Sexual allegations spark conversation, confusion

Lauer Reax

STATEWIDE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- For the second week in a row, the world of morning network television has been rocked with the sudden firing of an anchor, this time, the Today Show's Matt Lauer; and it's sparked another big conversation.

"Nowadays you can't say the wrong thing to a woman without getting fired." Bangor resident Ian Griffeth said. He says he has nothing but respect for women and that sexual harassment is wrong, however he feels there might be something else behind all of the recent allegations.

"You gotta watch what you say from now on," Griffeth said. I mean it's just the way the world is coming to, everyone is getting very sensitive.

However, University of Maine's sociology professor Amy Blackstone does not agree with Griffeth at all. In fact, she feels that women coming forward is a good thing and shows progress. "It's certainly not a new phenomenon, and it's certainly not due to greater sensitivity," Blackstone said. "I think what's new is that we are talking about it."

Blackstone has been part of a research group with the University of Minnesota for the past 20 years. The group focuses on sexual harassment in the work place. "The more that we talk about this the more comfortable people will be speaking out about it and reflecting on how their behavior might have affected others." Blackstone said.

Griffeth says he wonders what is too far in the work place and if anyone is safe. "As far as going up and telling a girl she looks good, there should be no problem in that." Griffeth said.

But Blackstone says what women are shedding light on is much more than a simple compliment. 

"All the discussion of what's happening right now may cause a person to think about, well ok, what is harassment? And am I harassing a person if I compliment them?" Blackstone said. "But, if we really look at the complaints that have been raised and that we are talking about, it's not incidents of people being told they have beautiful eyes."

© 2017 WLBZ-TV


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