Worrying while the harassment fires burn out of control

Summary: Men in the Leftist-dominated media, entertainment, academia, and the San Francisco Bay area are falling like ten-pins to the #MeToo campaign. Also tarred are some politicians of both parties — plus a larger pool of anonymous accusations of a bewilderingly wide and growing range of behaviors called harassment. This is unexpected outcome, like poison gas blowing back on our own troops. So bien pensant leftists are having second thoughts about the crusade.

Sexual Harassment

The Upside of Office Flirtation? I’m living it.

By Allison Benedikt (executive editor) at Slate.

“When I was 23 years old, my boss …was an older and more powerful editor. My career, at the time, was in his hands. Once, when we had finished working on a story together, he suggested we get a drink to celebrate. …I remember feeling extremely nervous as we sat across from each other in a dark bar. He was flirting with me, I could tell. The next weekend, he asked me out again. A few days later, he kissed me on the steps of the West 4th subway station without first getting my consent. We’ve now been happily married for 14 years and have three children. …

“If I had not been interested in my husband’s advances, would that have been harassment? Was it harassment anyway, since he was my boss? Today, many people seem to think the answer is yes.
It is an understatement to say something has shifted in the culture. And that shift is unquestionably to the good. …

Allison Benedikt

“Men like Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer and their less famous counterparts deserve to be kicked out of polite society, ruined, and, in certain cases, indicted. …But a byproduct of these welcome developments has been an expansion of our collective definition of harassment. Reading accounts of others’ experiences since the great outpouring began, I’ve vacillated between horror at the abusive situations so many women have endured and alarm at some of the interactions being considered misconduct. I’ve felt a rift with many of the younger women I know, who claim to understand exactly where to draw the line between legitimate behavior and abuse and seem to view harassment as any interaction with a man that has made them uncomfortable. …

“If a younger woman asks an older and more professionally powerful man for job advice, and that man ends up hitting on the woman, is that on its own harassment? Is it always wrong when a man is attracted to a woman at work, and acts on that attraction? If that man tries to, say, kiss the woman he is attracted to, and she’s not into it, and they leave it at that, was that forcible kissing? If a woman is not attracted to a man who comes on to her, and that man is in a position of any sort of power, is that clearly a fireable offense? I don’t think the answer to these questions is definitively yes. And yet, these tales and others like them have been stitched into the narrative of behavior that’s truly beyond the pale, and at times punished accordingly. …

“I also fear the consequences of overcorrection, of the concept of harassment ballooning to include perfectly legitimate attempts at seduction — the initial touch, the scooting closer in the booth, the drunken sloppy first kiss, the occasional bad call or failed pass. …

“A friend of mine told me about a recent date he went on with a woman he met online. After dinner, he asked her if she wanted to go back to his place. She declined. They went on several more dates, though, and eventually she told him that the reason she didn’t go back to his apartment that first night was that he didn’t ask forcefully enough. That same friend told me of a memorable line he’s seen in several Tinder profiles: “likes to be chased.” I laughed, because who doesn’t? But what my friend saw in this current moment were mixed messages: It’s good to be aggressive if your date is interested, but read the room wrong and you are done. It feels great to be chased when you are attracted to the person doing the chasing. Otherwise, the chaser might be seen as a predator. …

“A world where abusers fear crossing a criminal boundary is clearly a better world. But a world where interested parties fear crossing this new boundary we seem to be edging toward, where any power differential or wrong move is seen as predation, robs women of the ability to consent as well. Women should have power — the power to move about the world without fearing for our safety, but also the power to not be threatened by an unwanted but unmalicious move, the power to say no to a man’s advances without being that man’s victim. …

“It is completely within the norm of human exploratory romantic behavior for people to take steps — sometimes physical steps — to see if the other person reciprocates their feelings. It is OK to flirt with a person who you aren’t sure wants to be flirted with. It is OK to not be 100% great at reading signals. It is even OK to be grossed out by someone’s advances, as long as those advances stop once you make clear you aren’t into it.

“There are predators and harassers, even more of them than I thought, and there are some lines that are simple to draw, even if we haven’t been enforcing them until now. But there has to be room for a relationship like mine to happen. And the difference between John being my husband and my harasser cannot just be that it worked out. The difference between actions that can get you married and actions that can get you fired can’t simply be whether or not the person you are interested in is interested back. Careers should end when someone tries, and is rebuffed, and does not heed that rebuffing. Careers should not end just because someone tried.”

