Why Sharing YOUR #MeToo and #IWillSpeakUp Stories is Important in #LocalGov
Over the last month, millions of women have been sharing their stories of sexual discrimination, harassment and assault online using #MeToo in response to complaints about a growing list of famous men in the news. Last month movie producer Harvey Weinstein dominated the news. This week it was the longtime Today Show host, Matt Lauer in the headlines. The stories in the news have been extremely diverse ranging from inappropriate comments and catcalling to groping and violent assaults against women (and men) by men in power over the victims. While difficult to hear, the sharing of these stories has opened up a much needed & overdue dialogue about not only how widespread the problem, but also how much women’s complaints, stories and experiences have been discounted, not believed and/or not investigated properly by private and public sector organizations across the country.
Ask any woman and most will tell you that they have experienced sexual discrimination, harassment and/or assault to varying degrees in their lifetime. This is, unfortunately, also true in local government. Many would like to believe that working under an ethics code and government transparency prevents or reduces the number of similar incidents in the public sector. Unfortunately, also not true. One would be hard pressed to have attended a fall state association meeting or a national conference post the Harvey Weinstein allegations without being a part of a #MeToo conversation. Women and men have been sharing sometimes shocking details related to incidents that have happened in local government. Many previously had not been spoken aloud by the person sharing the story until the media firestorm surrounding the celebrities in the news. These conversations have been extremely difficult for many of the storytellers. That being said, they are important and should continue to be discussed.
The League believes the best way to gain knowledge, develop new leaders and make change in local government is to share our stories. This is true for #MeToo experiences as well. By sharing these experiences, we can work together to eradicate harassment, bias and illegal behavior in our organizations. The League invites you to share YOUR#MeToo story. Your story is important and by sharing it, others can learn from it.