I mean, I like Tony Robbins. I like how he’s literally a giant and goes all in on shocking people out of their stuckness.
But did you see what he said about his buddies telling him they’re not hiring attractive women anymore? According to Robbins, “more than a dozen” men in positions of power told him they were hesitant to hire “attractive” women because of #MeToo.
Robbins argued that women are using #MeToo to gain significance and attack and destroy other people, and now men are protecting themselves by not hiring attractive women.
He later issued a public apology and acknowledged that he has a lot to learn about the issue. So, that’s good.
There is so much incorrect with the assumptions that Robbins made in his statement that it’s hard to even know where to begin addressing it. But, I think his assumptions are also common, so they’re important to take a look at.
I’m going to question a few of the assumptions below, but I’d love to hear what you get from this. More than anything I’d love hear your experience with harassment (if you have one) and see if there is anything I can do to help you with it. Rest assured that I will not feel attacked by your story, unlike the delicate men Robbins is talking about.
Is telling your story an attack?
One of the assumptions that Robbins implies is that it is dangerous for women to tell their stories. If you think this through further, it plays into the common misperception that women disproportionately lie about abuse and harassment.
The FBI crime statistics show that people make false allegations regarding sexual crimes at the same rate as they make false allegations of any other crime.
It is simply not true that there is rampant lying about sexism or sex-based crimes. Plus, women are so widely punished for telling their stories that they have even more disincentive than people reporting property crimes.
Also, it has historically been rare that a woman’s story of harassment or abuse has made that much of a difference in her abuser’s life or career. It is true that recently we have seen a handful of prominent men face some consequences for their harassment and abuse, but in my years of practice, women consistently come forward to tell their stories to protect themselves and other women.
Cultures of silence promote violence.
Telling your story helps you and other people create safety. It is simply wrong to say a woman offering her story is an attack. When people harass and intimidate others, the rest of us should have the opportunity to decide if we want them around – do we want to do business with employees, business owners, celebrities, politicians who act that way? Many of us do not. A woman telling her story does not create the harassment, it just shines light on it to keep all of us safe.
Are attractive women more likely to make up stories of harassment?
No. What? I think this comes from the idea that if a man hires an attractive woman, he will HAVE to flirt with her, and then she’ll “take it the wrong way.” So, you know what an easy solution to that is? Don’t flirt with her. Take Anne Clarke’s advice and imagine she is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He’s attractive. How would you handle working with him?
Not confusing. Pretty girls do not lie at a higher rate than ugly girls.
In fact, some research indicates that women who are traditionally perceived as attractive are more likely to minimize harassment experiences because they experience harassment so often that they are less sensitive to it. Now, that doesn’t mean they deserve to experience more harassment or that they’re lucky. It just means that if you’re in the privileged place to make hiring decisions, and you want someone with a high tolerance of bad behavior, you’re more likely to get that with an “attractive woman.”
But, don’t do that. Instead, hire the most qualified person and don’t harass people.
Are attractive women more likely to be harassed?
This is the wrong question to ask.
I’ll give you two guesses why.
Okay, I’ll just tell you. Women don’t get harassed because they’re pretty. Harassment is not a compliment or a reward for having a genetically desirable body.
Women get harassed because a man thinks harassing behavior is acceptable. Women get harassed because those of us around her tolerate a man’s harassing behavior.
I’m being generic, and so I apologize for that – women can definitely be harassers too.
Are ugly men more likely to harass women? Are ugly people more likely to harass?
Should we avoid hiring ugly men because they might be more likely to harass women to make up for their low self-worth?
I’m still a no on that. I think that the idea that an attractive woman is more likely to experience harassment is really getting at the idea that women who stand out are more likely to be harassed. Maybe women who speak up, who show up, who shine in life and excel are more likely to draw attention – including negative attention.
That could be true, but does that mean that we want to avoid hiring women who shine to protect employees who might harass them?
Our communities, companies, and countries are already suffering from this kind of backwards thinking. It’s time for harassers to be responsible for their behavior and for employees who excel, hot or not, to have at least the same opportunities as their harassers.
It is not true that attractive women are suffering from #MeToo, but it is true that all of us are suffering from a culture that would silence women and punish them for telling their stories.
It takes real strength to be honest, and the women I know and work with are examples of that strength. Thanks for speaking up!
For a free copy of my book, Career Defense 101: Is Your Career Safe From Sexism? visit www.CareerDefense101.com