Second thoughts about romance in the #MeToo age

Summary: Women are speaking out against the sexual harassment hysteria sweeping through America. Here are two incisive essays that point out the irrational elements of the #MeToo campaign — and show why such pearl clutching will prove ineffective. Also, here you will find facts seldom mentioned about the incidence of sexual harassment.

Wildfire Earth

A new America is being built. Some feminists are happy with their work. During revolutions, rules are set by the most extreme activists. There is no need for voting by the proles. The leaders speak for us!

“Dudes, are you aware how happy women would be if strangers & coworkers never “flirted” with us again like ever. This is the world we want. Do u have any idea how exhausting it is to rebuff the background noise of public & workplace flirts all the time. Each one is a tiny threat. …you see how we look, you’re appraising us, you’re thinking of us in a romantic or sexual context. We know.

“There are designated social spaces for flirting, lots of them, i’d be fine if nobody ever flirted with me again outside of those. I would honestly be fine with men fearing sexual harassment charges anytime they flirt in any workplace. Know why? because when you’re **outside** the workplace, you can flirt with people who are CHOOSING to spend time with you.”

— Marian Call (@mariancall) on Twitter. She is an Alaskan songwriter.

Not everybody agrees with Ms. Call. A small survey by Reportlinker found that 27% of people look at work to find love (and 33% of young Millennials).

Reportlinker: survey where people find lover

Some feminists worry about the consequences of the society they’re building. So far this is just pearl clutching while the #MeToo hysteria burns. It will become meaningful when feminists provide clear rules. Rules that women follow, rather than selectively enforcing (as in “it’s not harassing behavior if I like it.”). The extreme cases are easy. As seen in these essays, the routine cases of everyday life are less so.

The Warlock Hunt

By Claire Berlinski (historian and journalist) in The American Interest.

“The #MeToo moment has now morphed into a moral panic that poses as much danger to women as it does to men.”

This is a stream-of-consciousness essay that makes many good points but provides little useful guidance. I recommend reading it. But a few gems deserve special note.

“Given the events of recent weeks, we can be certain of this: From now on, men with any instinct for self-preservation will cease to speak of anything personal, anything sexual, in our presence. They will make no bawdy jokes when we are listening. They will adopt in our presence great deference to our exquisite sensitivity and frailty. Many women seem positively joyful at this prospect. The Revolution has at last been achieved! But how could this be the world we want? Isn’t this the world we escaped?

“Who could blame a man who does not enjoy the company of women under these circumstances, who would just rather not have women in the workplace at all? This is a world in which the Mike Pence rule — ‘Never be alone with a woman’ — seems eminently sensible. Such a world is not good for women, however — as many women were quick to point out when we learned of the Mike Pence rule.”

Berlinski suggests several possible causes, or sparks, for the current hysteria. She appear unaware that Clinton had a 3% margin in the popular vote over Trump, not 30%.

“I’m not sure what, precisely, is now driving us over the edge. But I’d suggest looking at the obvious. The President of the United States is Donald J. Trump. …Who among us doesn’t feel profound anxiety about this? Daddy-the-President turns out to be a hapless dotard. …That’s enough to make anyone go berserk.”

—————————–

Ezra Klein advocates sexual oppression
At VOX, 13 October 2014.

In this second essay, a woman asks an obvious question. It has an obvious answer she refuses to see.

Is Office Romance Still Allowed?

By Cathy Young (journalist) in the Wall Street Journal.

“Today’s sexual-harassment scandals don’t tell us much about how ordinary men and women should interact at work. It may be time to rethink the rules.”

Betteridge’s Law: when a headline asks a question, the answer is “no.” As we seen in her article.

“One thing can be said with certainty: Any notion of simply banishing romantic or sexual interactions at work will fail. Too many of us find lovers, partners and spouses in the setting where we spend most of our waking hours. To move forward from this moment, we must acknowledge not just the awful impact of sexual harassment on women but the reality that the modern workplace is, among other things, a place where romantic overtures are not always unwelcome.”

