In an age where “social” and “political” seem to have the same meaning, I’m using this forum to talk about an issue that I consider to be social. You may disagree, and that’s okay. But it’s beside the point.
<steps on soapbox>
In a recent post on Medium.com, Automotive News’ Sharon Silke Carty wrote about sexual harassment among automotive journalists. Her article, “‘Best Practices’ for sex on the road,” should be required reading for every automotive journalist and public relations professional. Ms. Carty states that she wants to “open up a discussion about an uncomfortable subject. Sex. Or rather, the act of trying to get sex while on the road.” She goes on to say that she wants “to let the male-gendered people in our industry be aware that the female-gendered of us all have horror stories from the road of ways we’ve been bluntly approached, harassed, and/or outright mauled. Some of us talk about it when y’all are not around. We know whom to steer clear of and whom not to end up in a car with, or on an elevator with at the end of the night. The vast majority of men in this industry have manners, but there are a few who could use some rehabilitation. And there are some who stumble into a gray area because of a serious lack of skills.” The list of ten “best practices” that follows her opening statements includes anecdotes and experiences that made my hair stand on end.
I hope that everyone reads Ms. Carty’s essay. Our male-dominated industry has traditionally run high on testosterone and competitive energy, but it is the responsibility of each of us to maintain decorum and safe harbor for all genders and preferences. In a time when certain public figures dismiss insensitive statements as “locker room talk” (politics leaking in), we must remember that press trips are work trips, not pleasure trips with friends. The same rules that apply in the office also apply on the road. I realize that the relaxed environment of evening social hours often involves alcohol and casual social interaction, but we should not allow the enjoyment of press trip leisure time to lend acceptance to inappropriate words or actions. I encourage everyone of every gender and preference to treat your colleagues with respect, and furthermore, not to tolerate abusive or inappropriate behavior in others.
Thanks, Ms. Carty, for having the courage to put this issue under the spotlight. Let’s not sweep it under the rug. Treat your colleagues with respect, and demand the same from others. I welcome your comments.
<steps off soapbox; soapbox stored>