"So much (sexual) harassment training is like an episode of The Office."
This quote, credited to Victoria Lipnic, acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is lifted from the Time magazine cover story that named "The Silence Breakers" its 2017 Person of the Year. "The Silence Breakers" are those “individuals who set off a national reckoning over the prevalence of sexual harassment.” Many of these brave whistleblowers were empowered to tell their stories via social media using the hashtag #MeToo.
Six women are featured on the cover of the magazine, but only five of their faces are shown. Jutting into the bottom right corner of the frame is the elbow of a woman whose identity has been concealed. While the name of the woman was known to the writers of the article, Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal stated, "the anonymous woman’s arm also represents the many women and men who are afraid to come forward with their own stories."
Considering Ms. Lipnic's choice for her televisual representation of the insouciance many corporations have towards sexual harassment policies, I propose adding the name Pam (Beesly) Halpert to the list of those victimized by systemically-ignored sexual harassment. I suggest we consider #PamToo.
Over the course of nine+ years of The Office, Pam was the primary recipient of incessant inappropriate behavior perpetrated by many of her male counterparts in the workspace occupied by the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Taking the lead on many of these incidents was the manager of the branch, Michael Scott.
The Office is a biting satire of the mundane, everyday inner workings of an office, which sadly, also includes the inappropriate behavior many suffer. After screening it in a contemporary context, however, it also normalizes the very type of harassment the silence breakers aimed to bring to light by its soft-around-the edges representation of the primary assailant, Michael Scott. Scott's behavior was often rationalized by his profound personal struggles with loneliness, which stem from his failure to start a family of his own. That he was permitted to leave on his own terms, despite hours of footage documenting his shameful conduct, speaks to just how powerless someone like Pam is in that situation.