Yes, Weinsteining Is Out of Hand

 

So this morning I was about to compose my brief, point-by-point summary of my Highly Unpopular Thesis (truly, I was), when the morning went horribly awry.  My friend Arun Kapil posted a link on Facebook to this article: “Is ‘Weinsteining’ Getting Out of Hand?”

“Our current discourse on sexual harassment,” wrote Cathy Young,

not only conflates predation with “low-level lechery” but generally reduces women to sexual innocents who must be shielded not only from sexual advances but from bawdy jokes. This did not begin with Weinstein or the #MeToo movement; however, the current moral panic is making the situation worse.

I “liked” the post and wrote, “Yes, this is getting out of control and is clearly a form of hysteria.” Meant to leave it at that. But then Facebook told me that people had replied to my comment. And I discovered that I hold another Highly Unpopular view, it seems. Among the comments: “Keep your hands and comments to yourself. That is the lesson to be learned and if people lose their jobs over it, tough [redacted].”

Another: “Well, people need to be very thoughtful and very careful when they say or do something personal. WT[redacted] is so hard about that? If you are so clueless that can’t tell when a particular behavior is welcome or unwelcome, you shouldn’t be allowed in the sandbox.”

I wound up writing a post-length reply that of course I should have just published here in the first place.  I’ll come back to my original Highly Unpopular Thesis tomorrow; today got spent defending this–apparently–Highly Unpopular view. I do think it’s an important issue, though.

***

I am now in a position to destroy many men’s lives, careers, and reputations by saying, “He harassed me.” Many men have, over the course of my academic and professional career, behaved in a way that I found charmingly flirtatious — but which, if I described it as unwelcome, or traumatic, would meet contemporary definitions of “harassment.” This category is now so broad and vague as to compass “the typical flirtation that characterizes the interaction of men and women and brings joy and amusement to so many of our lives–but as it happens, in this case, I didn’t like it.”

I could now, on a whim, destroy the career of an Oxford don I recall who one drunken evening danced with me when I was an undergraduate, patted my bum, and slurred, “I’ve been dying to do this to Berlinski all term!” That is in fact what happened. I was amused and flattered. I thought nothing of it. But if I truthfully recounted the details of this event now, merely changing the words “flattered and amused” to “traumatized and terrified,” I would destroy his life. Even if the charge couldn’t be proven, legally, the accusation is now the punishment in itself. Do you doubt this? That I have the power to destroy his life, and the lives of literally hundreds of men who have flirted me over the years — co-workers, employers, men who in some way held a position of power over me — by accurately describing a flirtation or moment of impropriety, one that in fact I either enjoyed or brushed off as harmless, merely by adding the words, “I was traumatized by it?”

The definition of harassment is now entirely subjective: The things men and women very naturally do — flirt, play, desire, tease — become harassment only by virtue of the words, “I was traumatized by it.” The onus properly to understand the interaction and its emotional subtleties seems always to fall entirely on the man: He should have understood that his behavior wasn’t welcome. Why is understanding the complex eternal dance between men and women entirely his responsibility? Perhaps she should have understood that his behavior wasn’t harmful? Perhaps she should have understood that it was sweet, or clumsy — or perhaps that he genuinely believed it to be welcome?

[Arun’s friend] asks, “WT[redacted] is so hard about [figuring out whether an advance is welcome]?” Seriously? WT[redacted] is so hard about figuring out whether someone is attracted to you? Everything is so hard about it! The difficulty of ascertaining whether one’s passions are reciprocated is the theme of 90 percent of human literature and every romantic comedy or pop song ever written. We’re talking about the most complex of human emotions, the most powerful of human drives, and you say, “WT[redacted] is so hard about that?” Google “Is she attracted to me?” to see how desperate men are to figure this out.

It is not a healthy situation when I have the power to ruin men’s lives simply by changing the way I feel about a memory. This is a sign of cultural hysteria. Anyone who imagines men and women will cease to be attracted to each other — and to behave as if they were — in the workplace, or any other place, is delusional.

