No it’s not a sex panic yet, but how do we avoid one; how do we appropriately punish the guilty and spare the innocent, spare people who just wanted to ask a girl out, who genuinely believed behavior to be consensual? How do we distinguish accurately between aspects like sexual regret and sexual misconduct, assault and rape; we don’t know but #metoo doesn’t either despite clamoring for social change, a society wide behavior shift.
Rarely seen, a movement sweeping so broadly across the nation, through all career fields, that it’s exposing the seedy nature of sexual abuse at work and happened simultaneously via twitter makes it all the more remarkable; nevertheless, such is the story of #metoo spearheaded by Alyssa Milano hoping to alert the nation Bill Cosby wasn’t a one off, Harvey Weinstein was just the tip of the iceberg and not singularly in entertainment, executives heading major companies like what we discovered at Fox news, the creator who stepped down from Disney thanks to #metoo scrutiny/stories telling him he has a problem, TV/print journalism, reaching celebrity chefs, casino moguls, congresspersons. Really following on the heels of brave stars like Viola Davis and Even Rachel Wood, sharing their stories of sexual assault well outside the industry at the hands of a significant other and by the owner of a bar in Wood’s case, Davis referencing a friend from childhood along with sobering statistics 1-4 women will be victims of sexual assault by age 18 as she spoke at the Rape Foundation’s annual Brunch late 2016. Amber Tamblyn, probably most known for her role in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, penning her sex assault story on Instagram that same year, and spoke to Salon.com upon recently giving birth to her first child, a daughter, about raising a girl in Trump’s America last year. Related movements, tweet me your first assaults catalyst candidate now president Trump’s (conspicuously absent from the #metoo discussions or thoughts given toward bringing him to anything looking like justice other than to ask why he hasn’t been included) infamous Access Hollywood tape, Billy Bush’s response, broadening out to the sexual harassment, misconduct, assault and rape happening daily in the general public, particularly to women and girls, as they go about their business riding busses, seeing doctors, interacting with camp counselors, older, supposed to be venerable community members, incidents walking down grocery aisles as children, tweens, not to be left off, at work. Stunning comprehension, the journalist asking for stories merely gaging the response she might receive said first assault, another jarring fact once a girl/woman has been the victim of child sexual abuse, incest, experienced sex assault or rape she is a prime target to be repeatedly re-victimized (and no that wasn’t a backhanded comment about how our justice system treats people reporting such assaults though too a hard truth); instead highlighting the multiple number of times a woman could face sexual abuse, assault, misconduct, harassment and rape in her lifetime. Only to find social media responses bearing that out, there were women coming forward who couldn’t remember their first but chronicled their worst in twitter’s then 140 characters (they doubled the character limit November 2017), women trying to decide which assault, harassment, groping, inappropriate comment story to divulge best representing what they wanted to tell the world. Dovetailing directly into the previously reported wide spread problem of doctors abusing their patients, groping and molesting primarily women in the dentist chair, under office anesthetic, coming out of office anesthetic; matching ‘tweet me’ stories of teens being fondled while fitted for contacts, being forced to undress in a demonologists office with him watching under the guise of treatment for a legitimate skin condition. Specialists that take a lot of money to make so their departments, medical boards are reluctant to permanently pull their licenses; former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar whose saga just keeps despicably evolving, the latest a male victim coming forward saying he too was abused by the now disgraced doctor serving multiple life sentences for abuse of some 200 gymnasts, athletics participants involved in USA gymnastics or at MSU. His downfall spotlighting years of abuse that went on regardless of people being told, the precious little done across the board to stop blatant predation, dangerously set up conditions in the sport making situations hopeless for young athletes to avoid abuse. Coaches whose response to said abuse reports, uncomfortable feelings girls could scarcely define was: “he’s my friend he would never do that,” one telling gymnasts they misunderstood what Nassar had done to them; Michigan police even falling for a PowerPoint presentation describing what Nassar deemed a ‘medical technique’ (which involved squeezing the victim’s breast and trying to insert his finger into her vagina so we’re perfectly clear about his actions), a presentation designed by Nassar himself, no corroborating medical research done before telling her and her parents the ‘medical treatment’ was legitimate, apologizing as Nassar awaited his 3rd sentencing in the state. His first known male victim, when Nassar was exposed, began looking on the internet for other instances of the ‘treatment’ he received from Nasser that involved administering acupuncture to his pubic region while treating a shoulder injury; no shortage of shocked and betrayed when he found none, coming to the jarring realization he’d been abused, he too was a victim, hoping to give male victims a platform to speak up about their own experiences. Adult responses all eerily similar to ‘tweet me’ stories where girls told a teacher or coach about a boy classmate flipping up her skirt, grabbing her chest in elementary/middle school told by those same teachers, coaches not to make things up, 20/20’s passing the trash segment chronicling how an elementary school teacher stayed on the job, in part because who the child told gave an almost identical he’s my friend response. America’s overwhelming epidemic of catcallers as news outlets profile women walking down our biggest, most popular city streets, women who can’t go running without having people shout things at them, walk around in office attire without a woman having to create counter catcalling cards giving men something else to say to women besides the rude comment they just uttered, make them understand the demoralizing effect of what they said to them, what it says about their character, maturity level. However, with every revolution comes some innocent casualties; #metoo is no exception better defining the rule than anything. In our haste to provide the long overdue reckoning for past injustices centering around sexual harassment, assault and rape perpetrated by powerful people, with equally deep pockets often times, that it happened while women and no shortage of men were at work, operating in their chosen career field, Hollywood though it might be, adding a special layer of fright and urgency, an alarming 2 fold trend is starting to emerge; trials in the court of public opinion taken several steps too far and a willingness to forgo due process in favor of showing solidarity with victimized women, women in general. The age of #metoo means to be accused is to be guilty, not that being accused of rape, child sex abuse, pedophilia a-la Roy Moore hasn’t always come with an irredeemable pallor to it regardless what was found or wasn’t; case in point Michael Jackson. Where his alleged crimes against a child were tried via the tabloid media bringing out every supposed eccentricity as ‘proof’ he liked to fondle little boys, never mind most of them were unproven gossip worthy only of the supermarket rags they were printed in; fast forward 15 years, fake news surrounding the election and America once again hasn’t learned its lesson. That to be famous, to be powerful, to be a known name is to be a target, there will always be a cluster of groupie fan girls or guys swirling around you who want to be your girlfriend/boyfriend, marry you, have your baby, father your child to access the fame and money associated with you. You will attract no shortage of mentally unbalanced and obsessed persons; endless is the number of varying level stars who have been subject to stalking, home break-ins and physical attacks, activists, congresspersons and others of the like lobbed death threats over issues stances, political viewpoints, enacted policies isolated members of the public didn’t agree with. That sex assault, abuse and rape (when it comes to dealing a deathblow to the rich and powerful) is a revenge weapon wielded to get access to their fame and fortune after a romantic relationship went south or a business deal went sour, something so small as feeling slighted, ignored at an event, just as Eminem; that they dropped criminal charges when Mr. Jackson’s victim abruptly refused to testify but the case was settled in out of court civil proceedings for undisclosed millions, case originally brought a mere 7 days after Jackson refused an entertainment deal offer from the boy’s father, speaks volumes. Headlines another boy with an opportunistic mother demonstrated in court (case gone to trial this time) to be greedy and money seeking tired the same thing 12 years later might have served as a clue; still unto his death Michael Jackson remained an accused pedophile in the eyes of much of America. More recent examples of innocence tarnished and lives derailed by maligning false accusations, well beyond the Duke Lacrosse case where lets recall a stripper for a party attended by those players claimed rape when it turns out DNA cleared the fingered players and she had engaged in consensual sex before her appearance there. Consider the convoluted wrongful conviction of Brian Banks promising high school football player with a full ride to college until convicted, conviction finally overturned when his accuser sought him out on Facebook post 5 years in prison, 5 on parole (part of a plea deal to avoid literally decades behind bars) to recant the whole thing; initially convicted on kidnapping and rape charges stemming from the then teen girl’s testimony alone. The 2010 20/20 segment telling the twisted tale of Biurny Peguero and William McCaffrey, ordinary citizens Jane and Joe respectively; Peguero who seems to have lied about being raped because when the ‘crazy drunk guy’ suddenly got into her friend’s car to invite the carload of partying girls to an after party they fled the vehicle while she hit the gas, unable to find the party, scared about what might happen next she returns to where she left her friends telling them a story about rape to appease their anger at being stranded. Story backed up in their eyes by her disheveled hair and running mascara from obvious crying, corroborated in the eyes of police by bite marks actually sustained during her fight with her friends tested 4 years from the incident in 2009, DNA confirming saliva found was female, McCaffrey’s conviction overturned; Peguero representing something else, a rare instance, as rare as statistics of women who lie about rape are said to be, consequences for the willfully errant accuser sentenced to1-3 in prison for her accusations. Recounting statutory rape was one of the extensive list of charges brought against the 2 boys in the group who came to be known as the South Hadley 6 implicated in the suicide bullying death of Phoebe Prince circa 2011; though all accounts say the relationship was consensual and initiated by Phoebe herself with boy 1 and boy 2 acknowledged being friends with her but consistently denied sex ever took place, charges not dropped until a new prosecutor was bought in to replace the patterned overzealous one outed by solid journalistic reporting on her misconduct in theirs and one prior case. Ponder Rolling Stone’s 2014 feature piece ‘A Rape on Campus’ telling the story of UVA student Jackie where journalists didn’t bother to confirm basic facts like when the fraternity accused in what was described as gang rape of Jackie held meetings, interview her friends who had contact with her that very night according to her account each had parts to play in the aftermath; the fallout when none of her facts added up, the liable suit against Rolling Stone lodged by the university’s president she won in an effort to regain some of her unfairly tarnished reputation. No one doubting something awful happened to Jackie, it just wasn’t at the hands of the UVA fraternity or its members. NBA star Derrick Rose and 2 friends brought up on rape charges able to secure a not guilty verdict, provide proof there was at least a possibility he was being set up via text messages expressing her willingness to meet the group. Revelations early 2017 the white woman who accused teenaged Emit Till (whose lynching death galvanized the mid 50’s segregationist south civil rights movement) of having whistled at her made it up, true story uncovered by historians. Phenomenon ongoing, a litany of news reports showcasing teens, young women who lie about rape. That, on the other hand, certain types of desperate people will latch themselves onto a revolution, a movement like #metoo to transform themselves from insignificant to significant, to seek attention whether they have any personal experience with the cause, issue or not, and like rape as revenge stories, if they don’t have it they