Over the past several days, news has appeared that HSUS is under investigation for having tolerated a culture of sexual harassment and sexual exploitation. The most recent report appeared on Tuesday, January 30, in "Politico" and can be found here: [https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/30/humane-society-sexual-harassment-allegations-investigation-216553]
In that story, Paul Shapiro, formerly of HSUS, is quoted. Much was left unsaid. My beloved colleague pattrice jones has offered a summary of a conversation three of us (the talented lauren Ornelas was the third person) had with Paul earlier this month. What follows are pattrice's words summarizing our conversation and our recommendations. I agree completely with her characterization of the conversation and of what our expectations are for men who have been abusive to women in the animal rights movement.
On Saturday January 13, Carol Adams, lauren Ornelas, and I had a conference call with Paul Shapiro, at his request. We all agreed that the conversation was not confidential.
In the course of the call, Paul did acknowledge the accuracy of the charges lodged against him at HSUS, although he called his behavior in one case inappropriate but not an advance when the woman did experience his behavior as advances. At no point did he demonstrate empathy for or even awareness of the feelings of that woman or the other women he hurt. Throughout the call, Paul’s focus was on himself rather than on the women he had hurt or the hurtful impact of his acts on the organization for which he worked.
Here is how I summarized our recommendations to Paul in an email message the next day:
1. Publicly own up to all past behavior that constituted sexual harassment or creation of a hostile work environment for women, including but not limited to the behavior that led six women at HSUS to file a complaint against you.
1.a Do this in a way that demonstrates awareness of and empathy for the feelings of the targeted women.
1.b. Do this in a way that demonstrates awareness that you hurt animals by interfering with the work of women trying to help animals.
1.c. Do this in a way that demonstrates awareness of the role male privilege has played and continues to play in your professional life. In other words, don’t say, “I made a dumb mistake by…” Instead say something like, “I abused my power by…."
2. Voluntarily refrain from any applause-seeking behaviors until such time as you are certain that any women you have hurt would not be sickened to see you getting accolades.
3. Voluntarily refrain from seeking any elevated positions (in terms of salary, supervision of others, or any other kind of “leadership”) in the vegan or animal advocacy movements. Continue to do the work without such perks, and be willing to do the kind low-level work often delegated to women.
4. Do anything else that any of your victims, including but not limited to those six women, have told you or told others that they would like you to do.
I do believe the gist of those recommendations to be valid for any man accused of such misconduct, and so I am sharing them with the hope that we can speak in a unified voice when asked what we are to do with such men: Expect them to do these things, and withhold from them any praise or power in the interim.