Pearl clutching

Other interesting articles

Here is a similar article: “When Does a Watershed Become a Sex Panic?” by Masha Gessen in The New Yorker. Warnings about consequences of this plus lots of hand-waving. ”

“The affirmative-consent and preponderance-of-the-evidence regimes shift the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused, eliminating the presumption of innocence. If the presumption of innocence is rooted in the idea that it is better to let ten guilty people go free than risk jailing one innocent person, then the policing of sex seems to assume that it’s better to have ten times less sex than to risk having a nonconsensual sexual experience. The problem is not just that this reduces the amount of sex people are likely to be having; it also serves to blur the boundaries between rape, nonviolent sexual coercion, and bad, fumbling, drunken sex. …

“Of course, the balance of power favors men so much that it’s more likely that the guilty will get away with it than that the innocent will suffer.”  {No worries!}

This NYT article is well worth reading: “Men at Work Wonder if They Overstepped With Women, Too.” It combines confusion with the new rules with exclamation that they are obvious — and that many precautionary actions with women are discriminatory. Ms. Benedikt says that this man’s concerns were “dismissed” on her work Stack.

“Consider Owen Cunningham, a director at San Francisco’s KBM-Hogue design firm. When he looks toward the annual corporate holiday party these days, he shudders. ‘Cancel the holiday party,’ said Mr. Cunningham, 37, adding that he means just until it has been figured out how men and women should interact. He said he considered himself progressive on gender issues but was thinking more about the behavior he had seen in the past: ‘What flirting is O.K.? Was I ever taking advantage of any meager power I had? You start to wonder.'”

War on Sex
Available at Amazon.

A historical perspective

We cannot understand what is happening without seeing this as a part of a longer evolution driven by the Left. In The War on Sex, David Halperin (historian and gender theorist at the U of Michigan) has written about the slippery slope we are riding — showing where we are going. The history of our age is mockery of the “slippery slope” while we slide down it.

“Antioch College’s notorious Sexual Offense Prevention Policy, which required students to request and to receive explicit affirmative verbal consent before initiating each step in sexual relations, was widely ridiculed when it was introduced in 1991. But in retrospect it would seem to have been prophetic, for versions of it have recently become law in California (2014) and in New York (2015). …

State legislators elsewhere have proposed similar measures, and many colleges and universities are already implementing them by adding them to their administrative regulations. Under these regulations, college disciplinary boards must use an ‘affirmative consent standard’ in adjudicating complaints of sexual assault.”

For a clearer and larger perspective, we should turn to Allan Bloom’s great work, Closing of the American Mind. He explains the deeper forces at work. In this excerpt he foresees trends that were only embryonic in his time. Later chapters speculate about our future.

Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students
Available at Amazon.

“Now we have arrived at one of the ultimate acts in our drama, the informing and reforming of our most intimate private lives by our principles. Sex and its consequences … have finally become the theme of the national project, and here the problem of nature, always present but always repressed in the reconstruction of man demanded by freedom and equality, becomes insistent. …

“The change in sexual relations, which now provide an unending challenge to human ingenuity, came over us in two successive waves in the last two decades. The first was the sexual revolution; the second, feminism. The sexual revolution marched under the banner of freedom; feminism under that of equality. Although they went arm in arm for a while, their differences eventually put them at odds with each other, as Tocqueville said freedom and equality would always be. …

“{Feminism} ends, as do many modern movements that seek abstract justice, in forgetting nature and using force to refashion human beings to secure that justice. …Just as smoking and drinking overcame puritanical condemnation only to find themselves, after a brief moment of freedom, under equally moralistic attacks in the name not of God but of the more respectable and powerful names of health and safety, so sex had a short day in the sun before it had to be reined in to accommodate the feminist sensibility.

“In this case the project is overcoming what is variously called male dominance, machismo, phallocracy, patriarchy, etc., to which men and their female collaborators seem very attached, inasmuch as so many machines of war must be mounted against them. Male sexual passion has become sinful again because it culminates in sexism. Women are made into objects, they are raped by their husbands as well as by strangers, they are sexually harassed by professors and employers at school and at work, and their children, whom they leave in day-care centers in order to pursue their careers, are sexually abused by teachers. All these crimes must be legislated against and punished.

“What sensitive male can avoid realizing how dangerous his sexual passion is? Is there perhaps really original sin? Men had failed to read the fine print in the Emancipation Proclamation. The new interference with sexual desire is more comprehensive, more intense, more difficult to escape than the older conventions, the grip of which was so recently relaxed.

“The July 14 of the sexual revolution was really only a day between the overthrow of the Ancien Regime and the onset of the Terror. The new reign of virtue, accompanied by relentless propaganda on radio and television and in the press, has its own catechism, inducing an examination of the conscience and the inmost sentiments for traces of possessiveness, jealousy, protectivenesss — all those things men used to feel for women.