will fabricate it; whether those circumstances apply to any of the #metoo stories presented here warrants greater investigation than we’ve been presented with thus far. The troubling #metoo response present less in decades old cases like Moore and Cosby, Weinstein, where all we have to go on are the victim’s statements about what happened, there was no trial and won’t be due to the statute of limitations, honestly so many women coming forward telling such similar stories, their behavior so pervasive it’s obvious accused men are guilty of horrendously bad judgment if nothing else. Rather in current cases where there is recourse of ethics bodies say in congress, internal industry, company investigations but booting any one accused out, harboring little thought is more expedient, reviewing settlement details less important than swift, speedy resignations, looking like you’re taking action in the wake of a movement, hardly noticing if it’s the right action. And while trying to have serious discussions about how Roy Moore was able to do what he did, Harvey Weinstein do what he did, Bill Cosby literally drug so many women, Kevin Spacy harm that number of people and the world hear so little about it until years and years later, start serious debates and practical actions making workplaces safe for women, branch #metoo out beyond known names, famous faces, huge industries down to working class Americans, service workers most often subjected to sex harassment, assault, abuse and rape under threat of their job, socially stop instances related to #metoo brought to light by ‘tweet me your first assaults’ and other powerful memes. We either get stale, old thought patterns from persons like Mika Brzezinski covered in part 2 blaming women for the abuse they suffered, blaming women for daring to engage in their workplace as fully as men do even if that means going out for drinks, demand/expect privacy when speaking to their boss about a reprimand, failure or firing, sensitive HR issue versus glass offices and open doors making all the wrong kinds of your business public, the former causing more problems than their worth in other areas as well. Bashing women who dare hold jobs being personal assistant to someone, who dare work on an unconventional worksite, conflating the difference between a consensual interoffice romance with instances from the #metoo phenomenon, being in a co-worker intimate relationship and “having sex at work,” when she wasn’t calling out millennials for in office beer, sleep pods used for sex not sleep, forget millennials are the ones making claims against much older men in usually Hollywood, not against themselves, each other in newer office environments. Or employers who think they’ve solved the ‘metoo problem’ just don’t hire women, just don’t take them on the business trip, just don’t promote them to key positions, and be prepared for a slew of discrimination lawsuits, instead of fixing any of the above problems leading to sex harassment, assault, abuse and rape; that’s when everyone hasn’t collectively decided to throw all men under the bus distinction slowly eroding to a lost cause, lost art, lost idea as Bill Maher pointed out in his new rules segment. Highlighting suddenly the rampant pedophilia and its lasting consequences perpetrated by Moore is identical to the crude comment from the identified creepy guy at the office, the exhibitionism of Louis C.K. is equivalent to full on rape, assault in the back of a van and a backrub by the watercooler are equally criminal; except even the most illogical, irrational person, the people peddling it who have temporarily suspended their use of both higher thought forms know it’s not. Being a jerk is now a crime, being awkward with the opposite sex or your sexual preference is grounds for being lumped in with patterned predators, flirting and testing someone’s interest has now risen to the level of harassment even if you listen to a woman’s no and never bother them again, dare to seek clarification make sure you understand what’s happening; seeking a date, forget going on one, ending up on a bad date now makes you a horrible person, people hearing it shouting no it doesn’t. Having the demonized mutually consensual 1 night stand, casual hookup enough to get you shamed out of your career if in any way in the public eye and brought up on charges if you’re and ordinary person. Which isn’t how it should be; social facts pointed out by several op-ed, commentary writers detailing the dangers of conflating all #metoo stories explaining and summing it up succinctly while providing us all with some much needed perspective. From the National Review (a republican right leaning publication defending a democrat it’s worth noting) “Every time the definition of rape, abuse, or molestation is brought down another notch and this new low-water mark is agreed on across the political spectrum, the prospect for a different type of harm increases. If we agree for short-term political pleasure that Franken is guilty of serious sexual molestation for an unfunny photograph taken years ago and for a sloppy and unwanted pass at a woman, then two things are certain to happen. The first is that the difference between bad manners and rape will become blurred yet further…Second, this opportunistic process risks embedding the now-prevailing narrative of third-wave feminism, which is that men are all rapists or proto-rapists and that women in our society tread a constant and violent minefield their entire lives when dealing with the male sex… There are many reasons to be mad at Al Franken. But it doesn’t seem wise to allow irritation at him to help fuel a movement intent on making our society madder still.” The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, “Yet a perplexing aspect of the current debate involves the question of what should happen to those guilty of misbehavior and the tendency, common to revolutions, to overcorrect for past sins. If society once ignored sexual harassment — and we certainly did — one risk, now evident with the case of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), is overcompensating for earlier apathy… not all crimes deserve the death penalty. Not all bad behavior warrants expulsion, firing or resignation. The clamor for Franken’s head is, at best, premature — sentence first, trial (or Senate Ethics Committee investigation) later. At worst, it is alarmingly extreme…Yet I recoil at the employment equivalent of a mass death sentence for all sexual harassers…Must they remain forever pariahs? Is rehabilitation possible? The focus is, and should be, on victims. But as employers engage in an overdue reckoning on how to rid workplaces of intolerable conduct, they — we — are going to have to wrestle as well with how to treat the victimizers.” The New York Times’ Michelle Goldberg, “Personally, I’m torn by competing impulses. I want to see sexual harassment finally taken seriously but fear participating in a sex panic. My instinct is often to defend men I like, but I don’t want to be an enabler or a sucker… Adding to the confusion is the way so many different behaviors are being lumped together. Weinstein’s sadistic serial predation isn’t comparable to Louis C.K.’s exhibitionism. The groping Franken has been accused of isn’t in the same moral universe as Moore’s alleged sexual abuse of minors. It seems perverse that Franken could be on his way out of the Senate while Moore might be on his way in.” Ms. Marcus after Al Franken’s resignation, “There’s no doubt, in the case of Al Franken, that Democrats are better off with the Minnesota senator gone. There’s more doubt about whether justice was done. The political calculus is simple: Franken had to go. With the grotesque picture of him groping, or pretending to grope, the breasts of a fellow USO performer, he would have been a nonstop distraction, muddling Democrats’ case against alleged groper President Trump and alleged child molester Roy Moore. Franken paid not only for their sins but also for the alleged behavior of Bill Clinton two decades ago. Democrats underreacted then and consequently were impelled to overreact now.”
So let’s take Senator Al Franken, yes we all know about the hands-y photo showing him mock grabbing a woman’s breast through her flak jacket when both were performing at a USO tour, she asleep on the plane, yes we heard about the forceful kiss done under the guise of rehearsal for a comedy skit, more importantly the victim’s reaction to it creating a harmful impact. We read or hear summarized the decades old 1980’s Saturday Night Live dark humor joke involving the mock sexual assault of prominent TV newsperson Lesley Stahl; forget the joke never aired, forget the plausible possibility Franken’s attitude toward women evolved from those decades like droves of men along with him. Evidence for such evolution the legislation he pushed to protect women while in congress cosponsoring the reauthorization and strengthening of the violence against women act circa 2012, putting forth a bill in 2015 making it easier for women who are victims of workplace harassment to pursue justice; does that sound like a serial sexual harasser, does that sound like a typical man from a bygone era who doesn’t get it? True he could be pulling a Patrick Meehan who championed against domestic violence only to get gooey eyed for one of his staffers and commit sexual harassment, though the key there seems to have been his infatuation with the girl; he could be worse, pulling a Dennis Hastert of sorts against LGBT rights, pushing the defense of marriage act knowing full well what he’d done to teen boys when he was a high school teacher and wrestling coach, using his legislative record as a cover, or it could be exactly what he said it was, a bad picture of a joke and a bad joke respectively. Then we started hearing from women alleging they had their behinds grabbed during photo-ops with him totaling 8 such women including Tina Dupuy who stated she believed the first woman to come forward publically about body part grabbing because he’d done the same to her; upset he grabbed her waist during said photo and how she doesn’t even allow her husband (whom she recently married) to touch her that way in public because it diminishes who she is as a female professional. Except Cenk Uygur, male or not, his theories on right wing involvement and what Roger Stone said about it being the senator’s time in the barrel (identical to what he said of John Podesta just prior to his hacked emails being made public) before Franken allegations broke, Stone’s dubious history aside, is right; grabbing someone’s waist is not a thing (under the crimes of sexual harassment, assault, abuse or rape, even under the standard definition of physical assault, standards of socially acceptable behavior), in the process of taking a picture no less. If you have some personal issue with being touched, honestly think you were violated, feel traumatized that’s your problem and you probably need to see a counselor. Here is where women get the derogatory nickname feme-Nazi, when they attach inflated importance to things reminiscent of the above, call things female discrimination, oppression that really aren’t, repeatedly calling things abuse, harassment, groping that obviously aren’t (like all the cases to be discussed in this article) rather that are normal human, socially acceptable forms of touching based on the context of what you’re doing, i.e. posing for a photo. Certainly we understand, better than years before, conditions like autism rendering interaction with people fraught with anxiety, tears and utter meltdowns, iconic traditions memorable family photos with Santa almost an impossibility sans tailored experiences for children with it and similar disorders; we understand staggering percentages of abuse leading to sections of the population who shy away from, are made uncomfortable by, despise touch. However, if that describes you, why are you volunteering to take pictures with anyone and why are you singling out Al Franken; because, if you are this sensitive to touch, surely he isn’t the only person to have committed that kind of misstep with you, his wasn’t the only time photos have made you uncomfortable. But we aren’t hearing your story as a human interest piece, a journey to your diagnosis with autism in adulthood explaining your life long confusion, extreme aversion to touch and other partially debilitating, lifestyle diminishing quirks, we aren’t reading about your journey through therapy to get over your aversion and be a fully actualized human being, the emergence of a new disorder come from distracted parenting, everyone on their device and very little face to face, in person communication; we are hearing about your story adding to the chorus of women accusing Al Franken of sexual harassment, your felt kinship, solidarity with them because of what happened to you. Next what she said about how her husband isn’t allowed to touch her around people (interesting she found someone willing to marry her under those conditions) is exceedingly telling regarding her distorted perception, not Franken’s nor the general public’s; because, no there is no diminishment of her in her professional capacity by virtue of permitting her husband to touch her waist. Just so we’re picturing this in the casual ways it happens, putting his arm around her as they take pair/couple photographs with others, walking in or out of events, a hello shared between married persons if he arrives late to an event or joins her somewhere