As the ongoing wave of sexual harassment charges against everybody keep piling up, I’m starting to wonder if it’s time to hit the brakes.  It is getting a bit out of hand, isn’t it?  Has #MeToo gone a bit, dare I say it, hysterical?  I first started wondering this a couple of weeks ago, when even Elie Wiesel was implicated in some ass-grabbery. It’s one thing for me to enjoy watching Hollywood dirtbags like Harvey Weinstein twist on the hook.  But a dead activist?  Ehhhhhh.  I’m not liking it.

It has to be emphasized that I’m not saying I don’t necessarily believe the victim or think that she should be discouraged from telling her story.  I certainly didn’t say so when this particular allegation surfaced, but since then?  The hits just keep coming.

I haven’t shifted from my belief that Roy Moore probably did engage in sexually predatory behavior with young girls at some point in his life.  I also think that there’s good reason to believe that at least one of the accusers is lying.  Even though I’m inclined to believe that some of the allegations against Moore are true, it doesn’t mean that I think “all victims must be believed.”  That Gloria Allred is involved in this matter gives me pause. I don’t give her much credibility.  She’s a hack.  I wish that there was someone else, someone less untrustworthy, who was representing these women.  Truthfully, if it’s true that this “yearbook evidence” against Moore is fabricated, Allred should be disbarred.  I don’t favor automatically believing all “victims.”  I’m sorry if that upsets anyone.  Some women lie.  It’s just the way it is.

Most tellingly, I’m torn over the allegations against Al Franken.  Sure, he did it.  The photographic evidence doesn’t lie, but why should his case be excused when so many other prominent people are suffering the consequences of their actions, even when those actions often have less evidence and are less serious?  Honestly, I’ve read a couple of Franken’s books and even though I think he has a warped sense of humor (like me), I also believe that he’s a devoted family man and wasn’t out to harm any women.

So where am I with all of this?  I’ll tell you what I think and you can agree or disagree.

The issue, as I see it, is where sex has been used against women as power.  Has this happened?  Sure, all the time.  I’m sure there are times I could be accused of it.  It’s exactly why I’m concerned about the consequences of all of these allegations.  There could in fact be a circumstance in my own life–and many of you other men–in which I used power to obtain sex.  Should I have my livelihood ruined over it?  The response to situations like Franken’s and Weinstein’s leads me to believe that the answer is “yes”.  I may not have meant any harm (and I can’t think of any specific examples so I’m saying this theoretically), but I don’t know what those women may have believed at the time, right?

Wait, am I saying that I’m a bad guy who has sexually abused women?  No.  In fact, I could even argue that I’m a victim.  True story here.  One night in circa 2000 AD, I was out at a club with my sister and some of her friends.  One of them was a gay man.  We’ll call him Thomas.  Everybody had a great time and we got extremely drunk.  Thomas hit it especially hard that evening.  Near the end of the night, Thomas was sitting next to me in a booth and got it into his head that I was the sexiest thing in his world at the moment.  He grabbed onto me and stuck his tongue in my ear.

Be me, in a bar, with a gay man’s tongue sticking in my ear and I’m not into it at all.  This is a sexual assault, isn’t it?  Well, yeah.  I guess it is technically.  But was it?  That’s tricky, I suppose.

How did I handle it?  I simply placed my hand on his forehead and pushed it back.  Thomas closed his eyes, passed out, and laid his head down on my shoulder.  He passed out.  About ten minutes later, he threw up all over the table and was asked to leave by a bouncer.  I helped him to his feet and we all left for the night.  I walked him to a friend’s car and put him in the passenger seat.  He got home without further incident.

Later on, my sister heaped praise upon me for not, I don’t know, killing Thomas for molesting me.  I didn’t think any praise was warranted.  Thomas was a small guy.  No threat to me at all. Think of a hobbit trying to sexually harass an Uruk-Hai.  That’s what this situation was like.  I certainly could have crushed the little gay dude if I’d wanted to.  I didn’t because he was a friend of my sister’s, we had hung out before and he’d never done anything like this before, and there was simply no justification for harming him when he had simply been drunk and badly misinterpreted a situation.  My sister still respects me for gently controlling the situation.  I don’t think she should.  You know why?

The reason is that Thomas was never a threat to me.  He had no power over me.  Thomas couldn’t overpower me in his wildest dreams.  Man for man, I wasn’t in any danger.  It was easy for me to assert my power in that situation.  I was never afraid of any consequences for rejecting his advances.  It was simply a matter of deciding that I wasn’t going to allow him to make out with me.  There was nothing to it.  But what about women in most situations?

Weinstein’s victims couldn’t defend themselves because they knew he would determine the future course of their careers.  It’s the same with Spacey’s victims.  And Roy Moore’s victims?  Who would believe a teenage girl over a sitting judge?  These women faced actual consequences for refusing the advances of the horny men who were hitting on them, didn’t they?   Unlike me, they couldn’t simply push them aside.  They didn’t have the power that I did in my circumstance to just say “no”.

I don’t think of myself as a “victim”. though some would probably argue that I could.  This is only because I recognize that I could say “no” when others could not.  Even though Franken’s victim was passed out and couldn’t say “no”, it seems to me that what he did was more juvenile than an assertion of power on his part.  I’d suggest that we’re holding Franken to a standard of behavior for a comedian in 2006 than a politician in 2017 and that’s why I am inclined to give him a pass.  Do you think I’m wrong for that?