“There are, of course, a multitude of properly indignant censors equipped with loudspeakers and inquisitional tribunals.”

For More Information

Other articles about the ongoing revolution.

  1. Whipping-Post Politics” by James Kunstler “The hit on Garrison Keillor by his old friend Minnesota Public Radio seemed like a new low in the whipping-post politics of the moment..”
  2. Geoffrey Rush steps down as Australian Academy president amid allegations of inappropriate behavior.” Allegations about which he was never informed and so cannot defend himself.
  3. Beware of Running with the Al Franken Story — Consider Where That Leads” by Douglas Murray.
  4. Sexual Power Dynamics: Examining the Missing Part of the Story” by Douglas Murray.
  5. Is Feminism the Answer to Sexual Harassment?” by Mona Charen.
  6. Is ‘Weinsteining’ getting out of hand?” by Cathy Young.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts by James Bowman, about society and gender issuesabout feminism, about sexual assaultabout rape, and especially these…

  1. It’s time to forcibly re-shape America to fight the campus rape epidemic! Even if it’s fake.
  2. The University of Virginia shows how change comes to America: through agitprop and hysteria.
  3. False rape accusations tell us something important about America.
  4. Feminist revolutionaries seized control of colleges. Now come the tribunals…
  5. See universities’ programs to regulate sex. The apps are amazing!
  6. The unexpected response to the sexual harassment crisis.
  7. Weaponizing claims of sexual harassment for political gain.
  8. Mysteries and ironies of the next new sexual revolution.

Another perspective on our changing system

Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy
Available at Amazon.

Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy by (2017).

“Sex is cheap. Coupled sexual activity has become more widely available than ever. Cheap sex has been made possible by two technologies that have little to do with each other – the Pill and high-quality pornography – and its distribution made more efficient by a third technological innovation, online dating. Together, they drive down the cost of real sex, and in turn slow the development of love, make fidelity more challenging, sexual malleability more common, and have even taken a toll on men’s marriageability.

Cheap Sex takes readers on an extended tour inside the American mating market, and highlights key patterns that characterize young adults’ experience today, including the timing of first sex in relationships, overlapping partners, frustrating returns on their relational investments, and a failure to link future goals like marriage with how they navigate their current relationships. Drawing upon several large nationally-representative surveys, in-person interviews with 100 men and women, and the assertions of scholars ranging from evolutionary psychologists to gender theorists, what emerges is a story about social change, technological breakthroughs, and unintended consequences. Men and women have not fundamentally changed, but their unions have. No longer playing a supporting role in relationships, sex has emerged as a central priority in relationship development and continuation. But unravel the layers, and it is obvious that the emergence of “industrial sex” is far more a reflection of men’s interests than women’s.”

27 thoughts on “Worrying while the harassment fires burn out of control

  1. Great article, thank you.

    It is also worth considering the context of the advances. In a subculture like Hollywood where sex, sexuality and the ability of females in particular to sell themselves through displaying their their bodies on screen it is natural that the lines get blurred. Lets face it not many ‘Dogs’ make it in Hollywood. I contrast this with the military or the judiciary.

    There has always been a relationship between power and beauty. Take a look at Harvey’s wife and ask yourself what put the two of them together? Would she have married him if he wasn’t the wealthy powerful man he is? Would she have looked at him if he was an over the hill, overweight, not too pretty factory worker living in Michigan? Would he have looked at her if she was a ‘normal’?

    Harvey had something that the women wanted. There are thousands of little girls coming to Hollywood every year looking for the great break in the movies. Most land up doing sex work on the strip or going home with their tails between their legs. Harvey was in a position to deliver, he had a deal he wanted to make and many women understood the contract. It was common knowledge in Hollywood, everyone knew and understood the game.

    What amazes me is the way that the accused are considered guilty, their careers ruined and them trashed simply because some woman has accused them.

    1. No, they are not all lying, in fact they might all be telling the truth but when the mere accusation tanks a career there is something wrong. Take them to court and try them with a judge and jury.
      In an industry that exists for the promotion of self there are some that will try and boost a flagging career with a little publicity.
      Have you ever heard of revenge?

    2. 7zander,

      “Sexual harassment” — which we can’t even define any more — appears to have been an accepted practice in Hollywood and the media, industries dominated by Leftists. Now they want to change their ways, becoming more like normal organizations. But oddly they believe their moral laxness reveals much about the rest of society, and their history of moral laxness in this area qualifies them to be guides for the rest of society.