But there are few clear rules, and the “overtures” are sometimes unwelcome — unknowingly to the guy when the girl does not say “no.”  Accusations can be made long afterwards, causing substantial internal turmoil — not matter what the firm’s officers decide to do. With the potential for bad publicity and cash payments. Litigation is an important factor seldom mentioned in these articles; expect a a wave of it coming more women say #MeToo. Organizations get no benefit from romance among workers, with the potential for trouble and large liabilities. We need not consult Nostradamus to predict how HR executives will respond to #MeToo.

“Though many of the men brought down by the scandals have been accused of egregious sexual impositions, from indecent exposure to rape, others have been implicated in less flagrant misconduct. …Should vastly different degrees of misconduct be punishable in the same way — by disgrace and career death? Should interaction between colleagues in social settings outside the office be subject to the same norms of propriety as workplace behavior? When, if ever, is sexualized or romantic interaction appropriate at work?”

Wonderful questions. Too bad feminists have no answers. Berlinski gives us cautionary stories. Despite such pearl clutching, the #MeToo fires continue to burn brightly.

“Four years ago, when the New York Times published a profile of Chirlane McCray, the wife of New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, some were scandalized by the account of how the couple met in 1991 while working at city hall. Ms. McCray, who had long identified as a lesbian, ‘had zero interest in dating a man’ — but Mr. de Blasio was undaunted and ‘flirted with her mercilessly … calling nonstop and trying to steal an unwelcome kiss.’

“In a follow-up piece published in Slate to address concerns that the story of the de Blasio/McCray courtship sounded too much like sexual harassment, Ms. McCray was quoted as saying that he was ‘sweetly persistent, but…always respectful.’ Yet such judgments can be very much in the eye of the beholder.”

All sensible words, reflecting the complexity of life. But the next sentence plunges us back into feminist ideology.

Laura Kipnis (Prof of Communications at Northwestern U,, author of Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus) stresses the distinction between enjoyable flirting and humiliating or oblivious behavior: ‘Flirtation is mutual, innuendo is one-way.’ But while that distinction is often obvious, the lines can be blurred. Seeming mutuality can be the result of a less powerful person ‘playing along’ to placate an abuser.”

Life is so simple in feminist op-eds, right behavior so obviously right and wrong. Except when when the lines “blur” between a weak woman and her “abuser” (we’re back to flirting = abuse). Her conclusion is hand-waving while the fires burn, culminating with delusional nonsense. She provides no suggestions for guidelines, but a desire for talking out formal complaints (with the unstated threat of litigation in the background).

“Relaxing {today’s workplace policies} would make room for managers to deal with such issues in a more flexible, humane way. At the very least, it should be possible to give the parties to such disputes a chance to talk to each other. The answer, in the end, is to ensure dignity and respect in the workplace for women and men, whether accusers or accused. Finding the right balance may not be easy, but it is the only way forward if we are to accept the human — and sometimes sexual or romantic — reality of our working lives.”

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Sexual Harassment Trends in the Federal Workplace

As usual, a look at the numbers puts this hysteria in a more realistic context. Note the collapse of harassment rates during the 22 years between surveys.

2016 Survey by the Federal Merit Systems Protection Board.

2016 Survey of Federal Employees about Sexual Harassment

But what do these people mean by “sexual harassment”? This was done by real experts, so they asked. Note this does not report the relationship of the woman and man, whether boss-employee or worker-worker. Nor do we know how third-party observers would regard these. Would they regard all these incidents of “pressure for dates” or “stalking” as harassment?

Details of the 2016 Survey of Federal Employees about Sexual Harassment

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 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.
  9. Worrying while the harassment fires burn out of control.
Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women
Available at Amazon.

A counterpoint to the debate.

Well worth reading: Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women (1995). From the publisher…

“Philosophy professor Christina Sommers has exposed a disturbing development: how a group of zealots, claiming to speak for all women, are promoting a dangerous new agenda that threatens our most cherished ideals and sets women against men in all spheres of life. In case after case, Sommers shows how these extremists have propped up their arguments with highly questionable but well-funded research, presenting inflammatory and often inaccurate information and stifling any semblance of free and open scrutiny. Trumpeted as orthodoxy, the resulting ‘findings’ on everything from rape to domestic abuse to economic bias to the supposed crisis in girls’ self-esteem perpetuate a view of women as victims of the ‘patriarchy’.