as she speaks with mutual friends exc.; printed indications she thinks there is should have readers, story analysts asking questions reaching well beyond what political agenda she may or may not be running. I’ve talked likely too much, even in this series, about how fortunate I am to have never been sexually harassed, described briefly other situations, my discomfiture related to them and internal conflict about what steps to take; one of the reasons I decided against going to my high school principal, college evening campus dean and discussing any of it is because I didn’t want to make more of it than there was to be made. While I felt they were guilty of a different kind of unprofessionalism, creating a negative learning environment the antithesis of what any education let alone college should be, had I spoken out I would have made abundantly clear what I wasn’t accusing them of; even alone in that room with my 6 foot intimidating history of the English language teacher standing in a way that trapped me between the table and the wall reprimanding me for attacking something a fellow student said (which I wasn’t rather things in the textbook) I never would have thought there was any sexual connotation behind it merely unawareness. I ultimately didn’t speak out because I didn’t want to garner a reputation as the person always crying wolf and whining the way we accuse college student social justice warriors of doing today before that was a thing; I didn’t want to be that type of person and I hope now their interactions with me left a lasting impression on them pertaining to better reading people, noting discomfort and backing off when they see it, changing tactics as necessary. Yes would it have been better if Franken had asked permission, if it was alright to put his arm around women during photo-ops, checked in with husbands, boyfriends, significant others if present, as another politician Ms. Menz (another of Franken’s accusers) referenced did sure; is there a seriously legitimate argument going forward to start adopting at least the first half of those described actions, checking with the person, alerting them to what you intend to do in deference to the growing number of children diagnosed with autism, current emerging adults with autism who have to navigate the world, aforementioned percentages of abused persons who find normal things triggering due to their justifiably called traumatic experience, of course. Yet there’s also assessing reasonable expectations, fact that Al Franken had no practical way of knowing that, none of these people he dealt with now describing allegations report being autistic or abused, specifically asking not to be touched during the photo if that was their choice, wish; different way of looking at it in terms of checking in with a husband or boyfriend before a 30 second photo, what does it say about men or your relationship he’s prone to becoming that jealous, is that insecure he needs to be consulted before taking a photo his partner wants? Precursor, red flag warning to domestic violence if we ever saw one; too Mrs. Dupuy might want to rethink her stance on how she allows her husband to touch her in public as Joe Scarborough mentions where precisely he puts his hand on fiancé Mika Brzezinski’s lower waist specifically to prevent moves like those Franken is said to have put on women. Unquestionable if he did grab these women’s buttocks during a photo-op, did what Lindsay Menz, who subsequently spoke out in an interview said he did when she ran a booth for a local fair; it seems he found a clever way to use photo-ops to be sexually inappropriate with women. If he willfully and knowingly fondled Stephanie Kemplin, as she told CNN, the second woman who stated it happened on a USO tour’s, breast while taking a picture, moreover saw she was uncomfortable and continued doing so, by all means force him to resign, commence with hitherto public shaming, hold him up as an example of what will no longer be tolerated. The problem is we don’t know espousing any definitive certainty what he did or didn’t do; all members of the ordinary public have to go on is the initial picture where, it must be pointed out, he wasn’t touching her breasts even atop the flak jacket hovering over but not touching remembering he is a comedian, originally thought it was funny, meant it to be funny. A bad joke left on the editing room floor during one of his comedic jobs, comedy consulting gigs and, a handful though it is, of dubious claims of butt grabbing, plus a patent over reaction to being touched at the waist as a picture was taken; readers, news watchers expected to come to their own judgement, conclusion don’t know if they are all overreacting. CNN’s obtained photo depicting Franken and Kemplin shows his arm around her back to rest his hand on her opposite arm in a side hug situation, what the host called touching her side roughly at her waist; scrutinizing Americans don’t know if they should be criticizing Kemplin for her feeling like yet another over blown exaggeration of an innocuous interaction from one more person who ludicrously didn’t expect to be touched period, anticipate minimal physical contact as a photo was snapped. Or calling out CNN for airing that photo as an example of what happened when it’s not because there was no visual representation of what Kemplin asserts did happen, but insisted on using it regardless. Either way, caution, here again is where citizens start talking about political correctness run amuck; the things you can’t do lest someone misinterpret kindness, compassion, general affection for their fellow human beings, read way farther into something than ever intended. A YouTube commenter on the CNN breaking of Kemplin’s encounter distilled it perfectly, “Wow … this is the weakest accusation yet. What next? “He brushed against my ass while passing me on the escalator…” Extremely valid question, living in the post #metoo era is every case of bumping into someone, spilling drink or food on someone (being a person with a disability and working hard to avoid the following), tripping, losing your balance and grabbing onto anything available to break or prevent your fall, even a human being say ahead of you in line, trying to prevent the fall of someone you bumped into, by yes touching them, going to be treated as intentional and sexually motivated, orchestrated sexually motivated groping, fondling, misdemeanor sexual assault? Also a valid segment of Franken’s tale, though story followers possess their names adding Leeann Tweeden’s to the list from the first accusation, approximately half the women accusing him have remained anonymous; senator absolutely correct articulating the difficulty in defending yourself when you don’t know who precisely your accuser is, he categorically denied one anonymously claimed scenario as something that plainly didn’t happen, a purported suggestion he and the victim go to the bathroom together presumably to engage in some form of sex act, heavy petting or kissing. Likewise he categorically denied a second anonymous claim from when he worked for/with Air America radio, another attempted sloppy, wet, forced kiss and this time the added element of claiming it was his right as an entertainer; accusations he called preposterous, myself as one reader inclined to agree. Either Time did a bad write up, or it reads like someone was cribbing notes from a Harvey Weinstein story and simply replaced his with Franken’s name, though why remains a mystery. We were paying less attention when he said he welcomed a congressional ethics committee investigation, an investigation that never happened because his fellow democratic senator women colleagues chose political expedience and positive optics over justice, over ever discovering if Al Franken did anything other than tell a horrible joke, take a tasteless picture and make a sloppy pass at a women to borrow from the quotes in paragraph 1, aptly categorized bad manners. Missing an investigation, hearing testimony we don’t get to hear additional asked questions of him or his accusers to assess the validity of the ‘let’s go to the bathroom together’ request, the my right as an entertainer boast. We have no examination of the potential underlying agendas that might be in play, if there is anything to the fact Ms. Tweeden does work for a right wing radio show in regards to timing if nothing else, how Roger Stone obtained his information related to the Franken story before it was released to the media; weighing any mental health factors that may be effecting particularly Ms. Dupuy’s account, trying to understand her views on where a man as intimate as your husband shouldn’t touch you in public, in an area as benign as your waist, since it doesn’t comport with the norms of American society totally absent our abysmal history on sexual harassment, assault and rape, surpasses beyond the pale of where #metoo wants society to go. The very real possibility she believes every word of her account, feels mistreated but that’s a manifestation of past trauma long preceding her ever meeting Franken, as alluded to above an undiagnosed psychological or neurological disorder most importantly Mr. Franken cannot be and should not be held responsible for. What we do have, contrasted against the bomb shell, out of the blue allegations, (comprehending stories about Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer and to an extent Kevin Spacey, even Charlie Rose were on some level merely finally confirming long held rumors and whispers throughout Hollywood and television morning/political shows) is a statement by the entire female cast at SNL when he worked there saying he treated them with nothing but professionalism and respect. We do have hundreds to thousands of photos taken over the years weighed beside the 8 women to come forward, those choosing anonymity while still telling their story, but we are supposed to readily believe Franken a serial butt grabber versus multiple dozen women accusing Cosby and Weinstein of far worse, the double digit member of women to accuse our own commander in chief of varying forms of sexual assault all the way up to the act of rape. Not only is it conflating a range of behaviors that should be treated in a graduated fashion, punishments commiserate with both the act, any pattern to be discerned, signs or absence of predation over honest pursuit of consensual relationships and the stated impact had on the victim, harsher consequences doled out to those who left women a psychological, emotional wreck; it makes it harder to see and craft proportional responses both as women/citizens in society trying to get by, good people seeking relationships or employers trying to balance opportunity equality for female workers, safety for female employees and consensual interoffice romance, room for misinterpretations, misunderstandings that don’t unjustly cost someone their livelihood. He shocked nearly everyone echoing timely words in his senate floor resignation speech saying essentially some had taken a sincere apology for a stupid picture snapped as a tasteless joke freely acknowledging it was wrong and unknowing making women feel bad, for an admission of guilt to other things, to the whole of accusations against him— it was not. Warned us we were losing the war for truth while telling us what it was, an apology for the lesser things done as well as sincere regret his, meant to be benign, actions made another human being feel so horribly. It harkens back to what Indie Music’s edgy voice of reason said comparing Stephen Collins and Bill Cosby when their stories both came out, which one do you want loose in society, imagine poses less of a threat to citizenry, think should be offered a chance back in society, Collins who did something terrible to a teen girl centered around inappropriate touching, realized immediately he had a problem and made a b-line for therapy and help, or Bill Cosby who set around himself a legion of people and a system to cover up his actions, pay off the abused, manage what the world thought his reputation was with the added element of repeatedly drugging victims absent their knowledge, plying struggling addicts with pills/booze, denying everything for years, more serious charges once made public? Who is aggressively hiding things parallel to Cosby, Harvey Weinstein caught on tape nervous one of his victims confronted him, the army of ex-military, Special Forces, elite investigators literally spanning the globe hired to keep his secrets, discredit his victims, dig up character dirt on his victims to avoid lawsuits, criminal charges, or Al Franken asking for an investigation. Who do we think deserved an opportunity to defend their job if not outright keep it Al Franken who admitted to what he knew he had done and profusely apologized, simultaneously refuting things he knows he’s never done and telling the unabashed truth he can’t adequately confirm, deny or defend himself from anonymous claims, acknowledging how many pictures he takes in a calendar year and the sane fact he can’t remember them all? Or fellow congresspersons in trouble like Blake Farenhold, Trent Franks the former of whom shows zero inclination to change his sexually harassing subordinates behavior, the latter who had a flimsy story regarding talking to the staffer about surrogacy for him and his wife to have another child (compartmentalizing its inappropriate talk for the office) when what he actually did was randomly proposition her for sex so she could father his child? Who deserved