Taking the H out of Harrassment

Today, a friend of mine asked me what I’m writing right now. It seemed like an odd question. I’m not writing anything, I told him. To be honest, while I tell people that i blog very infrequently, I really do enjoy writing for my blog and need to do it more.

That leads me to tonight. With no idea what to write about, it dawned on me that I’d just finished an article about Kevin Spacey’s alleged harrassment during production of House of Cards. If I may state the obvious, I’m not a woman and I’ve never been harrassed. Sexually, that is. Kidding, I kid, I kid. In all seriousness, I’m not qualified to write about sexual harassment from any angle. However, I’m perfectly qualified to write about the shock of the stories out there right now.

So, WTF people!?!

This is some crazy shit. Consider how many men are facing not only accusations but facing multiple accusers who share familiar stories about the same man. If Harvey Weinstein at first seemed to be anomaly, we got allegations against MSNBC’s Mark Halperin, director and producer Brett Rattner, NPR’s Michael Orestes, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, screenwriter James Toback, Bill O’Reilly, Dustin Hoffman, Jeremy Piven and Amazon Studios head Roy Price. Plus Ben Affleck’s apology to Hilarie Burton for groping her years ago. And let us not forget about Roger Ailes and the allegations in the past about Bill Clinton, Woody Allen and many more I can’t remember.

A big allegation I remember well came back in 1991 from an unknown woman who unwittingly became famous during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. Do you remember Anita Hill? Mr. Thomas was her boss at the US Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. An FBI interview with Hill was leaked detailing her claims of sexual harassment. Among the accusations, my favorite was a question he allegedly asked her: who put a pubic hair on his Coke can?

In 1991, Anita Hill’s accusations were refuted, the victim made the criminal. Though it was Thomas being confirmed, Hill was tried by the public, her character assassinated by the all male Senate Judiciary Committee. Thomas wrote about Hill in his book calling her traitorous, touchy and apt to overreact.

So many things about the recent allegations strike me. First, I can’t imagine the hubris or maybe just sickness that these men must have to think they can get away with harassing people. I’m also deeply encouraged that the women, or men, going public with their allegations are not being tried in public like Anita Hill. But I also have to tell you— as a man, not once in my life has it ever occurred to me to whip out my package and expose myself (hello, men, with our insecurities and envies?) not at work, not at home, a plane, the mall, doctor’s office or car wash. Or anything less. Yet here these people are that seem to believe their actions are 100% okay. Or maybe they just think they’re beyond reproach?

I can’t help but wonder how many more of these cases we’re going to learn about and how many will never make a headline or get reported. I’m going to add one thing, though: we ought remember that while sexual harassment and degradation may be more widespread than people realized, there are probably plenty of men, like me, who have never given a thought to harassing or harming someone else. At least, I sure hope so.

One Response to “Taking the H out of Harrassment”

  1. Ralph W.
    November 3, 2017 at 2:57 pm #

    Very thoughtful & well said. It’s so hard to put into words where we are in life, from so many viewpoints. Who would’ve imagined?

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