. This week, I discussed sexual harassment.

The term “sexual harassment,” while coined in the 1970s in academia, still wasn’t really widely recognized or understood until it entered more mainstream consciousness when Anita Hill testified against Clarence Thomas in the early 1990s.

And since then, it’s steadily been a topic of conversation around workplace issues, and as recent headlines involving Fox news Channel indicate, we still haven’t made all that much progress on the matter,. At least not enough progress in order to solve and eradicate it.

It takes a lot of forms, too. It can be an unwelcome advance, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, a request for reward or benefit in return for sexual acts, verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature and in most modern legal contexts, it’s illegal. Yet, while laws exist, they, like many laws, are subject to interpretation.

Some will dismiss the whole thing, saying people can’t take a joke or that peolpe have gotten a case of political correctness– but

The very definition of sexual harassment, in just about every setting, uses a key word: unwelcome. It’s an unwelcome advance. that word implies that the intention of the person doing the harassing isn’t up for debate as much as how the recipient feels about it.

And, yet, intent holds a key role in conversations about it.

But, also, what arguablty holds an even mroe important role is about our attitudes around it. Whether it’s outright dismissal– whether from women one-upping each other abotu who is tougher for having igmored it, comments from the white house, or like a male celebrity recently tweeted abotu getting sexualyl harassed and welcoming it, as if people being harassed should be grateful for hte attention, or th that only wimps report it.

Nonsense.

At the end of the day, it’s more complicated that most of us would like to believe. But the first step to changing that is to examine our own attitudes about it. So, that’s what we’ll aim to do tonight– take a look at our language, laws, and attuitudes around sexual harassment.

I’m Amy Guth and that’s all coming up tonight on the Saturday Night Special on 720 WGN.

(Break for show opener music)

Tonight we are talking about sexual harassment — a topic that might seem pretty straightforward on the surface, but just under that surface, it reveals itself to be a lot more complicated that we might realize.

We’ll be joined by many experts to talk over many different aspects of it with us– a professor of leadership studies, a jornalist who wrote about the not-very-effective use of sexual harassmetn hotlines in the workplace, and another who wrote about the perils of female uber drives. We’ll also have an expert joining us to talk abuot the legal and ethical issues in the workplace for both employees an empployers.

We’ll be right back to get the conversation underway, on 720-WGN.