      This is like drunks at an AA meeting, with a history of accidents, who get sober and declares themselves authorities — sheriffs and judges — on safe driving practices.

    3. Rando,

      “But there are multiple victims / eyewitnesses here. ”

      False. That was so for some of the initial reports. But were cases of single — sometimes anonymous — reports about events years in the past. Impossible for the accused to disprove. Ruining careers. More of these are appearing.

      See the recent story about “Geoffrey Rush, steping down as Australian Academy president amid allegations of inappropriate behavior.” Allegations about which he was never informed and so cannot defend himself.

      See the accounts by Laura Kipnis (a long-time feminist and professor at Northwestern U’s School of Communication), who has been documenting them.

    4. Mark,

      “What amazes me is the way that the accused are considered guilty, their careers ruined and them trashed simply because some woman has accused them.”

      The major names are being ruined because they have multiple complaints. The problem comes when the campaign becomes institutionalized. Big guys are difficult to take down. Small fry, like most of us, are like kleenex. HR will throw us in the trash at the hint of trouble to save the firm a dime.

      More important, from a social perspective, is the potential for damage to interrelations. These campaigns, with their sudden changes in rules — often contradictory (as even women admit in these articles) — disrupt what are always the fraught and problematic progress of men and women getting together to have a family (i.e., raise kids). The radicals spinning the controls have no awareness that these social processes are delicate and can be wrecked.

    5. “these guys just had a single accuser that would be one thing. But there are multiple victims / eyewitnesses here. Are they all lying?”

      Who cares how many people make an accusation? There are multiple people who accuse the Jews of faking the Holocaust.

    6. PAT,

      That’s not a useful comparison. These are first person reports of harrasment. In court, first person testimony is gold.

      You are describing people who just refuse to believe the evidence. That’s quite a different phenomenon.

    1. dashui,

      That’s clearly not the full story, as is evident in the accounts hitting the news.

  2. I am a 55 year old woman. I have plenty of material to add to the mosh pit should I care to jump into it. I refrain from doing so, and not for cowardice. Camille Paglia in 1990 wrote the last remotely interesting material on this subject.

    Still, I write on Quora, answering questions from all over the world, including from young people in India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, who are attempting to wrap their heads around “Western” sexual mores. Following are a few of my answers, for your viewing pleasure. I wish I could include a picture of Vasily Pukirev’s masterpiece but have not been successful in embedding a link; it is an easy search, though.

    Question One: “How were people married if it was happening before the church existed? If marriage is supposed to be between two people who consent and truly love each other, then how can there be a wrong way?” See Quora, 17 Dec 2016. My answer: “For millennia, in both Eastern and Western cultures, marriage was considered a property transaction, and primarily a conscious joining of families/clans. Love was not the main consideration, but factored in as a “plus” that assured domestic harmony and stability.

    Question Two: “Was everything better in the old days?” See Quora, 26 Dec 2016. My answer: “No.”

    Question Three: “What is one advice you would give a lady in her late twenties about to marry a man in his mid-forties?” See Quora, 20 Sept 2017.

    1. Sun Village,

      That comment was 1600 words. Most posts here are about 1000 words. Comments should be a maximum of 250 words. A brief note about your Quora posts and a link are OK.

      Also, how are these relevant to this post?

  3. Watching Anita Hill’s carefully choreographed attempted takedown of Clarence Thomas back in the ’90s alerted me to the deluge of hypocrisy that was coming. Without the media’s need to broadcast flashy and/or bloody headlines 24/7, much of this semi-fabricated and lovingly sculpted “news” would die in the minds of the sensationalists who push it in front of us.

    1. alfin,

      That’s an important point. The “nuclear winter” hoax was the testbed for the tactics used to exaggerate climate science into “we doomed” hysteria, Anita Hill was the testbed for the current hysteria.

      Note how lavishly she profited from her turncoat attack on Clarence Thomas. The Left pays well.

  4. Anyone who has ever read Arthur C Clarke’s great science fiction story Superiority knows that the search for new and improved weapons can miscarry or simply backfire. For those who have not read it, the narrator recounts, from his prison cell, how his side was defeated by “The inferior science of our enemies.” The narrator’s side eventually managed to improve their weaponry until their fleet was invincible…and finally lost the war as a result.

    Harassment charges were seen as a useful political weapon, and a powerful weapon they can be, but the weapon does not operate in a completely predictable way, and like any other weapon, it can hit people it it wasn’t originally aimed at. Whether the people who weaponized this learn anything useful from the experience I do not know.

    But I’m not betting the rent money on it.

    1. The Man,

      I’ve been discussing possible long-term consequences with some smarter men. As I write this, corp HR departments are preparing new regulations tightening the bonds on their legions of beta male workers.

