The actions of men will be “the final tipping point,” Gretchen Carlson told Brunswick Upper School students.
The nationally recognized news anchor and Brunswick parent, whose own highly publicized actions in filing a sexual-harassment lawsuit against her employer opened a floodgate and landed her on the cover of Time magazine, addressed the entire Upper School and answered students’ questions during a special assembly on Tuesday, January 30.
“That’ll be the final thing that brings this full circle,” she said, “when men and women together say, ‘I got your back, and I’m going to speak up when I see that.’
“There’s not only one fix,” she said. “But it’s one piece that, I think, will be dramatic.”
Carlson shared her own stories and experiences of sexual harassment and assault from her career in journalism and beyond — as she does in her new bestselling book Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back — as well as those from other women in the professional world and from all walks of life.
But her most significant message, beyond defining what is sexual harassment and assault and what’s not, came in her pleas to the audience of Brunswick boys and young men to be part of the solution — to be part of ending the “tsunami” our culture is experiencing.
“Sexual assault and harassment aren’t women’s issues,” Carlson said. “They are men’s issues. And being a man doesn’t start when you leave for college or get your first job.
“It starts with you now,” she said.
“It starts when you break the man code and become a protector. It starts when you respect and honor the women in your life.”
Carlson called on all students to begin with themselves — and to consider the potential power and hurt behind their words and actions.
She also encouraged them to take the next step — to help others.
“The best way you can do that is not to be a bystander,” said Carlson, who also has a daughter at Greenwich Academy. “A bystander is someone who stays on the sidelines when bullying and harassment are happening before them. It’s someone who doesn’t speak up.
“Real men speak up and take on these issues with courage.”