resignation more, Al Franken or Tim Murphey who was expelled from congress and his party for his long record of anti-abortion rhetoric, stances only to be discovered in text messages pressuring his mistress to have an abortion; the now indictment of Missouri governor Eric Greitens involved in essentially a revenge porn plot in order to cover up his extramarital affair where he tied up his mistress in his basement and took a semi-nude photo of her sans consent for blackmail purposes, all carrying an underlying theme the degradation and irrefutable mistreatment of women if not outright harassment, abuse or assault. Ask yourself who was less cagey in their apology, less doing it as a PR stunt and more expressing genuine regret Al Franken, coming from a place of disbelief his actions made women feel so bad or Matt Lauer who refuted some accusations but was never specific in detailing which ones were untrue, made it more about himself than the women he hurt; Kevin Spacey who when confronted with his sexually seducing actions toward then 14 year old actor Anthony Rapp hid behind revealing his bisexual relationship history/homosexuality as some kind of explanation/excuse for sexual advances toward an underage teen. Thinking it somehow nullified his reported non-consensual behavior, independent ages of consent, the reality Rapp among others wanted nothing to do with what Spacey had in mind, tried to force upon them. Ponder who, even if everything stated about Al Franken was indeed proven 100% true, an impossible standard to achieve factoring the hearsay nature of subject matter that is without witnesses, how much hinges on the credibility of accusers, deserves a second chance, a shot at redemption, an opportunity to demonstrate they are a changed person Al Franken or any of the other prominently accused #metoo known names whose stories garnered repeated traction? As Franken mentioned in his resignation speech, the irony he was leaving, being forced out, could no longer be effective to his voters, constituency still Donald Trump found on tape admitting to sexual assault, forcibly kissing women without permission, grabbing them by their genitalia, was seated in the oval office no concerted effort to subject him to the investigation Franken says he would have willing submitted to openly welcomed. Nashville’s mayor out as much for being a women who had a freely admitted to extramarital affair with a member of her security detail as she is for the money shenanigans related to it; op-ed writers who drew the paralleled between Franken’s departure and Roy Moore’s almost ushering in.
Charlie Rose is another instance of ambiguity, as discussed throughout part 2 in addition to at least one incident cataloged by journalistic endeavors encompassing Rose in a cab touching a woman in a way she was uncomfortable with, but prior to the allegations, he believed was consensual, escalated MO stating he would then ratchet it up to more groping or the “shower trick” as one male producer dubbed it when told what Rose had purportedly done to an assistant aiding in his work from home ventures. There are several similar accounts of him sauntering though is home or hotel room sporting poorly closed bathrobes, Rose only in a towel walking naked while assistants were also there doing some aspect of work initially in another room, wing of the house. To increasingly serious allegations of trying to put his hands down one perspective assistant’s pants leaving her sobbing through the encounter, a ‘organize my stuff and stay in my guestroom while doing so’ gig that encompassed the following, “Late one night, [Reah] Bravo said, Rose returned home after a night out. She said she tried to hurry out of the library in the guesthouse to return to her bedroom in the main house before Rose came in, but he intercepted her. She said he insisted that they have a glass of wine at the dining room table in the main house. Then, he suggested they walk out to his dock and look at the moon Bravo said. Once there, “he came up from behind me and he put his arms around me,” she said, remembering that she felt a mix of apprehension and confusion. “It reflected his poor judgment. How could a man of his stature and his power be doing something so inappropriate? . . . It seemed reckless. Caught off guard, she said she did not know how to respond and endured his embrace…” Another assistant who describes an over the top job interview hands down her pants, they ended up in his bed, job offer rescinded after a negative reaction to his come-ons, thus; “That evening, after stopping for dinner and getting lost, they arrived at the house after midnight. She did not see anyone else there. Rose proposed she choose a DVD of his show that they could watch together. After the show, Rose gave her a tour of the property. The guesthouse, she noticed, was packed with clutter, uninhabitable. At the pool, Rose dangled his legs in the water and then said that he needed to change because his pant legs were wet. He returned wearing a white bathrobe, which was open; he wore nothing underneath. “I thought, I’m doomed,” she said. “I was completely panicked. In retrospect, I thought of a million things I could have done.” She said she was not intoxicated — Rose had drunk his wine and then hers at the restaurant — but said he appeared to be. It was nearly 2 a.m. and she was exhausted, she said. She also said she felt alone and powerless. It was the middle of the night, they were on his secluded property, and she did not know how to drive. “I started talking in this feeble and compulsive way,” she said. “I started talking about power, how the abuse of power can be. He completely lost it. ‘What are you talking about? That’s certainly not the case.’” She said he then tried to put a hand down her pants. “By the time he touched me the first time, he was already very angry,” she said. “I was scared, and I was also kind of frozen.” After that, her memory is “hazy,” she said. They ended up in his bedroom. “I really, honestly, I’ve tried so hard, especially recently, since I’ve been thinking about this, to try to remember what happened between sitting by the pool and being in his bed,” she said. “I have no recollection of how we went from here to there. I do remember I was crying the entire time.” He reached down her pants again, she said, and she pushed his hands away. As she wept, she said, Rose asked her, “Baby, oh baby, why are you crying?” The encounter ended when he appeared to be asleep and she felt she could leave the room, she said. The next day, she said there was little mention of what had happened. She described the previous night to him “as a bit of a disaster” and he said, “What do you mean?” A few days later, she followed up about the job. In retrospect, she said, “Remaining silent allowed me to continue denying what had occurred. It was in that state of denial that I wrote to him asking about the job.” He replied with his regrets. “The whole thing was really the most humiliating and most degrading experience I’ve ever had,” the woman says now. A friend she confided in at the time described her as having been “distraught” in recounting what happened. “To have been used in the way she was left her feeling really confused and really distressed,” the friend told The Post.” Accusations lending credence to one assistant who asserts she was also fired after rebuffing his advances, daring to tell friends about what was happening at work; unequivocally if he did put his hands down a potential assistant’s pants, grabbed the anonymous woman’s butt at a TV event, groped the breast and stomach of another while driving him (a frequent task for his assistants) fired one and retracted that job offer because they didn’t respond favorably to his concept of romance, frequently became angry and grabbed an assistant by her hair, holding a fist of it at the base of her scalp repeatedly known to grip her head tightly while talking to her, holding it so tightly that she couldn’t turn her neck in any direction forced to look directly at him or to let him talk directly into her ear; he deserves to be fired, talked about and chronicled in the #metoo hall of shame. But if Kyle Kulinski, for all the things this author has called him out on, disagreed with his stated position about, he’s clearly no defender of rapists, sex assaulters, sexual abusers, got through 20% of the article wondering if Rose was merely weird and awkward, reaching 50% and the whole article before ascertaining yes, something wrong did occur; might we also conclude Charlie Rose was just as confused? Perhaps that likewise explains CBS producer Yvette Vega’s common response oh that’s Charlie being Charlie, the other male boss who commented about the complaining employee getting the shower treatment; because, they knew it was intended, possibly even framed by given accounts as harmless flirting (knowing she never heard about the poolside molestation until after it was made public in the Post)? Was the implication of her comment, the stock ticker type message playing in the back of her head ‘he’s flirting with you tell him to stop and he will;’ especially since the employee was reporting his late night phone calls talking about his fantasies of her swimming naked in the pool at one of his homes, forging why your picking up your phone knowing it’s him that late at night if you’re repulsed by the calls, why you didn’t ignore the calls after it happened a time or 2, set a routine for office, working hours, momentarily. Prior employees’ descriptions detailing potentially inappropriate things Rose did on set, at the studio, in the actual work environment versus scenarios taking place in the PA, work at home sphere included unsolicited shoulder rubs given to women they dubbed “the crusty paw,” the revolving cadre of female assistants surrounding Rose nicknamed “Charlies Angels,” however these were nicknames used among employees it appears Rose had no knowledge of; their descriptions of unasked for shoulder rubs begs the question are we so unused to kindness, so unfamiliar with touch in a non-sexual way we don’t know it when we see it, is this how we’re conditioned to respond to what could well have been basic platonic affection, attempts to ease stress or tension, be nice? Multiple women depicted Rose’s touching of their leg or upper thigh as testing to gauge reaction, yes testing them in terms of the nonverbal variation on are you interested; now there is ample argument to say that’s not the best way to go about it, try talking to the woman first, actually asking them if they want to go on a date, want to attempt a romantic relationship, are attracted to him, but again we must be very careful assigning over significance to certain aspects of these stories when there remains plenty of red flags to discuss, mischaracterizing actions as predatory that had not reached said level yet. The Washington Post’s own interviews with former employees turned up numbers like this, “Six said they saw what they considered to be harassment, eight said they were uncomfortable with Rose’s treatment of female employees, and 10 said they did not see or hear anything concerning.” Noting the number of people who say they saw nothing on the repeatedly remarked upon small crew at the Charlie Rose Show employing no more than 15 workers at any given time outnumber the 8 who witnessed what they characterized harassment and the 6 left uncomfortable meaning 14 out of the 2 dozen interviewed for their opinion on the working environment resulting in slightly over half who saw or felt problems and half who didn’t. Earlier in the article comes testimonial from a woman who told them, “He was always professional with me,” said Eleonore Marchand Mueller, a former assistant of Rose’s who worked for him from 2003 to 2005. “I never witnessed any unprofessional incidents;” unclear if she was part of the original 2 dozen asked for comment, their assessment or not. To her assertion, it could be like all people seeking relationships be it friends or romance they have a type and she wasn’t it; more sinisterly, weighing common knowledge of sexual criminals, sexual predators exclusively, sexual harassers, rapists to pedophiles, those who have very specific types and her along with all those who experienced nothing untoward at Rose’s hands simply weren’t his type. Even elaborating on the one victim described by video news outlets having talked about a lewd comment made to her while touching her inappropriately at a television event; where part 2 asked ok what was the comment, touching her inappropriately how/where, why ask, because from a certain perspective and with no more detail than some have given what he’s been fired for doing could be considered flirting, turns out was a purported butt grab at an office party, previous paragraph teaching us the perils of not taking such stories with a grain of salt. Why this author suggested during the previous installment sexual harassment and sensitively training seminars, sessions be interactive; because, unlike the disingenuousness oozing off the words when people like Harvey Weinstein referencing the different decade, hippie, free love, 60’s timeframe they grew up in, were teen, 20 something youths in where the rules of sex were different, there is a disturbingly genuine quality to both his and Franken’s reactions to their accusers, utter cluelessness. Not the Donald Trump variety where he has treated women as little other than pieces of meat, demonstrated to regularly abuse and discard women with no regard for the