LeAnn Wilson McGuire Writing her Right Brain column

Right Brain

by LeAnn Wilson McGuire

“Say it isn’t so, Matt Lauer!”

That’s what I thought when I turned on the TODAY show yesterday and learned that my favorite anchor had been fired for sexual harassment in the workplace. Matt Lauer has been a vital part of my morning routine for 20 years. A trusted voice delivering the latest news. Soothing background noise as I readied myself for work.

But Matt is guilty. And he’s not alone. Charlie Rose, Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and a host of other men have been found guilty, too. It feels a bit like the 1692 Salem Witch Trials that started when a few young girls claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused a local woman of practicing witchcraft. When all was said and done, more than two hundred people were accused, twenty of whom were executed. Unlike the Salem witch trials, however, we have little reason to doubt these victims.

What woman would want to accuse her male co-worker of inappropriate behavior? It’s embarrassing. It’s demeaning. It’s a career killer. And it’s just plain awkward – especially when he’s your superior.

Everyone who works has witnessed sexism in the workplace. It’s almost inevitable. Men and women are different. They don’t see things the same way. They don’t think the same way. One is not greater than or less than the other. We are simply designed differently. The whole “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” thing is true.

Both sexes have felt uncomfortable when a co-worker of the opposite sex makes what s/he thinks is a “humorous” comment. But it’s one thing to make an off-color joke at the office. It’s quite another to make unwanted sexual advances.

Matt Lauer didn’t just make lewd comments. He took action. He sexually harassed multiple women. He sent sex toys to coworkers. He exposed himself. He locked female coworkers in his office using a security button under his desk.

Matt Lauer was the top anchor on the TODAY show – maybe even the top anchor at NBC. He had an astounding amount of power– as did the men listed above. This kind of behavior is a total abuse of power.

Let’s not make it worse by blaming the victims.