I think Leon Wieseltier’s often a windbag, but I would have read any journal he edited with interest; I am sorry I won’t have the chance. From what I’ve read of the alleged facts of the accusations against him — and remember, these are not facts as a court of law would view it, we do not know for sure that this is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth — it sounds as if Leon was a flirt. ‘The only problem with that dress is that it’s not tight enough,” he reportedly said. Countless men — some of them in a “position of power” over me — men who perhaps could have offered me work, or had offered me work — have said similar things to me. I literally thought nothing of it. I was amused. The comment sounds like the normal banter of men and women the world around.

At times, we have learned, when he was drunk, Leon made passes at co-workers. Who hasn’t? Seriously, who — in the real world — hasn’t been drunk and made a pass at a co-worker? But somehow from this we are to conclude that “Leon delighted in making young women sexually uncomfortable.” (Per the Atlantic.) Actually, we know no such thing from the facts as described: We know only that he was a flirt who made passes at his co-workers. These crimes are so unforgivable that without benefit of a trial his career must be destroyed; the accusation is itself the punishment — agonizing public humiliation, the exposure to the world of his human sexual foibles. I’m sure this makes him “uncomfortable” too — in fact, almost certainly more “uncomfortable” than any woman has a right to be under the circumstances described in these salacious articles.

Per the Atlantic: “One night most of the staff went out. Leon cornered me by the bathroom and kissed me. I clapped my hand over my mouth and he said, ‘I’ve always known you’d do that.’”

So?

What do we have here: A man kissed a woman. He said, “I’ve always known you’d do that.” We know nothing else about this. It is only the grave prose surrounding this description that makes this sound sinister: “Decidedly not a joke” … “I felt terrible afterwards.” The only thing that transforms this story from “a drunken kiss at a party” to “a crime worthy of lifetime banishment from the public square” are the words, “I felt terrible afterwards.” But surely what she felt should be less important than what happened? — and what happened, apparently, is that he kissed her. We do not know why she felt terrible. We do not even ask whether he felt terrible: It feels terrible to be rejected; so I reckon he probably did feel terrible. But this perfectly normal thing, this thing that happens between men and women all the time, and always will, has been pathologized beyond all reason.

Weinstein, allegedly, raped women. There is a universe of difference between rape and Leon’s alleged crimes. He was prone to “passing along a mundane bit of office gossip, suggesting it was a great secret, and telling me that if I ever revealed it to anyone, he’d “tell people we’re [redacted].” This, apparently, is unpardonable. Gossiping and using the word “[redacted].” Casual, vulgar banter — typical of the way men and women in New York really speak to each other each and every day.

If saying such things is now an unpardonable crime, we will all go to the gallows. Or we will all cease to be human.

***

I’m really curious to know whether you agree. It’s just common sense, right? But some people seem to disagree with me strenuously. I mean, more than you guys disagree with me about Trump.

Do you guys agree with me about this?

There are 96 comments.

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  1. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    I agree with your statement regarding what would happen if you changed the words  “charmingly flirtatious” to “unwelcome, or traumatic”.

    I have been in the military or associated with it my entire adult life, since the time I left home until today, 33 years. In that time I have been taught that the difference between “charmingly flirtatious” and “unwelcome, or traumatic” is the difference between having my career or not. Yes, it all depends on how it is received and not at all how it is transmitted. Congress holds hearings if enough of these cases pop up and for the next several years, our annual training requirement on the difference is doubled.

    We live with it and, frankly, for the most part, I agree that the workplace is no place for those kinds of comments or behaviors. Commenting to a co-worker that you think their outfit needs to be more revealing is simply out of bounds.

    I am glad that you have a spirit of fun and can laugh it off – that is a blessing, truly. Doesn’t make the behavior right.

    So yes, agree that sacking people for being flirtatious is getting out of hand. Most of the concerns I see, however deal with actual sexual assault and those deserve no mercy.

    No wonder the left thinks the right is misogynistic, they are projecting their own experiences onto their enemies. “Binders of women” anyone?

    • #1
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Mike Pence is pilloried for doing his best not to be in a situation where he can be attacked.

    Men are at fault no matter what. The message is clear: women can do no wrong, and if bad things happen, blame men.

     

    • #2
  3. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I don’t know what’s changing exactly. It’s hard not to notice that the men being publicly humiliated had enemies & few defenders & are past their prime.