lasting impact he left them with, but the variety leaving them completely blindsided. On one hand we are appalled when young men commit rape under the law, think if they were raised properly and our culture wasn’t so sexually obsessed utterly sexually saturated with suggestive to fully erotic images deliberately generated in order to sell almost everything from hamburgers to clothes to insurance, sexual assault harassment, abuse and rape wouldn’t be as prevalent. Mindsets reached without ever concluding we want young men not to rape sans ever giving them the full picture of what that means, what it looks like that matches up with the most important aspect, the law. By that same token, we want older men to have cottoned on to the new way of doing things, what’s no longer allowed under the current decade of feminism, workplace behavior norms, social shifts without ever giving them a means to gather that information, holding the training, seminars in a way that makes it clear. Gretchen Carlson was surprised Rose thought it was consensual, I’m not, she shouldn’t be, we society shouldn’t be considering the above points laid out; she too conflates, in her Nightline commentary, the ‘locker room talk’ Roger Ailes and Donald Trump’s behavior was dwindled down to, to what Rose is said to have done. His response was he believed he was perusing shared feelings and now realizes he was not, totally different than Ailes, Trump’s, Weinstein’s or fellow morning show anchor Matt Lauer’s responses, forget Bill Cosby’, Kevin Spacey’s, Brett Ratner’s; supporting the idea Charlie Rose is above all else bad with the ladies, totally sexually awkward and inept is this extended except from Ms. Bravo’s story: “A day or two later, Bravo said, Rose drove her back to Manhattan. She said he began to tell her that he felt very alone in life, despite his wealth and success. He recalled a brush with death a year earlier during heart surgery in Paris and began to tear up, and she said she patted him on the shoulder to console him. “I didn’t necessarily buy it,” she said. “I thought, ‘I’ll keep my distance and I feel sorry for him.’ But I didn’t think of him as a predator at that time.” It reads as a lonely, pathetic old man with no one in his life seeking a relationship no sex or power, the latter being Ms. Carlson’s blanket reason for why men do these things to women; which might well have been true 100% with Roger Ailes and Donald Trump, oozes from Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, not necessarily with Rose who asked that assistant oh baby why are you crying. A question seeming obvious to readers, but wasn’t to him; returning one final time to Reah Bravo things escalated from there to more trips and disconcerting interactions culminating in quote: Later, flying on a small private plane alone with Rose, she said he requested that they watch a documentary about Algeria on a portable DVD player. Suddenly, she said, Rose got out of his seat and pressed his body onto hers. “I felt at a loss. I mean, what am I going to do? We were how many feet up in the air?” she said, adding that they remained clothed. “I remember him being on top of me.” Yet is it inconceivable for Rose to have though by that time they had crossed the line from100 % professional to semi-romantic knowing in the course of her work at Rose’s home she had, accidentally on her part, seen him showering and he asked her about it; is that too what he thought with the poolside scene and his potential assistant her, reading the full account, having interviewed for a job in 2009 to be contacted again in 2010 resulting in her Post published retelling of that night? Questions posed, analytics presented not to give Charlie Rose a pass, not to excuse his behavior but to differentiate between predation and awkward flirting he had no idea was making these women feel this way, exposing a critical point to the human condition, we aren’t mind readers any of us, if you don’t say something, do something, give indications as to what you are thinking and feeling we can’t guess; if they didn’t do any of those things how was he supposed to know it wasn’t consensual or simply flirting, he gets the message it’s a no go and backed off? A prime example of why we need to teach our girls, young women to stand up for themselves; thoughts echoed by former Texas state senator Wendy Davis who chastised women not to be so nice, in the wake of the latest R Kelly possible sex cult allegation of keeping a young woman against her will advocates who say to stop abuse across the board we have to teach girls not to be nice. The girl scouts even getting involved advising parents over the winter holidays not to force their girls, any of their children really into hugging not seen in a long time relatives they barely know, don’t remember instilling in them the fundamental concepts of body autonomy and consent that will serve them later. Charlie Rose is a lesson in 9 kinds of cautionary tale, most glaringly the paramount must of having an HR department, having a known HR process for small businesses, productions given to employees upon hire and reviewed often so people who feel something’s wrong have a clearly outline course of action; an investigative body that can look into allegations, situations and render suggestions up to firing or turning findings over to formal law enforcement. Opposite a Shakespearian comedy of errors instead Charlie Rose is a tragedy of errors, errors in communication a man seeking a romance, a relationship, a connection and women who are afraid to speak up, afraid to say no, afraid to assert boundaries; why the just listed initiatives and more are vitally important, so they are never afraid to say things like stop rubbing my shoulders your 100 years old, afraid to say I don’t like the sexually charged phone calls and your fantasies creep my out, I’m here for a job and nothing else, here are the hours I’ll work, these are standard office hours don’t call me otherwise, I know this is your house/hotel room, but if you expect me to work here organizing your [insert items/area here] please keep your clothes on and your bathrobe tied. Too people look at the stories of these women ‘lured’ to his homes, summoned to his hotel room under ‘false pretenses’ as if individuals wanting to talk to a girl/woman, ask a girl/woman out, simply be alone with a girl/woman, have a conversation and see where things lead has never concurrently asked them to meet somewhere, help them with something for that purpose; not only is it the major plot of every teen/tween show on Disney Channel, the quintessential plot of every romantic comedy ever written, book or put to film/TV but is a fixture in the stories told around holiday dinner tables and when regaling others of how key family members got together. People are wide eyed shocked a man continued to interact with a woman on a trying for romance level, in an effort to persuade her to give him the time of day, view him with something other than contempt working up to getting her to go out with him never connecting it’s the story of their parents or grandparents, friends parents, actions their friends take seeking their romantic interest, cue requisite eye roll. Absolutely he’s wildly misinterpreting what’s happening 1,000% and in no way does it diminish the devastating effect it had on these would be assistants who just wanted to work in the apex of journalism, who idolized Rose and the role he played in the industry; it does though provide a blueprint for America’s burning question surrounding #metoo, what exactly to do with the myriad of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and abuse cases that do not reach to full on rape, prosecutable offenses under the legal code. Get them help, therapies using the interactive techniques already mentioned to teach them what sexual harassment, sexually inappropriate looks like in the context of their job, their position of power so they know and aren’t left guessing; with Rose it potentially goes deeper into aspects of mental health and neurological function possibly connected to his advancing age, if the women’s depiction of his volatile temper is anywhere close to accurate. Behavior described as alternating between fury and flattery in his interactions with female staff, to suddenly begin yelling at them, calling them stupid and incompetent, pathetic, attacking various assistants repeatedly in front of other people, as reiterated and recalled by former higher ranking staff; telling one, because she hadn’t gotten a college degree she would never amount to anything better than his secretary. Still after the bouts of rage, Godfrey-Ryan (who bore the brunt of such verbal abuse) said, Rose would often be conciliatory. Coupled with the neck grabbing incident sounds an awful lot like someone suffering from undiagnosed, untreated bi-polar disorder, the beginnings of neurological changes related to cognitive decline, dementia, if not Alzheimer’s proper. Factoring in his age, the mental health stigmas permeating America in his prime and it isn’t too far a stretch to say it could be either one; a red flag for things we may need to be on the lookout for in early dementia patients. Further Franken and Rose are exactly the persons who can benefit from therapy, interactive harassment and sensitivity training updating them on the definition of sexual harassment, the newer boundaries of the workplace; steps taken if we want to rehabilitate men, forge a better society. Which should be the ultimate goal, not just endless shamming and excommunication, but like other aspects of American criminal justice our compulsion to punish overrides our pursuit of treatment, fixing known ailments on a psycho or social level. In truth Charlie Rose and Al Franken are victims of a culture who can’t educate its people beyond academics, can’t master disseminating life skills updated public service announcements and community workshops on these very issues.
Aziz Ansari has to be the worst would be #metoo casualty out there; who knew going on a date with a woman could backfire so spectacularly, especially where willing sex was involved. Absurd as it sounds that’s where Ansari found himself post a date with a woman where she engaged in reluctant sex, yes but went along with all their activities all the same, eventually forcing his accuser to admit everything that did happen that night was consensual. Even apologizing to her, that it was via text message may seem off-putting to last generation fuddy-duddies unfamiliar with both technology and how people use it (millennials prone to ending relationships via tweet) but it merely stems from that’s how she contacted him to discuss his behavior the previous night. Her allegations are, that they too quickly left a restaurant post what was supposed to be a romantic meal, landed at his apartment where he turns a compliment about countertops into an invitation then immediately began putting the moves on her resulting in him giving her lack luster, unsatisfying oral sex and when asking her how she wanted him to fuck her (her words) she doesn’t know how to answer the question because she really didn’t want to do so at all, but rather than say this implicitly she kept giving off inarticulate, ambiguous verbal and non-verbal cues to communicate her discomfort. Mainly by pulling away, confused he A- used bad lines to convince her to have sex, “I wasn’t really even thinking of that, I didn’t want to be engaged in that with him. But he kept asking, so I said, ‘Next time.’ And he goes, ‘Oh, you mean second date?’ and I go, ‘Oh, yeah, sure,’ and he goes, ‘Well, if I poured you another glass of wine now, would it count as our second date?’ He then poured her a glass and handed it to her. She excused herself to the bathroom soon after.” B- he continued to what he would most certainly call entice her to change her mind, float different sexual activities they could try she might be comfortable with, including suggesting she reciprocate oral sex on him which she did though she felt extremely pressured thinking their conversation when she came out of the bathroom about not wanting to feel forced and hate him for that reason and his response they were just having fun, agreement they ‘chill’ on the couch her sitting on the floor him on the couch, meant that wouldn’t happen envisioning him playing with her hair, rubbing her back attempting to calm/ relax her instead. What follows is several rounds of making out, mixed signals, aggressive kisses and one more ask about where she would like to be fucked happening in front of a mirror where she finally sets down a firm no to any actual intercourse to which he most importantly stops and next offers the idea of, not unceremoniously throwing her out the door like a typical male chauvinistic guy but ‘chilling’ on the bed clothes on, him flipping on Seinfeld and her coming to the realization she had been violated (again her word) going back to where she left her phone tolerating more aggressive kisses and lame comments before he finally called her a car. Anyone else confused about why this story is being portrayed the way it is; it would have been one thing if the article had been titled ‘sidebar to metoo how to make men better daters’ instead it was titled ‘I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life’ automatically defaulting it to #metoo category of harrowing sex assault, rape and abuse tales we’ve had no shortage of in the past year. But it stands out starkly for more reasons than those Vox highlighted while attempting to explain the controversy surrounding his story, the strong opinions on both sides those who think he belongs grouped with the incidents #metoo is dually working to expose and prevent and those who vehemently believe he doesn’t. Surpassing Ansari’s story not being about inappropriate behavior at work, blurred boundaries on the job, nuances of unconventional worksites and the power dynamic of boss subordinate relationships, known figure, assistant interactions, depicting instead a date; superseding Babe Magazine’s unorthodox, called irresponsible methods of not looking into his past to ascertain if there was a pattern of the kind of behavior detailed by his accuser, not giving him the customary, standard full 24 hours to respond to the story they intended to print, stopping at a merger less than 6, interspersed opinions of the author when it was intended to be a purely journalistic account of this woman’s story and goes directly to how they framed the very story itself. Indeed leaving too many things open to far too many interpretations, making suppositions the bulk of them in bad faith; prime example, if the author under the umbrella of straight journalism, infused the piece with her opinion when judging ‘Grace’s’ (not the person’s real name) outfit to be good, look good on her, when the accuser says she’s now come to understand what Ansari did was sexual assault how are readers to know if that was her conclusion or the writers? True Samantha Bee was right to call out Ansari for his behavior after writing a book as she puts it on ‘how to sex good’ (missing or ignoring many of the nuances, non-verbal cues he details in said book) comically pointing out his blatant hypocrisy; except blatant hypocrisy is the worst thing he is guilty of, proving perhaps he should utilize dating apps like hot or not for people actively seeking hook-ups, no strings attached sex, sex their main goal. Where Vox’s initial piece missed it, gets it flagrantly wrong is talking about intimidation he supposedly used to coerce her into sex drastically reaching comparing it to what was said about Louis C.K. cornering co-worker, employee subordinate women in order to masturbate in front of them when the power dynamics are nowhere near the same; being a date, somewhere you presumably want to be and are free to leave any time versus a job, somewhere you have to be, leaving can mean not only a loss of income but difficulty in securing employment afterwards. Moreover, Aziz Ansari is not a big, physically imposing or intimidating guy, built and bulky representing a physical threat; the recounting provides zero evidence hinting he became angry, remotely violent at her reluctance, undermining as well the analogy of getting across his apartment to leave being reminiscent of a football play should she earnestly try getting out the door, getting away from something she has such a problem with. Continuing not once does she mention being awed by his star status, reticently agreeing to going ahead with sex to impress him, remotely imply she had sex with him partly or solely because his name was Aziz Ansari or his name was Aziz Ansari and she held anxiety about would he blacklist her, smear her name publically if she did not; her account, if it is indeed 100% authentic and not overly manipulated by the writer, perhaps a big if but all we the public have to go on, indicates she would have felt just as pressured, intimidated if it were the cute guy she met in line at the grocery store signaling Grace’s problems, hang ups are all her own. Nor is there any suggestion housed in pushback to her story, as Salon titled articles shouted loudly against via print, we should, as women, stop talking about consent, as a society/culture silence them from telling their stories regardless if they are chronicling bad dates and are only vaguely adjacent to #metoo; as Bee artfully shot down, like only she can, sending the message anything below rape, not rape is ok. Rather contextualizing it properly, it’s about being cognizant of what you are putting out there, how it will be perceived, being crystal clear about the story you are telling and what you want to communicate to your culture, your society, the world; undeniable fact neither Babe Magazine nor Ansari’s date give one singular thought to they could be destroying a man’s career, livelihood, the way he makes money, puts a roof over his head and whatever he did you describe, he doesn’t deserve that. Now as Vox underscored in a separate piece saying yes Ansari’s story is ordinary and that’s exactly why we— society need to talk about it, his career hasn’t been ruined, yet they had no way of knowing their actions, their printed material would not; chief reason it hasn’t is because there doesn’t appear to be another story pegging him as sexual aggressive, bordering on a sexual assaulter, total opposite his feminist ally ‘woke man’ persona. In fact like several others before him, he has women coming to his defense, further calling into question what really happened that night, enticing readers who want to read Mr. Ansari’s account of his night with ‘Grace’ written in identically confessional style to see where the huge disconnect is. Where Vox’s highly criticized Ashleigh Banfield got it right was in her entire open letter statement when she said by your own clear description this was not a rape, nor was it a sexual assault, did not send you to the police, affect your workplace or ability to get a job; post asking exactly what the woman’s beef was recognized HLN host Banfield went on making sure viewers and Ansari’s accuser/bad date understood her position fully saying, if you were sexually assaulted you should go to police immediately, if your encounter with Ansari lead to sexual harassment interfering with your ability to do your job you should speak up loudly. But exempting those things, firstly reorienting perspective naming it an unpleasant experience from which she should have gone home, free to tell her friends to avoid him he’s gross, tell him to his face he’s gross, in no uncertain terms don’t go on a second date, don’t marry a man like that; shaming her going to the press and the potential damage done to the #metoo movement doing a lot of good against predators, making workplaces, Banfield herself has had to combat, safer. Secondary positive of her words, solidifying succinctly the defining crux of the #metoo movement: exposing and thus stopping abuse of power in the workplace where predominately men used sex to manipulate people, made enduring sexual harassment, propositions for sex, doling out sexual acts, sexual favors a prerequisite for predominately women obtaining jobs, receiving promotions, advancing their careers in any meaningful way; honing in on no shortage of instances where, when women wouldn’t give in to those demands sex was taken by force, either directly think Harvey Weinstein, or indirectly think Bill Cosby and the litany of drugs he employed while concurrently holding career prospects or his own status over their heads. That is the paramount goal of #metoo and why Grace’s story doesn’t belong there tied intricately to its mission rather in a subcategory reflected in all the pieces on how the Ansari scenario is different, represents the full circle conversations necessary to stop #metoo from being a permanent refrain over a catalyst for change. Where Ashleigh Banfield, Caitlin Flanagan and similar minded others are also 100% right is, sorry to tell you ‘Grace,’ you had a bad date encompassing bad sex, bad/awkward sex perpetuated by you because you didn’t hold firm to your boundaries; as the HLN anchor outlined you continued to engage in the sexual encounter, and by engage she wasn’t referring to simply your lingering presence in a situation you were uncomfortable with but did nothing to remove yourself from, but well after the unsatisfying oral sex he performed including fingering you, you went down on him, at 2 other junctures that night you let him make out with you then are surprised he says ‘doesn’t look like you hate me;’ beyond ‘women unable to call a cab,’ never mind a whole country’s worth, to quote Flanagan, beyond if you don’t like what is happening you can’t jump of that counter, call him the jerk you think he is, say he’s not the man/person you thought he was and leave, if you’re so uncomfortable you couldn’t refrain from going down on him, letting him make out with you? Independent who approached who to write the Babe article where Banfield ‘got it wrong,’ Ansari is a famous person, a known name so who can blame her, fellow journalists for thinking their might, might be an ulterior motive to his date gone horribly wrong’s publication, written revenge porn or not; part of the problem is absolutely less about time spent picking out outfits for nights they hope to fondly remember and more about both ideas of romance and dating gleaned from TV, harlequin romance novels, trope romantic comedy movies then coming to the shocked realization Aziz Ansari isn’t his television personality, is an actual person, a flawed, fallible imperfect human being with sexual needs like everyone else not some romance god people wrongly interpreted him to be to begin with. Pivoting back to Vox’s second piece, it’s how can men as Vox asserted push women’s boundaries when women don’t seem to know what their personal boundaries pertaining to sex are, never mind clearly define them for their partners, let alone saying the ensuing awkward badness is because ‘American culture’ tells them a lukewarm yes to sex is all they are going to get so they should dismiss a woman’s reluctance. Ignoring entirely a whole section of society’s women who only do give a lukewarm yes to sex even when they really want it due to ingrained puritanical mindsets around sex, hesitations on seeming too eager lest they be deemed a slut, worry about people finding out their accurate number of sexual partners for the same reason. Conveniently sidestepping playing hard to get is a thing long understood in the dating, flirting, sexually active world, as is actively trying to make the target of your affections jealous usually by dating someone else, someone the object of your desire hates; all the articles on sensitivity to partners in the wake of #metoo either are ignorant of or feign ignorance to online, fetishist groups, members who have rape fantasies, numerous kink, fetishes, BDSM popularized by 50 Shades of Gray. Goes without saying there are chasms of difference between consensual acts and non-consensual ones, the consensual gray areas bought to us by ‘Grace’ and how frequent they really are held up alongside the realization rape fantasy is misnamed and should be called roleplay, but it brings out those blurred lines we keep wondering why people are crossing. Leaving out drilling down to the paramount question what particularly was making her feel so pressured, intimidated, why she and so many women feel they must engage in resigned acceptance of sex as opposed to an enthusiastic yes when she was on a first date not in a committed relationship, a spousal situation where granted women shouldn’t be made to feel like that way either but are more complex, because you don’t want to lose them, there is a history there, you are their committed partner, their spouse producing some feeling of obligation or selflessness where you agree to sex because your partner wants it and you want to make them happy, feel good. Complexity palpably relevant sans blaming abstinence only sex ed. curriculum hammering home messages like this, “Girls need to be aware they may be able to tell when a kiss is leading to something else. The girl may need to put the brakes on first in order to help the boy” put another way, making it abundantly clear what you are and are not willing to do, none of this non-verbal cues crap; the difference between kindness and gentleness we want men to exhibit toward women but don’t want to promote going both ways by not being needlessly cruel to a guy, your date, romantic interest, would be sexual partner when telling them what you’re not ready for. Or the pressure they feel isn’t from their sexual partner rather society at large telling them they should have sex, researchers panicked about millennials lack of sex, other countries launching their own studies scrutinizing their own populations waning sexual habits, wanting to see what all the fuss is about, hoping this guy will be better than the last. Interesting ‘Grace’ likens Ansari’s sexual prowess to a rough entitled 18 year old bemoaning he’s not instead a 34 year old comedian ‘who’s probably done more thinking about the nuances of dating and sex in the digital age than practically anyone else. He wrote a book about it, “Modern Romance”, and it was a New York Times bestseller. Ansari built his career on being cute and nice and parsing the signals women send to men and the male emotions that result and turning them into award-winning, Madison Square Garden-filling comedy,’ when she acts like the 14-15 year old high school freshman giving it up to the senior football player in the hopes he’ll like her. Meager defense she is a tender 23, 22 when this happened probably why adages about not dating persons so much older than you have persisted even as the more puritanical elements of American society have fallen away, people are more accepting of varying sexuality, premarital sex and the idea of sex for pleasure not just procreation, because the older person theoretically has more experience than you, housing a better grasp on what they want