“Moreover, these arguments and the supposed facts on which they are based have had enormous influence beyond the academy, where they have shaken the foundations of our educational, scientific, and legal institutions and have fostered resentment and alienation in our private lives. Despite its current dominance, Sommers maintains, such a breed of feminism is at odds with the real aspirations and values of most American women and undermines the cause of true equality. Who Stole Feminism? is a call to arms that will enrage or inspire, but cannot be ignored.”

12 thoughts on “Second thoughts about romance in the #MeToo age

  1. Well, ultimately, what it leads to is a preference for sex robots rather than real-live women.

    There is already a dearth of so-called good men in the marriage market. With more women graduating with a Bachelor’s or Master’s than men, the excess women are dating and marrying blue-collar workers. My wife and I were recently at a wedding where the bride was working as a reading-education specialist with a Master’s degree in Education and the groom worked at a supermarket in the vegetable department. We know a couple dating where the woman has a Master’s degree and the man, who had failed twice in undergraduate courses is a shift manager at a movie theatre.

    It will only get worse for women, not better. Men are living with parents or a parent longer, not capable of, or interested in, assuming responsibilities, I.e., supporting a woman in the life style to which she feels entitled. By that I mean she has a meaningful career and children with the man’s salary supporting the couple’s life together. That will go tge way of the dinosaurs.

    So how will women get to meet men and what will they have to offer besides an accusation of sexual harassment?

    1. dealbert,

      “what it leads to is a preference for sex robots rather than real-live women.”

      We don’t have sex bots that have much functionality, just sex dolls. We we won’t have more than dolls for many years. We’ll have to fight this with the tools we have, not the ones we dream of.

      “There is already a dearth of so-called good men in the marriage market.”

      Supply is only relevant compared to demand; price is the indicator. If there was a deficit of “good men”, their price (value) would have increased on the “marriage market.” In fact men report the exact opposite: women want bad boys, or have dropped out of the game. When they are their 30s they want nice guys to marry, to support their children — and in about half of marriages, to divorce once the kids are in schools (collecting child support for the next 15 years).

      “Men are …not capable of, or interested in, assuming responsibilities”

      I love how these discussions consist largely of people making stuff up. How do you know that these men consider marriage to modern women a great deal? Even ignoring the high odds of divorce & child support, perhaps these women are good feminists but not great wives.

    2. Well in general, men are getting a very poor deal in the marriage marketplace these days:

      1) Traditionally, flirting or sexual advances can be met with one of two things – acceptance or rejection. Now a third option has opened up – public shaming, humiliation, firing, and even legal repercussions.

      2) Assuming a man takes the chance of finding a partner, he faces additional dangers – yes means no and no means yes. “Unwanted” (intentional) pregnancy.

      3) Assuming a man risks all to get married, he risks everything in divorce. The laws are still badly slanted toward the wife in any and all divorce proceedings, and a man may well find himself bereft of home, children, and a large fraction of his income no matter what the circumstances are.

      Women are marrying down because those are the only men for whom running the risk of the above calculates out to be “worth it”. If she has more money than you, you risk much less in divorce. Whether we know it or not, we are rational beings, always calculating the risks, pro and con. The risk of marriage, especially if one has an education and good career, is very high, while the benefits are quite low. In fact, what are the benefits to the man exactly? Our society today says it is perfectly fine to live with, and have children with, women out of wedlock. Legally this is a far better position for a man than marriage.

      Feminism has created a world where men are positively discouraged from dating or marrying women. I’m not clear who that was supposed to benefit.

  2. Ok, so much confusion on this issue. A brief rant….

    First, to state the semi-obvious – It’s not workplace romance or flirtations. It’s workplace romance or flirtations *when the two people are at different levels of power*. Typically the man as the superior or significantly older one – I’ll assume this for the sake of argument from here on. Such as situation puts both people in a compromising position : the woman finding it difficult to refuse, the man vulnerable to accusations of impropriety later. Nothing new so far.