    The anti-sex ideology to a large extent seems to be part of a new class divide in America. It’s hard not to notice it emerges in liberal-dominated societies where liberal ideology doesn’t seem to offer any path forward for its constituents.

    It’s harder to figure out what’s happening to civilized people who are figuring out that sexual individualism is pretty miserable for lots of people; maybe most. Marriage is not coming back in a big way; there are no associations to help people learn how to be dignified; tech, if anything, seems to be making things worse rather than better.

    • #3
  4. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    If you are a cis Caucasian male then in a business situation or any action with coworkers interaction needs to be kept on a business only level.  No personal information should be requested or given.  No sexual interaction ever.  This is especially true if you are interacting with “minority” individuals, especially women.  Anything else leaves you open to attack and removal.  Cis Caucasian males are current being warred upon as the society becomes femine and minority dominated and cis Caucasian males are reduced / eliminated / destroyed.

     

     

     

     

    • #4
  5. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    Yes, you accurately describe the sad and entirely incoherent state of affairs. Women must simultaneously be seen as frail victims of men in dire need of protection (due process of law! “WT* is that necessary?”), their physical and mental equals and moral superiors. Like individually-commanded pronouns, it’s impossible to keep up with this lunacy.

    • #5
  6. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    I don’t know what’s changing exactly. It’s hard not to notice that the men being publicly humiliated had enemies & few defenders & are past their prime.

    The anti-sex ideology to a large extent seems to be part of a new class divide in America. It’s hard not to notice it emerges in liberal-dominated societies where liberal ideology doesn’t seem to offer any path forward for its constituents.

    It’s harder to figure out what’s happening to civilized people who are figuring out that sexual individualism is pretty miserable for lots of people; maybe most. Marriage is not coming back in a big way; there are no associations to help people learn how to be dignified; tech, if anything, seems to be making things worse rather than better.

    It’s a power dynamic change.  Women are stretching their new found power to the new women ran utopia the feminist have been promising.  If you don’t like how it looks maybe it is because the utopia is not for you.

    • #6
  7. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    There are two distinctions that have to be drawn.  The general outing of bad conduct and the definition of bad conduct.  Bad conduct is a sliding scale and every botched flirtation should not be likened to rape.  That said, I think there is a lot of conduct that is well on the criminal side of the ledger that has yet to be revealed and the need to separate out more mild misconduct from sexual assault should be done in a way that does not keep victims of crimes from coming forward.  The rapists needs to be put behind bars and any institutions that have been abetting them need to be cleansed with fire.

     

    • #7
  8. Danny Alexander Member
    Danny Alexander
    @DannyAlexander

    Comments and/or repartee, limited to a single episode, may be reprimand-worthy.

    Comments and/or repartee, aimed at one specific colleague over multiple episodes, would certainly merit reprimand and have a high probability of meriting a warning about punishment.

    Post-warning, resumption of comments and/or repartee per above must merit punishment, severity of which I’m not in a position to suggest.

    That’s what the ground rules must needs look like at the level of comments and/or repartee.

    Any form of physical contact (unless envisioned/anticipated as ordinary and necessary contact as part of a group/team exercise or activity mandated by a training curriculum [and acknowledging that these can run the gamut from the inspiring to the execrable]), requires scrutiny and sensitivity — but also a willingness to mete out punishment if said scrutiny yields consensus about guilt/accountability, regardless of references to local cultural or even more universalistic norms.

    I say the above as someone who lives in Japan currently, with an involvement in Japanese working life stretching back close to 30 years; cauldrons upon cauldrons, stretching as far as the eye can see here, full of bubbling stews of bizarre, maddening workplace boundary-grazing and boundary-crossing, to put it mildly

    I also say this as someone who has lived in Israel previously, and has not only followed with dismay media coverage of recurring cases of sexual harrassment and worse in institutions ranging from the IDF to the yeshiva world — but has also been personally, directly forced to address the impact, in both familial and pedagogical contexts, of power-imbalance-driven non-consensual sexual relations (one case of which was tantamount to date-rape).

    I’m sorry, but variations on the oh-so-French theme of insouciance concerning the mysteries of male-female interactions (to say nothing of male-male, adult-child, and who knows what other variants) may have pragmatic value as descriptives, but not as prescriptives.