and it always ends badly for the younger, religious and cultural mores notwithstanding. Additionally probably why having sex on the first date remains under the ill-advised column whatever your definition of sex and discarding all religious baggage, because the result is you feel like ‘Grace’ in the morning equal parts violated and regretful. Personally I agree with Ana Kasparian’s take talking about her almost identical experiences and what she didn’t feel, violated, assaulted, like a victim and why, because the moment she got clear about not wanting to have sex with person X they stopped, a moment she highlighted in Grace’s story, when she got abundantly clear sex was a firm no Ansari stopped, but as long as she continued to be wishy-washy he was going to keep trying that doesn’t necessarily make him a creep. I agree with her and Cenk Uygur’s deep dive into explaining why they believe this is not a #metoo story either, expressing their disagreement and unsettled opinions on how the story was written as if the woman had no agency over what went on when she obviously did but was too insecure, lacking confidence to exercise it; from wondering why the editor put in the opening paragraphs a whole section on wine, her preference for red but his choice of white absent consulting her to asserting it undermines the credible parts of her story. It was no mystery to me, a writer myself I understood Babe’s author was trying to paint Ansari as aggressive, uncaring of his date turned sexual partner’s needs/wants from the outset whether that’s provably true with the information given doesn’t hold up to scrutiny leveled by the independent media pair; reminding all of us women, she had agency in those moments, no one either gender of sexual partner can read your mind and non-verbal cues aren’t nearly as clear as you think they are so tell your date/partner what you want, don’t want and if you don’t how do you expect things to improve? Grace’s’ reaction, the solidarity with her and Babe trying to morph this into a #metoo story must be that 3rd wave feminism warned about in quotes detailed in paragraph one. Personally I’m embarrassed sometimes to be a woman, I am embarrassed I feel like I have to apologize for the unflattering things women regularly do to shame fellow women in the eyes of anyone watching; I’m embarrassed millennium women in the 21st century slightly younger than myself in their 20’s barely 30, on top of all the other things millennials are blamed for, have been tasked with living down are so mealy mouthed and afraid. Be it in the above paragraph and their fear of Charlie Rose, exaggerated anxiety not about having a job, paying their bills, meeting their student loan repayment obligations but their career in journalism, more concerned with losing their opportunity over losing their dignity. To women with no sense of personal safety like the poor poolside Charlie Rose victim who didn’t know how to drive but went out there even as the evening got later, they got lost, then either didn’t have a cellphone or didn’t think to use it to call a cab, know a local cab company to call virtually leaving her stranded and powerless. Personally I know ‘Grace’s’ situation would never happen to me because having the benefit of dwindling comprehensive sex ed. and being drawn to independent living, sociology, psychology like classes in high school I heard something that has stuck with me; a teacher who when talking about basic reproduction facts, sex pertaining to relationship issues, the title of the practical arts class, when discussing aspects of consent and the fact a woman can say no at any time during sex but to be aware there is a point where a guy can’t stop at least not without injuring himself. Is that what I’m implying happened with Aziz Ansari, emphatically NO, but it began the moment when I resolved within myself I wouldn’t present myself as a tease to any man, if I wasn’t ready to go there, to have sex, do whatever he was interested in I wouldn’t put myself in a place like the one she put herself in. Closing here, “Listening to Grace doesn’t mean deciding all men should go to prison, or should lose their jobs. It does mean admitting that many men behave in exactly the ways their culture tells them to behave. It means asking men to recognize that and do better, and it means changing the culture so that badgering and pressuring women into sex is deplored, not endorsed. None of this will happen if we refuse to reckon with stories like Grace’s.” The glaring issue is neither Grace nor Babe articulated that plainly; they didn’t articulate the conversation they hoped to open up was one about sex that feels violating but isn’t criminal as the Huff Post author did referenced in video below, other articles have done in calling Ansari guilty of not being a mind reader; they just threw it out there collateral damage be damned.
Lesser, still evolving cases, Garrison Keillor, now more extensive investigation did uncover a pattern of hard to get away from sexual harassment Minnesota public radio says it was hitherto unaware of; including some of the same techniques that have the president of the United States in such hot water over his relationship with a porn star (digest that sentence for a moment) namely handing a woman he was in a relationship with a check and asking her to sign a confidentially agreement, uh-oh. The rest of his chronicled escapades put him in Matt Lauer territory humiliating one employee sending e-mails and written correspondence explicitly describing wanted touching, attraction or arousal on the part of Keillor, a college student not safe from his heedlessness of the power dynamic; although Salon did make the journalistic mistake of noting 2 consensual relationships with co-workers at establishments he ran, again conflating two separate issues. However, consider what he initially said happened in the alleged non-consensual incident, that he tried to comfort one of his female workers placing his hand on her back her shirt was open and his hand went up about 6 inches, she recoiled, he apologized and they remained friendly in his estimation until her lawyer called; subsequent question becoming a must ask, what happens when that really is the be all and end all of what happened and some over sensitive person a-la ‘Grace’ from the previous paragraph blows it completely out of proportion, are we going to see more careers go by the wayside that way, more people fired, blacklisted, forever labeled something they are not? Already schools have banned hugs less to be kind to autism spectrum kids, the growing number of people absent abusive pasts who abhor being touched and conversely to prevent sexual harassment; American schools who often get hammered for backward policies aren’t alone in this one the U.K. and others following suit, our neighbors across the pond taking it a step further banning best friends to promote inclusion, coming as a shock to many here watching from afar as adorable Britain’s Prince George began pre-school. Both totally detrimental to healthy emotional and sexual development later in life, the staggering number who can’t stand to be touched absent the usual reasons, basic sexual knowledge, avoiding creating more prudes and more needless, arbitrary rules around sex; secondary and tertiary issues feeding the discomfort and silence of the ‘Graces’ of the world versus people who can freely ask for what they want minus self-consciousness yes even in a sexual relationship, stave off the awkwardness of what ‘Grace’ experienced. We’re now having conversations about toxic masculinity in boys, young men, and grown men as it pertains to gun violence across the nation, boys told to ‘man up’ having positively no idea what that means, taught through cultural cues not to express emotion, not to give or expect hugs from their fellow same gender age mates, left with no socially acceptable emotional outlet than picking up a gun be it to commit suicide or harm others, probably a cornerstone in the nation’s domestic violence too, but let’s ban the most rudimentary form of physical emotional expression the hug so that guys can become more awkward and maladjusted when they do ever get a girlfriend and she cries they don’t know how to respond. Another aspect is looking into the alt-right, the rise of neo-Nazism across both the country and the globe that apparently has a surprising origin, bluntly sexual frustration, guys who can’t get girlfriends, guys who are involuntarily celibate and it isn’t limited to them being neo-Nazis; the alt-right is merely what they turned to when they were rejected by the opposite sex the same way Eliot Roger turned to pick up artists and Christopher Shawn Harper-Mercer to guns. Now before people start thinking the next thing this blog is going to come out and say is here is a reason why women need to be more lenient on guys, more willing to give it up, compromise themselves and their principals, absolutely not, but it is a problem only slated to get worse if we don’t do anything to show boys, young men and grown males how to get what they want, to make women interested in them, give them some clue to what women want from them which comes around again to freeing women to explore what they want, freely say what they want even when the subject matter encompasses the bedroom. Ryan Lizza was fired from the New Yorker over alleged improper sexual conduct; Lizza dismayed the stellar magazine chose to characterize the ending of a relationship with a woman he dated as ‘somehow inappropriate.’ Partial vindication coming for Lizza when he was initially suspended from CNN yet reinstated upon conclusion of a legitimate investigation opposite the New Yorker who when notified of the allegation skipped straight to the firing refusing to be associated with such a person regardless the merits of the case; it’s not an interesting bifurcation of standards in print versus television journalism, it’s one entity took the high road of doing the right thing daring to parse the messy details and the other didn’t bother before tossing him aside. To the larger point Lizza represents prevailing public assumption if you are being accused of anything in the wide ranging realm of sexual misconduct, you must be guilty of something, because, people don’t get obsessive, fail to recognize when it’s over forgetting Hollywood depictions of that dynamic (Fatal Attraction didn’t come from nowhere if only from the writer’s nightmares), the tendency for it to be dismissed as unreal even when portions can be seen mirrored in everyday life, it stands as a case of art imitating life not the other was around, there was a whole book later adapted to a movie about He’s Just not that Into You. Because breakups never go bad leaving one or both parties hurt and prone to lashing out, they do; just tune in to your local news and you’ll hear about the Virginia man who offered to pay for his fellow nursing home resident’s dentures then stole them back after she spurned his romantic advances, cops and the judge agreeing they were a gift and she was under no obligation to return them or agree to date, have sex with him. Consider the Florida woman who set out to set her cheating boyfriend’s car on fire only to get the wrong car, the Kentucky woman who set her husband on fire after catching him cheating giving him burns over 50% of his body (at least when Eminem rapped about it, it was a song, a metaphor, hyperbolic exaggeration, not a how-to guide), the Michigan woman who tried to light all her cheating husband’s possessions only to get the house too or the Georgia woman who upon losing the house in the divorce set it ablaze walked an hour to Wal-Mart with her 2 cats facing charges for damages to 20 properties not singularly what was once her own. The status in a relationship doesn’t denote it’s functionality or health look no farther than the woman who poisoned her husband’s breakfast cereal to avoid sex with him, one who called 9-1-1 when he refused sex and still another who slapped him and was subsequently arrested on domestic violence charges after he refused sex. One ran over her boyfriend, why he refused to stop at McDonald’s, at least the one who did so after learning he was HIV positive makes limited sense; not so much the one who tried to run over her boyfriend due to an argument that started over a sandwich. 