My suggestion is that we hold a Truth and Reconciliation Committee for sexual harassers, similar to that conducted for participants of South Africa’s apartheid regime.  Maybe allow those who used women as sex toys the opportunity to explain what they did and provide the real truth in exchange for amnesty.  One judge in Ohio already tried this approach in Ohio and it hasn’t worked out very well for him, but I still suggest that it might be the most responsible way to handle this societal problem before millions of professional and personal lives are wrecked.

Al Franken?  I think what he did was juvenile and it certainly was inappropriate to do to a woman who was passed out and simply looking for a movie role.  But was this an example of depraved sexual harassment?  I’m reluctant to say yes.  I’m speaking as someone who is ideologically opposed to Franken and I’m saying no.  Franken, for his political faults, has always come across to me as a man devoted to his wife and kids who also has a twisted sense of humor.  I don’t personally believe he was out to harm women for his own sexual gratification.  I’m a Republican who’s saying this.

What we have to look for is whether the offender was in a position of power over the victim and whether there were consequences for her refusing to consent to any sexual acts.  Where those conditions existed, we have to determine whether or not it merits the destruction of the offender.  In the world of comedy as it existed ten years ago, I don’t think it’s fair to judge today’s ultra highly-sensitive standards against that time’s.  I just don’t.  Sorry if that upsets you.  I just think that the definition of “quid pro quo sexual harassment” has been stretched to the limit and it’s going to get out of hand if we don’t clarify it now.

What do you say?  Do we need to crucify Al Franken, Louis CK, and whoever else gets revealed as a sexual harasser over the next week?  I don’t really understand what is to be gained from doing so, but I’d like to know what useful purpose is to be gained from burning men for every perceived sexual offense that they may have committed since the 1970’s regardless of whether or not he was in a position of power to influence that woman’s choices to coerce her to do something she didn’t want to do.  Here’s your chance to make the argument.

12 comments

  1. Franken, for his political faults, has always come across to me as a man devoted to his wife and kids who also has a twisted sense of humor. I don’t personally believe he was out to harm women for his own sexual gratification.

    Let me try something.

    Hillary Clinton, for her political faults, has always come across to me as a woman devoted to this country who also has a twisted sense of duty. I don’t personally believe she was out to harm the country through her own negligence.

    Nope. Neither fly with me. I don’t care if he didn’t intend to harm. Intent in this case isn’t what’s important, just as it wasn’t important with what Hillary did using a private email server. Letting him off because he was a comedian at the time…nope. If he’s guilty, he should resign. Anyone of any political persuasion should leave office if they are guilty of the same, regardless of whether it happened before or after they entered office.

  2. I hate to give our Cheeto stained, tiny hands tyrant president a kudo, but I have to begrudgingly agree with him about liangelo ball. He should have left him in jail and put a little backsheesh in the pocket of president xi to put lavar ball in the gulag too.

  3. With a few quibbles, I agree with your post, Thrill. People are losing the ability to distinguish individual incidents and between illegal and improper. Some things are egregious while others are merely juvenile. I generally agree with believing women that speak out, but there will inevitably be fakers.

    Sexual harassment has two forms. The clear cut form is quid pro quo, where the accused offered something in exchange for some form of sexual something. The other is hostile work environment where a person is supposed to be able to go to a workplace free from sexual bullshit that they don’t want. It is the latter that we will always have trouble with because it is at the interpretation of the accuser. It can range from dirty jokes to grabby hands, but there is no “quid pro quo” involved and the accused doesn’t necessarily have any power over the accuser and may not realize he or she did it.

    These efforts at a sex-free workplace are commendable, but I would bet that most people don’t care much day to day about dirty jokes and occasional flattery. They DO care about grabby hands and constant suggestive comments and come-ons. Confusing the two does no one any favors, IMO.

    Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment is always wrong.

    Over the years I have accumulated a number and variety of sexual anecdotes, some about me and some about others. Some of them are merely amusing and some were prosecutable crimes. I know a man that roofied and raped a man. I know someone that was falsely accused of rape and spend tens of thousands defending himself only for the accuser not to show up in court. The case was dismissed but he did not recoup his attorney fees. That stuff does happen and the effects can be devastating.

  4. Meanwhile this really doesn’t help Moore make his case.

    “More women are sexual predators than men,” said Raddish. “Women are chasing young boys up and down the road, but we don’t hear about that because it’s not PC.”

    I feel like I must apologize for my entire gender. I didn’t realize that men hated being pursued by women so much!

  5. It’s blowing my mind how Trump singularly seems to be above the fray here, with what, sixteen, nineteen separate accusers and the recording to boot. How in the current climate he seems to be teflon when powerful men are (justifiably) dropping like flies all around is amazing.

  6. Weinstein’s victims couldn’t defend themselves because they knew he would determine the future course of their careers. It’s the same with Spacey’s victims. And Roy Moore’s victims? Who would believe a teenage girl over a sitting judge? These women faced actual consequences for refusing the advances of the horny men who were hitting on them, didn’t they? Unlike me, they couldn’t simply push them aside. They didn’t have the power that I did in my circumstance to just say “no”.

    What about Trump’s victims? How do you see them? How did you see them when you voted for Trump?

  7. What we have to look for is whether the offender was in a position of power over the victim and whether there were consequences for her refusing to consent to any sexual acts. Where those conditions existed, we have to determine whether or not it merits the destruction of the offender.

    Trump:

    “I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look….”

    “….I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

    “Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

    You really couldn’t get a clearer example of someone admitting to using power to get away with sexual assault.

    So when you actively vote/support someone who has done that, why should anyone believe that this is in any way a big deal to you, even when a position of power has clearly been used?

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