Ryan Seacrest, never one to sit back and stay quiet, is speaking out about the sexual harassment allegations that were levied against him late last year. Last week, he was cleared by an external investigation, which stated that there was "insufficient evidence to substantiate allegations against Seacrest."
In an open letter, Seacrest talked about how it felt to hear about the allegations.
"In November, I received a letter from a lawyer representing a former show stylist. She claimed that I mistreated her more than a decade ago when we worked together. This arrived during an unprecedented public reckoning by women in our industry and beyond, courageously coming forward to share their stories, many of them heartbreaking. These women sought to bring attention to the systemic gender inequality that has occurred for decades. I was — and am — amazed at their bravery," he wrote.
"To have my workplace conduct questioned was gut-wrenching. I’ve always aimed to treat all of my colleagues with honesty, respect, kindness and compassion. Yet, I knew, regardless of the confidence I had that there was no merit to the allegations, my name would likely soon appear on the lists of those suspected of despicable words and deeds. The pressures of our overflowing newsfeeds would insist on it. I absolutely want to be part of the change, the progress, that is coming. I did not want to be a postscript of evidence of its cause."
He went on to explain how important he thinks it is that we presume innocence for those accused, writing, "At a time when improper interactions between men and women, particularly in the workplace, are part of a national conversation, we must find a way to ensure that everyone — the public, private and public institutions, accusers and alleged accused — is given the opportunity for a swift and fair review."
He then went on to say this: "My job is to listen. Beyond listening, which I will continue in earnest, I also will ask questions and try to help voices be heard. It isn’t lost on me that my platforms — radio, TV, social media — can be powerful conduits for change."
But that's wrong. Seacrest's job is not simply to listen. In fact, listening to women when they tell the harrowing stories of the abuse, marginalization and dismissal they have faced is not a brave or important act — it's the baseline for being a decent human being. As a man with power and privilege most women can only dream of, Seacrest has a much harder job. He needs to use his power to take actual action to change the culture of harassment and abuse in the entertainment industry. He doesn't seem to realize this.
Another thing Seacrest doesn't seem to realize is that women very rarely make false accusations about men who mistreat them. We often have more to lose than to gain by speaking up. Women are historically blamed and vilified for accusing men of bad behavior. And when there's no evidence to support their claims, as there generally isn't when it's one woman's word against one man's, our credibility is destroyed, regardless of whether there was truth to the allegations.
Just because an investigation did not find evidence to support this claim against Seacrest doesn't mean he's off the hook. Men simply don't think about their words the same way women do. They think nothing of the jokes and offhand comments they make that can make women deeply uncomfortable because women are conditioned to see the possibility of danger in every interaction with men. Instead of speaking up about how difficult it has been to have his character questioned, now is the time for Seacrest to examine his and other men's behavior and actually commit to making changes.
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