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MeToo. What's Next?

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Last week, Time Magazine named #metoo as the person of the year.

They are honoring the women - and men - who have come forward to report and talk about sexual harassment since October when high profile actresses told their stories about Harvey Weinstein.

We live in “Sin City,” whose slogan is, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

But how much of what “stays in Vegas” are victims of harassment? 

Jan Jones Blackhurst is the executive vice president for Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility at Caesars Entertainment and former Nevada Public Radio board member. She told KNPR's State of Nevada that while that slogan is a successful one it does not give permission for ANYthing.

“I don’t think it was any way saying it’s okay to come here be a predator," she said.

Jones Blackhurst also pushed back against the idea that Las Vegas' sexy image makes harassment worse or less likely to be dealt with.

“A customer is king until he crosses a line," she said, "I think, at least the company I work for, goes out of their way to make sure that our employees feel like we have their back.”

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She said the executives she works with are not trying to create an environment where men feel it is okay to prey on women. She said that environment can be found anywhere in America.

State Senator Pat Spearman agrees that entertainment atmosphere created in Las Vegas doesn't give a person permission.

“I don’t think that I would conflate our status as an entertainment capital with someone saying we give license to sexual predators," she said.

In addition, Spearman said it's not about the place but the person who is harassing.

“It is the person who decides to do this and that’s where the liability, that’s where the onus has to be with respect to sexual harassment," she said.

Author Peggy Orenstein, who has written about how girls and boys learn about sex and gender, said 'sexual harassment' can come in different forms from the quid pro quo of demanding sexual favors in exchange for a job or promotion to creating a hostile work environment where it is difficult for someone to do her job because of sexualized comments or physical contact.

She said it is not just about sex or power but it is also about discrimination.

“It’s also about discrimination against women and their ability to either do the job they were hired for or be hired for the job they want to do,” she said.

Women rarely come forward for fear of serious reprisals. And in some cases public humiliation.

“The punishment of women who have who have come forward to complain about sexual harassment has been swift and it’s been extreme," she said.

Women who have broken their silence often lose their jobs or opportunities for work. But as the number of victims who have come forward grows, there is less fear of reprisal, Jones Blackhurst said.

And Spearman said there needs to be mechanisms in place at the Legislature and in Congress when politicians are accused to not only protect the accuser but to maintain due process for the person who is being accused.

Spearman was one of the lawmakers who was contacted about allegations of harassment by former State Senator Mark Manendo. She praised Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford for his response to accusations against Manendo.

Spearman said addressing the problem of harassment is one of the big reasons she has fought so hard to see the Equal Rights Amendment passed in Nevada and other states.

“That is something that needs to be in the Constitution and if it’s in the Constitution then people who are harassed and people who are put down because of their gender… then that gives them another tool, if you will, to make sure it doesn’t happen again," she said.

From NPR: When Black Women's Stories Of Sexual Abuse Are Excluded From The National Narrative 

Guests

Jan Jones, Executive Vice President, Public Policy & Corporate Responsibility at Caesars Entertainment; Arte Nathan, former head of human resource, Wynn Las Vegas; State Senator Pat Spearman; Peggy Orenstein, author