    Incidentally, while I don’t know any details of the accusations being raised against Leon Wieseltier (although I do instinctively distrust him for brazenly running out the statute-of-limitations clock on ridiculous hair), I’m struck by what seems to be an eerie commonality amongst the women allegedly victimized by Harvey Weinstein over the decades.

    Correct me if I’m wrong here, but uniformly the allegedly victimized women all seem to be non-Jews (in halachic/Jewish legal terms, Gwyneth Paltrow is not Jewish, notwithstanding her father’s heritage).

    This has struck me as an added sick psychological twist to Weinstein’s alleged crimes and violations:  Not only was he allegedly abusing the power of his position in the Hollywood production system, vis-a-vis aspiring women actresses and/or those seeking a career-defining role; it would seem to me that Weinstein also was doing his damnedest to humiliate non-Jewish women in particular, again and again, as if to avenge humiliations he might have felt at the hands of non-Jewish women growing up.

    • #8
  9. Danny Alexander Member
    Danny Alexander
    @DannyAlexander

    #7 Quinn the Eskimo

    Wholeheartedly agree — wish I could “Like” your observation a million times over!

    • #9
  10. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    I don’t know what’s changing exactly

    Certainly among the things that’s changing is the ease with which mobs on the Internet can be mobilized — and information hacked. It is so easy for a mindless mob to descend upon someone and turn their personal lives into the hysterical scandal of the day. None of us lead lives so faultless that we can’t be targeted this way. This kind of hysteria — the #metoo hysteria — is just one of many. The larger pattern is a standard moral panic plus Internet mobbing — and when the mob descends on a target of any prominence, it’s as good as a death sentence, socially and professionally.

    The US is especially prone to sexual hysterias, for some reason — anyone remember how thoroughly we convinced ourselves that our children were being ritually raped by Satanists? But we’re now spreading these kinds of hysteria at the speed of light thanks to the Internet. Some of it is being amplified by bots. Some of it is obviously the product of a deliberate campaign to destroy people; some of it is spontaneous. Social media is turning us into lunatics. And I don’t quite know what can be done about it: I fear our First Amendment jurisprudence is not quite up to the challenges of the 21st century. Looks to me like Leon — a prominent political voice — was silenced by a hysterical mob: That’s not quite how a free society is supposed to work, is it?

    • #10
  11. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    You are correct.

    @GaryRobbins  posted some of your anti-Trump Russia material yesterday.  You can start at his post, based on Joe Scarborough’s article,  and add to it for your collusion post.  The conversation was pretty civil.

     

    • #11
  12. contrarian Inactive
    contrarian
    @Contrarian

    The concern I’ve had is that ‘me too’ seems to be  encouraging people to redefine and/or conflate:

    1. rape
    2. sexual assault
    3. sexual harassment
    4. unwelcome sexual attention

    I felt that these categories could be clearly delineated a month ago.

    I thought: 1 and 2 are serious crimes. 3 isn’t a crime but can have legal consequences and always involves either an abuse of or a misuse of authority. 4 is a social transgression. It varies from mean spirited behavior to an innocent mistake. The worst offenses may result in ostracism, but in some cases it’s most polite to pretend you didn’t even notice.

    Now I don’t know how these things are defined.

    • #12
  13. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    I agree about the mobs. That seems to be an inevitable feature of democracy. Americans are publicly especially crazy about sex (but also drinking, no?) just like public America is remarkably tasteless about it.

    But don’t neglect the institutional side–every big story so far has been partly, maybe crucially, the work of the old media associations, & very close to their own societies/constituencies/audiences.

    As for the tech–I’ve not yet seen its force so far. Internet is not necessary to get this thing started or to keep it happening in the way in which the Ronan Farrow reporting was, right?

    • #13
  14. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: The onus properly to understand the interaction and its emotional subtleties seems always to fall entirely on the man: He should have understood that his behavior wasn’t welcome. Why is understanding the complex eternal dance between men and women entirely his responsibility? Perhaps she should have understood that his behavior wasn’t harmful? Perhaps she should have understood that it was sweet, or clumsy — or perhaps that he genuinely believed it to be welcome?

