Image Credits: Brigitte Lacombe | Amazon
With the recent revelations about Harvey Weinstein coming to light, people are talking about sexual harassment in the workplace on every show and every platform. That makes it a serendipitous coincidence that this week, the week of October 16th, is the publication of Gretchen Carlson’s new book, Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back. Though she was a well-known face on Fox News, she made headlines when she came out and accused former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment. Carlson coming forward and doing so led to a chain reaction of other women coming out with claims against him. Ultimately, he was removed from his position at Fox News. Gretchen Carlson is so much more than a woman who had the courage to speak out. She’s a respected journalist, a mother of two children, and a former Miss America. She risked her career to speak up, but we’re glad she did. In her new book, Be Fierce, Carlson shares the lessons she has learned so that women, and men, can take back their power from people who might abuse it through sexual harassment.
There have been a lot of people talking about sexual harassment, but not every voice out there is informed, sensitive to the victims, or aware of their own relation to the issue. Gretchen Carlson sets the record straight, saying, “Make no mistake—sexual harassment is not just about sex. It’s really about power. Sexual harassers feel they can get away with it because they believe they’re the ones holding all the cards. It doesn’t occur to them that the women they’re harassing have power too.”
Be Fierce is a book that comes from the heart and punches you in the gut. It is likely that as young women we have experienced sexual harassment in our own lives. This book provides a great well of advice on how to handle the situation as it arises, how to make it stop, and how to go forward with your allegations to make sure it never happens to someone again. Some of her best advice on handling the situation as it arises it to keep your “eyes wide open” and knowing your rights in the workplace. From there, know “document problems” as they arise. A lot of the comments that accusers receive when they come forward is that they have no proof, so keep the proof as you receive it. Keep text messages, emails, and photograph if they will help you prove what has happened. My personal favorite was “take offense.” Too often, people follow up rude and inappropriate comments with “no offense intended.” It doesn’t matter if they intended offense or not, if you’re offended, take offense and say so. Carlson’s book follows up this advice with some seriously great examples of how to shut down those situations.
One of the most important chapters in this book is called “Men Who Defend” and it walks through the way that men can support those who have been sexually harassed and work to build a culture where that is no longer accepted. Often in situations like this, women feel like all the men around them are potential offenders, and often men are afraid to speak up and be told that their thoughts and experience are not valid. This chapter does a lot to look at Carlson’s experiences after coming forward with her allegations. As she writes in chapter seven, “These men [who had stopped her on the street to thank her for coming forward] helped me realize what I had done was important not just for women, but for everyone—men included.” As she points out quite precisely, harassment is not just an issue for men, but a societal issue, and women alone cannot solve it. They need men on board too, and finding men who defend women and hold them up as equals is crucial in this fight.’