      On the other end of the spectrum — wild speculation — this might further erode the legitimacy of the current social regime. Legitimacy isn’t everything, but it is close. Once a large fraction of young men believe the system is stacked against them — that they are outlaws — then we might see very exciting events (as in the faux Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times.”)

      I believe the core rule for this era is expect the unexpected. For good reason this insight came from the “weeping philosopher” (Heraclitus).

    2. Larry, I already consider myself an outlaw, but not because of this issue. I’m not even interested in the sexual market right now (I have adequate substitutes), and won’t be for another 20-25 years, when Transhuman augmentation hits the market.

    3. FDW,

      “I already consider myself an outlaw, but not because of this issue. ”

      If not that, then why?

    4. I’ve mentioned it here before: Urbanism. I was radicalized against Car Culture early on, and a large chunk of my political development has affected by that. One big thing that I was exposed to early was the concept of NIMBY (Not In My BackYard), and the broader nationalization obsession with isolation that it epitomized. An obsession that came to clash with the reality of the Great Recession. It was during the increasing polarization of this period that I realized how uncompetitive local government was, not just where I lived (San Francisco), but Nationally. I came to the conclusion that National level polarization was really just a symptom of local level dysfunction across the country. In all honesty, I had all the ideological pieces already in place, but I wasn’t ready to emotionally let go of the belief I had in the Liberal Establishment. Gamergate changed that. But getting mugged by reality didn’t turn me towards the right, it just made me embrace the radical that was already inside me.

    5. FDW,

      I too live in the SF a area. What do you mean by uncompetitive local govt? It’s a lot better in California than the northeastern cities I’ve lived in.

      Also, I don’t understand why that makes you an “outlaw.” Your views sound conventional in terms of the broad spectrum in America.

    6. The Bay Area has it’s share of terrible local/region governance too. Let’s start with Transportation: In the Northeast, most of the pending rail projects are hideously overpriced, but have strong merit from a ridership perspective. The Bay Area has had similar overpriced and delay issues, but it’s been dumping stupid money into largely worthless projects (Like the BART extensions to nowhere pursued by Alameda, San Mateo, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties, the near useless SMART and ACE commuter rail lines, and the “Limited Stop Buses with Fancy Paint” that this country calls Bus Rapid Transit), while worthy projects (Like San Francisco’s Geary Subway, and the Caltrain Electrification/Downtown Extension project) keep getting pushed to the back of the line. (Highway welfare is a problem of both regions, so I’m not getting into that)

      Then there’s the whole affordability crisis that’s been going here for the last two decades.The inability of the local establishment to anything about is why I’m going to be leaving this region soon. Seeing the regions political establishment put the tech industry over the people that actually live here on issue after issue has left me fed up. While the political establishment may seem more functional out here, it’s taking California on a path that will eventually turn it into what the midwest now, and what the Northeast turned into during the 1st half of the 20th century. I find that set of arrangements to be completely unacceptable, and want to replace it with something else. I know that there’s no way to change things at this point in time within the constitution, so I find myself drawn to solutions outside of it. That’s why I consider myself an outlaw. And that’s not even getting into my full-throated support for Transhumanism, or my slow drift towards Anarchism.

    7. FDW,

      “The Bay Area has it’s share of terrible local/region governance too”

      So does every area. YOu can get great government in Heaven, but you have to die first.

      The Bay area governments are paradise compared to the corrupt, organized-crime dominated governments of the northeast. Which is why businesses have been migrating here since WWII.

    8. FDW,

      I tell SF businesspeople my stories about government in Buffalo, Boston, and NYC. Their jaws drop — unless they’ve been there.

  5. Larry, for whatever it’s worth, I don’t consider your speculation to be as wild as all that. I don;t pretend to know the ramifications if that’s how it plays out. I consider your advice to be sound. We are in terra incognita. Sometimes I think about the old Castle Bravo H Bomb test, where they miscalculated the yield, and got fifteen megatons instead of five. And then there was old Ben Franklin with the kite, who was luckier than he had any right to be. Some experiments are more dangerous than they look.

    1. The Man,

      The most interesting aspect of our current social “experiment” is how it differs from past major reform movements. There are many in Western history, from small to revolutions like the English, American, and French revolutions. Most rested on well-developed theoretic foundations, which were well-known and widely accepted.

      The current gender revolution is in many ways more fundamental, resting on an academic foundation that is mostly made-up — and either despised or mocked by the public, and so hidden or unstated. I don’t see how this is happening, or how it can work out well.

Leave a Reply