    If you listen to relatively more intelligent feminists, you learn, it’s not just his responsibility. This link is NSFW and your mind might boggle at the context in which the writer describes “missing stairs”, but the writer has a point. (One point she doesn’t make – which conservatives would – is that the absence of time-tested norms makes the proliferation of “missing stairs” very much easier.)

    I wasn’t  a woman “reduce[d]… to sexual innocen[ce]”. I simply was, literally, that innocent. And yes, the genuinely predatory will use the impression of being “clumsy” and the pretense “I totally believed it might be welcome” to their advantage. And sometimes it will be impossible for a young woman, particularly if she is innocent, to tell. Being pinned down and groped unexpectedly, is that a sign that the guy who did this has a predatory streak and the gropee has a duty to warn others? Or was it just the hapless result of innocence meeting experience in farcical miscommunication?

    When I found myself in that situation, my ultimate decision was to try to thread the needle: file an informational report, but no charges, with the police, signing a statement that, if other women did press charges against him, and my story supported their claim, I’d volunteer it then. Nothing ever came of it, so I do hope it was just a horrible misunderstanding. I didn’t want to ruin a young man’s life it if could have possibly been a misunderstanding, but at the same time it seemed silly to expect young women from diverse backgrounds, some of whom may also be “sweet, or clumsy” to treat all young men with the level of suspicion that would have been necessary to fend the groping off on the grounds that there was nothing wrong or even unusual about what this particular guy did.

    • #14
  15. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    contrarian (View Comment):
    I thought: 1 and 2 are serious crimes.

    If sexual assault is always a serious crime, this creates the oddity of having to treat pretty serious gropings (which are serious social offenses, but not necessarily serious crimes) as merely “sexual harassment”. I am not sure that makes sense, to conflate groping with a coworker who happened to make a tasteless joke.

    • #15
  16. Weeping Inactive
    Weeping
    @Weeping

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Why is understanding the complex eternal dance between men and women entirely his responsibility? Perhaps she should have understood that his behavior wasn’t harmful? Perhaps she should have understood that it was sweet, or clumsy — or perhaps that he genuinely believed it to be welcome?

    I completely agree with you on the subject – especially this statement.

    Claire Berlinski, Ed. (View Comment):
    … anyone remember how thoroughly we convinced ourselves that our children were being ritually raped by Satanists?

    I don’t remember it, but I have read about it. Talk about crazy!

    • #16
  17. Weeping Inactive
    Weeping
    @Weeping

     

    contrarian (View Comment):
    The concern I’ve had is that ‘me too’ seems to be encouraging people to redefine and/or conflate:

    1. rape
    2. sexual assault
    3. sexual harassment
    4. unwelcome sexual attention

    I felt that these categories could be clearly delineated a month ago.

    I thought: 1 and 2 are serious crimes. 3 isn’t a crime but can have legal consequences and always involves either an abuse of or a misuse of authority. 4 is a social transgression. It varies from mean spirited behavior to an innocent mistake. The worst offenses may result in ostracism, but in some cases it’s most polite to pretend you didn’t even notice.

    Now I don’t know how these things are defined.

    Absolutely. Lumping them all together in polls and statistics does no one any favors.  It only serves to feed the hysteria.

    • #17
  18. Snirtler Inactive
    Snirtler
    @Snirtler

    Danny Alexander (View Comment):
    #7 Quinn the Eskimo

    Wholeheartedly agree — wish I could “Like” your observation a million times over!

    Me too. As always, Quinn is full of good sense.

    My having read an article or two on Leon Wieseltier’s transgressions in no way gives me a full picture, but I’m with Instugator that repeated salacious comments to colleagues and underlings is out of bounds in the workplace, New York worldliness notwithstanding.

    From Michelle Cottle’s account in The Atlantic, apart from repeatedly hitting on her, he made what seems to be an implied threat to her reputation. She had to indulge his penchant for salacious office gossip and promise not to tell, lest he would tell people–falsely–that they were consorting with each other.

    No decent woman wants her professional reputation sullied and, in this context, to be thought of having slept her way to getting published or getting good projects.

    Wieseltier’s behavior towards her wasn’t rape, but it was at least a misuse of authority and a total dearth of understanding where to draw professional boundaries–when he should have really known better.