    What’s new is that there’s a wave of high profile men being accused of exactly the kind of improprieties that the flirting-with-your-subordinate situation gets you into – situations that were ignored for the sake of keeping the peace, because once acknowledged they were impossible to ignore and uncomfortable to correct.

    I’m not saying it’s useful for the national media to handle this in tabloid mode, but that’s the only mode there is any more. If you don’t like it stop consuming TV and newspapers which lead with stories consisting basically of celebrity/politician re-tweets and commentary on celebrity/politician tweets. That’s the world we live in.

    I personally feel sympathy for neither the Harvey Weinstein’s or Matt Lauer’s out there, nor for entirely innocent and well-meaning single men who flirt with people with whom they work and have significant seniority over. Nor for women in such positions who try to seduce their bosses. If finding love across lines of power difference just got a little harder for all these groups just got a little harder, that would be an improvement.

    1. Pete,

      (1) “It’s not workplace romance or flirtations. It’s workplace romance or flirtations *when the two people are at different levels of power*.”

      Nope, as any HR person can tell you and as I learned in my course about sexual harassment (mandatory in California every two years). Most of the complaints are between workers — not worker-boss. These still cause disruption. And the company is responsible — and legally liable — if it “creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”

      (2) “What’s new is that there’s a wave of high profile men being accused”

      That’s what is in the headlines. More important is the large wave of @MeToo claims. How many of these will result in complaints to HR? To government agencies? To litigation?

      (3) “I’m not saying it’s useful for the national media to handle this in tabloid mode, but that’s the only mode there is any more.”

      That’s the fluff. The serious consequences result from the actions taken by HR departments at business and government agencies across the nation. I’ll bet that these will be severe, as I mention in this post.

    2. (1) Sure, but harassment between coworkers, when it reaches the level where company policies kick in, is less of a moral trouble spot than the case of boss/celebrity hanky panky, where it’s not so simple to say whether it is really consensual.

      Obviously the reaction will depend on the norms and culture of the company or industry or institution you’re looking at – So there’s fear of changing those norms, right? What are those fears, exactly? Changing the rules regarding the boundary of “verbal” harassment? I don’t think unsolicited physical is even controversial. Fear of false accusations?

    3. Pete,

      (1) Yes, everybody agrees that sexual harassment is a more serious problem than that between workers. But your statement is still incorrect.

      “First, to state the semi-obvious – It’s not workplace romance or flirtations. It’s workplace romance or flirtations *when the two people are at different levels of power*.”

      Most cases are between workers, and no manager or HR person can say those aren’t serious.

      (2) “Obviously the reaction will depend on the norms and culture of the company or industry or institution you’re looking at”

      Not any more. When a woman complains to the media, the Local-State-Federal agency, or sues — no “its our culture” defense will work.

  3. It occurs to me that we don’t really have enough real world places outside of work where we meet and mingle, and I don’t just mean for purposes of courtship and pairing off. The neighborhood bar or tavern within walking distance, sports teams, etc…we mostly don’t have them anymore. We’ve organized our lives in ways that make us more atomized, more isolated, and therefore easier to control. We have online dating markets, but these seem to come with other problems attached. We need other places to meet and socialize besides work, and we don’t seem to have enough of them. I wonder what other kinds of romance will become fraught with legal and social peril as the warlock hunt proceeds.

    I had my nephew over a couple of nights ago for dinner and drinks. He spends a lot of time in the gym. He’s in much better shape than I was at his age, and vastly better shape than I’m in now. From what he tells me about his life and his friends, things seem different now in ways that I don’t really understand. When I was his age, guys who looked like this walked around with steady girlfriends on their arm, or at least that’s how I remember it.

    1. The Man,

      I agree. It’s a strange new world out there. We can only guess at its long-term effects.

      “It occurs to me that we don’t really have enough real world places outside of work where we meet and mingle,”

      Hence the popularity of Tinder and other dating apps.

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