    • #18
  19. Kim K. Inactive
    Kim K.
    @KimK

    There has to be some accounting for time. These accusations that are occurring years after the fact need to be treated a little more skeptically, in my opinion. Back in the day, when I was working my husband through college, I made the princely sum of $4.50/hour. My co-workers and I, all young 20-somethings, often talked about our lack of sufficient funds. One guy occasionally threw out the quip, “well, we know Kim is flat busted,” which, coincidentally, also summed up my physique. A few shut-ups got him to stop. I can’t imagine coming back now and accusing him of something I had the power to stop 30 years ago.

    In many cases  (not rape or forcible assault) the woman has the ability to put a stop to the behavior.  Either by just saying no, reporting it, or removing herself from the potential situation. It would suck if that meant changing jobs or forsaking a career dream of being a famous movie star. Women can’t be expected to be treated as equals and claim to be powerless  – until decades after the fact.

     

     

    • #19
  20. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    Can universal 24/7 body cams be far off? If only the intersectional indignation in the US could be harnessed to generate electricity, global warming could be eliminated.

    • #20
  21. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Snirtler (View Comment):
    From Michelle Cottle’s account in The Atlantic, apart from repeatedly hitting on her, he made what seems to be an implied threat to her reputation. She had to indulge his penchant for salacious office gossip and promise not to tell, lest he would tell people–falsely–that they were consorting with each other.

    No decent woman wants her professional reputation sullied and, in this context, to be thought of having slept her way to getting published or getting good projects.

    Wieseltier’s behavior towards her wasn’t rape, but it was at least a misuse of authority and a total dearth of understanding where to draw professional boundaries–when he should have really known better.

    If the account you described is accurate, that’s not “dearth of understanding”, that’s “understanding how to make use of the ambiguity inherent in flirtation in order to bully and manipulate others”.

    “If you stand up to me, I’ll falsely accuse you” isn’t hard to recognize as bullying when sexual tension isn’t involved, and it can work just as well or better with sexual tension in the mix. (As soon as youth discover sex, the bullies among them discover sexual bullying.)

    • #21
  22. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    “The onus properly to understand the interaction and its emotional subtleties seems always to fall entirely on the man.”

    That is how women are acting. Why ? I think, because, this explosion of pent up anger they’re experiencing is unacknowledged anger at themselves. Women are pitching a fit similar to the way people do when they get ripped off trying to buy hot merchandise ( or similar to the way people do when they blow up and blame entirely one party because they can’t afford to confront some other party. I’m thinking of  women who were vulnerable to harassment, or worse, from men because they followed bad advise given to them by other women.)

    • #22
  23. Snirtler Inactive
    Snirtler
    @Snirtler

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Snirtler (View Comment):
    From Michelle Cottle’s account in The Atlantic, apart from repeatedly hitting on her, he made what seems to be an implied threat to her reputation. She had to indulge his penchant for salacious office gossip and promise not to tell, lest he would tell people–falsely–that they were consorting with each other.

    No decent woman wants her professional reputation sullied and, in this context, to be thought of having slept her way to getting published or getting good projects.

    Wieseltier’s behavior towards her wasn’t rape, but it was at least a misuse of authority and a total dearth of understanding where to draw professional boundaries–when he should have really known better.

    If the account you described is accurate, that’s not “dearth of understanding”, that’s “understanding how to make use of the ambiguity inherent in flirtation in order to bully and manipulate others”.

    “If you stand up to me, I’ll falsely accuse you” isn’t hard to recognize as bullying when sexual tension isn’t involved, and it can work just as well or better with sexual tension in the mix. (As soon as youth discover sex, the bullies among them discover sexual bullying.)

    I can get behind this critique of my comment.

    • #23
  24. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    I agree about the mobs. That seems to be an inevitable feature of democracy.

    Titus, are you suggesting that people who live in polities that are not “democracies” are not susceptible to mob behavior?

    • #24
  25. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Our social fabric and relationship conventions have been destroyed over the past five decades. The desired freedom and sexual liberation, now accomplished, comes with host of unpleasant- even unhealthy- side effects and consequences.

    I was not happy at the time, but in retrospect, I am grateful that my “meddling” grandmother, with her Pence-like attitudes, put me on a path to escape this nonsense.

    At 54, I was just a babe during the purple haze of the 60’s & 70’s, I’ll still say, “I told you so.” Because my Granny was right.

    • #25
  26. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    I admit I haven’t read the stuff at the links in this post yet. But it does occur to me that there’s no way a man who was formerly a woman’s friendly acquaintance, and is now someone she wants out of the way—for whatever reason—there’s no way that man can prove this: a year earlier, when he joked that he would falsely claim to co-workers they were having an affair if she didn’t agree to do the extra paperwork that week, she and he both understood him to be making a joke about the gossipy nature of their workplace. She never believed he was seriously threatening to do such a thing.

    • #26
  27. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    A great deal of corporate America has been going through “Sexual Harassment Training” for quite a while now. I tried to tell them that I’m already adept at it and they should let me “proficiency out,” but so far, no dice.

    Seriously, once per year Human Resources schedules everyone for every kind of diversity training under the sun. Lately this has taken the form of online video training, Those are preferable to the live ones with “facilitators” mainly because when you are in your office, no one can see you yawning. How did all these media outfits manage to dodge this nonsense for so long?

    • #27
  28. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    I don’t know what’s changing exactly. It’s hard not to notice that the men being publicly humiliated had enemies & few defenders & are past their prime.

    The anti-sex ideology to a large extent seems to be part of a new class divide in America. It’s hard not to notice it emerges in liberal-dominated societies where liberal ideology doesn’t seem to offer any path forward for its constituents.

    It’s harder to figure out what’s happening to civilized people who are figuring out that sexual individualism is pretty miserable for lots of people; maybe most. Marriage is not coming back in a big way; there are no associations to help people learn how to be dignified; tech, if anything, seems to be making things worse rather than better.

    Unconsciously, we’re looking for someone or some group to blame for the misery and confusion caused by the behavior of the sexual revolution. Men who once had a lot of power or influence, and who are now past their prime and in a less stable position, are just perfect targets; especially because women so much resent that it was the women, not the men, most adversely affected by the “new morality” that women, as much as men if not more, advocated.

     

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  29. Scarlet Pimpernel Inactive
    Scarlet Pimpernel
    @ScarletPimpernel

    This is part of the reason why so many Americans were willing to overlook Mr. Trump’s many problems and vote for him anyway.  (And I am not saying I am one who did). Many are tired of this kind of arbitrary bullying–the standard is so capricious that we can never know what is and what is not allowed.  And that’s the case across a number of areas of life. Think of bakers being run out of business for refusing to work a wedding they thought sinful. (Same bakers refused to honor ceremonies against their consciences).

    Part of the problem is the effort to regulate/ prevent anything bad happening to anyone, even hurt feelings.

    My whimsical side suggests this. Pick two: co-ed workplace, no taboo on sex outside marriage, minimal sex harassment or worse in the workplace.  As Ms. Berlinski notes, it is in the nature of male-female relations to have ambiguities and differences of interpretation and motivation.  Once we are in co-ed workplace, dating will sometimes take place (good luck trying to regulate it out of existence).  Marriages often start that way, as do many healthy relationships that don’t get that far.  So long as we don’t abolish the chase (again, good luck with that), sometimes it will be the case that a man must convince a woman to date him. Any such effort can be construed as harassment.  Is there any reasonable way to distinguish asking someone out several times (relationships have been known to start that way, no?), and malevolent harassment? I doubt it.

    We are trying to regulate areas of life that are not amenable to regulation.

    But why are we doing so?  Because the abuses are real and, I gather, common.  Is there a possible law that can draw the line with any degree of accuracy?   I don’t think so.

    P,S. Is it worth noting the irony of the Clinton impeachment? He was impeached because of perjury and obstruction of justice charges that grew from a sexual harassment case.  Why was that a federal case? Because he signed a bill many of us opposed not because we endorse sexual harassment, but rather because the bill was arbitrary. The statute of limitations for the Arkansas law was passed, so Paula Jones turned to the federal bill, and that’s how Clinton got into trouble.

    And the ironic ending. Public sympathy for being a victim of that arbitrary bill.

    • #29
  30. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    “Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against—then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted—and you create a nation of lawbreakers—and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”  Ayn Rand

     

    • #30
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