4 women supergluing their philandering mans’ penis to his stomach isn’t exactly pulling a Lorena Bobbitt but close enough; trying to spice up your love life, don’t do what one southern couple did in 2009, substitute power tools for sex toys. Tragically the Maryland high school shooting was about a break-up where the shooter came to school, shot his former girlfriend and an innocent bystander who seems to have simply gotten in the way before turning the gun on himself. Ryan Seacrest was accused of various sexual abuses by a stylist who worked for him, grinding against her body wearing only his underwear, groping her genitals and slapping her buttocks so hard he left a welt while dressing him, styling his hair for various events. Seacrest subsequently went public with the allegations absent naming his accuser one Suzie Hardy, was investigated by his employer E- Online, cooperated with said investigation he adamantly says to prove his innocence and cleared of any wrong doing via insufficient evidence to move forward. Ms. Hardy still free to tell her story, how we now know her name is the results of the investigation has prompted her to raise her voice, American people free to judge who they find more credible, believable, in the right or wrong, her or Mr. Seacrest. Our challenge namely to her lawyer, show us the E-Online investigation was fraudulent, sloppy, deliberately ignored information, witness statements, additional allegations; you say they didn’t interview 4 persons who could corroborate Ms. Hardy’s retelling of inappropriate incidents with Seacrest, how do you know? On the contrary E-Online hired an outside firm to investigate, the witness who said he saw things like Seacrest shove Hardy’s head toward his crotch as she tied his shoes is a former disgruntled E-Online employee and apparently a friend of hers; the American Idol host hit back with some accusations of his own telling news outlets she offered to drop her claim if he paid her millions of dollars. Where the accuser, her legal representation has yet to publically bring froth evidence exposing impropriety in the investigation friends and allies of Seacrest did showcase a video showing him uncomfortable with her shoe tying, seemingly embarrassed by the display; fitting a familiar pattern those speaking out about their positive, ordinary interactions with him, only one purported victim to have come forward, yet that E-Online found too much he said she said to recommend his firing, turning it over to the police shocks some people as the wrong outcome. Remember the plea from feminists, from female activists, women’s rights groups, ordinary women themselves all is investigate harassment, abuse, misconduct, assault and rape like you would any other crime sans asinine, condescending and frankly absurd questions about whether or not the victim wanted it knowing full well law enforcement would never ask if you wanted the robbery, mugging, home invasion, carjacking or beating you were reporting. To investigate until the alleged victim, the facts uncovered give you reason not to; i.e. the right wing toll who tried to smear progressive politicians, so called mainstream media with a story on Roy Moore from a woman who said she had sex with him in her teens and her got her pregnant prompting an abortion whole objective to shame and embarrass media outlets who didn’t fall for it in the slightest. An abysmally failed ‘sting operation’ spearheaded by James O’Keefe, the same James O’Keefe known for ‘exposing’ democratic, liberal corruption through his Project Veritas, ACRON’s alleged voter fraud and counseling persons on how to set up a brothel in public housing (turns out playing along long enough to call the police) behind the infamous propagandized Planned Parenthood videos, latest ‘revelation’ the DNC, Hillary Clinton sending people to incite violence at Trump rallies during election season was paid $10,000 via the Trump Foundation 1 month before he announced his candidacy, that James O’Keefe, face plant. Recalling too in investigations against individuals like Larry Nassar it wasn’t that an investigation didn’t find things that were concerning, make recommendations both MSU and USA gymnastics should have heeded to protect students and particularly underage athletes, it’s those recommendations were never used, implemented. Latest news in the Nassar, MSU saga, his boss at the education institution was arrested on charges of using his office to harass, demean and sexually assault female students via groping, sexual comments to students, pornography also found on his work computer much of it depicting MSU students; among the pictures, Nassar performing one of his ‘treatments’ AKA sexual assault on an athlete. Breaking Ms. Hardy has officially filed a police report against Seacrest only time will tell if law enforcement finds more conclusive evidence than the outside firm hired by the entertainment program. Tavis Smiley had willing relationships with subordinates as he explained to Good Morning America post his suspension then firing from PBS based on a complaint brought by one subordinate and sparked ensuing investigation; allegations seeming to say he made lewd comments, made unwanted sexual advances creating a hostile work environment, making many subordinates feel keeping their job was contingent on them sleeping with him, feared retaliation for speaking to hired independent investigators. Worse because he dares fight the accusations leveled against him he is pegged as an A-hole by the public; even when his fight includes statements like hey PBS merely distributes my content, I own my own company and in our policies we discourage but not prohibit interoffice, boss subordinate relationships because: “I don’t know where your heart is going to lead you. I don’t know who you’re going to hang out with, or date, or fall in love with. (There may be) millions of Americans watching right now who met their spouse at work.” Sounds reasonable to most people; we should be equally concerned people probably did assume if he was being fired from PBS he probably had groped, assaulted or raped someone, exposed himself or coerced someone into sex as much as we should pay close attention to the hostile, toxic, sexually harassing work environment he’s said to have created. We aren’t responsible for other people’s feelings; isn’t that the mantra of the older, anti-snowflake crowd, the only feelings we are responsible for are our own? No one can make you feel anything is another popular self-help level one; how is it then these complaints, witnesses, former workers came to this conclusion without him ever directly implying it, saying it or acting on it, note retaliation witnesses said they feared is retaliation never come to pass. Additional information provided to GMA on company structure revealed he indeed owns it but middle management operates the day to day Smiley elaborating he never gave any command directive to promote or demote anyone according to if they were or weren’t in a relationship with him, he was never directly responsible for firing anyone but didn’t dole out directives to do so based on successful or failed relationships of the romantic variety even still has one person he was in a relationship with remaining employed on staff. If anything the problem would stem from assigned management hiring and firing employees based on are you seeing, not specifically sleeping with the boss; theory backed up by one former producer’s account talking about a woman he ‘picked up’ as in to date, spend the day/evening with from an airport and “bringing her along on a reporting trip as a “fuck buddy.” Unprofessional perhaps, but does not fit the 4 major parameters outlined for conduct PBS found inconsistent with their values rationalizing his suspension and ultimate firing; as she was not a subordinate their relationship, however brief and tawdry, should be filed under who cares, whether he made lewd comments irrelevant again because she didn’t work for him and went with him of her own free will, obviously the sexual advances weren’t unwanted if he was able to pick her up and specific sex acts talk was probably a turn on, the only thing making it wrong according to investigators was when it was people at work who showed no interest, toxic work environment, at the risk of being repetitive, doesn’t apply because she had nothing to do with his work. Nor are there public details describing him ignoring what he was there to do, the job he was supposed to be doing, employees who needed direction for the given assignment in order to lavish the new ‘fuck buddy’ with all his attentions, this was a pattern for him when away from set traveling causing his show, current projects or other workers’ careers to suffer. Making PBS not Smiley the ones who need to get their story straight; it seems the outside firm charged with investigating his actions may have uncovered suggestive text messages between him and the person he was in a relationship with at the time of the message and conflated that with lewd ‘unwanted’ messages sent to random subordinates. More of it again, mirroring Al Franken, the investigation The New Yorker refused to remotely attempt before axing Lizza, appears to go to process that Tavis Smiley was never informed of a complaint, of an investigation if only for the purpose of providing evidence proving his innocence or in his particular case the consensual nature surrounding relationships engaged in, finding out when former staffers alerted him to strange calls they were getting about him. Escalating the what the… factor he says only under threat of lawsuit did investigators agree to speak to him in a room for 3 hours no names of accusers given, no specific allegations laid on the table, dates, times, echoing Franken too he told GMA when all the questions are vague it’s hard to sit in a room and talk for hours not knowing what you’re talking about. Also sidestepping the crucial step of interviewing, talking to members comprising his current staff; if that’s true, unlike the Seacrest inquiry, what kind of investigation did they do? Sourcing the origin of Smiley’s ire, lost in his denial is his anger is channeled toward PBS, PBS’ handling of the situation not the idea a woman dared accuse him, come forward; underscoring every employee, boss, company owner should have the right to an investigation prior to termination, should have the right to present evidence in their defense before firing or meet their employer in a court of law for wrongful termination period. Interestingly enough every one of the major persons accused had at least one person put their name to the accusations, say I am behind this, he did that to me, whether it was Weinstein, Cosby, Spacy, Roy Moore, Al Franken, John Conyers, Russell Simmons and Bret Ratner, 3 of Dustin Hoffman’s victims spoke to television, Ryan Seacrest’s stylist gave her name, causing to stand out those who did not; it’s time Tavis Smiley’s accuser(s) put their name one it, one to say that’s me. Growing signs offshoots of #metoo if not #metoo itself may indeed be going too far in specific respects, allegations leveled against beloved comedian Robin Williams brought up in conjunction with a new biography being compiled on the star; crucial separation, Williams has been dead nearly 4 years, his long history with substance abuse, troubled marriages and eventual suicide tied to secondary Parkinson’s complications already tells you what a massively messed up person he was. Fulfilling a tragic history of comedians to be taken down by such things, using their personal demons and intense pain to bring us laughs and endless amusement renders this latest, what one journalist was brave enough to call it the strange smearing of Robin Williams, rightly insinuating in his case #metoo went looking for victims, needlessly crapping on a legacy. Paramount, though his fellow Mork and Mindy co-star detailed the sexually suggestive, gross things he regularly did on set she relates she was never offended by it, let alone humiliated, degraded or traumatized, but at least article called it a #metoo moment; regardless Mork and Mindy was in what decade, inconceivable like Franken his behavior evolved with the times. Ignored completely, why he was doing those things, not because he was a predator, perv, but because he liked her, probably wanted to date he and was expressing his interest, yes in the wrong way but expressing his interest all the same; something she instinctively understood and tried to convey while relaying factual information for a biography cognizant of the climate we live in. Want proof there was far more to the star than ‘creepy groping’ read how his teen at the time Mrs. Doubtfire co-star described him sticking up for her; father figure like not dirty old man. Parallel to Woody Allen and Roman Polanski who are still very much alive and represent pillar Hollywood stories that were both ignored and shrouded in ambiguities no one fought to get to the bottom of. Yet even Mr. Polanski’s victim asked a judge to dismiss the case owing to her having a granddaughter now and not wanting her to hear all the gory details, see her grandmother’s name associated with that which is more a commentary on our justice system than anything else versus Dylan Farrow who refuses to be silenced or stop telling what happened to her at the hands of Woody Allen Dustin Hoffman who mirroring Roy Moore’s involvement was with minors one of whom was friends with his daughter at the time; improprieties we need to hear about no matter when they happened because they happened to children, happened unwillingly and uncomfortably to people not yet of age. Dido the allegations about Ren and Stempy creator Jon Kricfalusi who is accused of grooming teens for sexual abuse culminating in a relationship when victim 1 was 16 him calling her his girlfriend leaving her with PTSD a ruined childhood and a forced career change; the other while things never got physical he did repeatedly sexually harass her at 18 when she worked for his animation company says she found child porn on his computer and promptly left after he joked about raping her. The more we know about predatory past behavior the more we can protect kids in the present and future rehashing stories unto a purpose.
Bill Maher got it right again in his new rules segment shining light on Hollywood’s #metoo related gray area, the realization there are roughly 3 plots to romantic comedies: she married her boss, stalking is romantic or I hate you then I love you, many recent offerings written or directed by women, to say nothing of the thousands of 2 X chromosome individuals, women who bought tickets to the films, devoured books like 50 Shades of Gray with gusto, (leaving psychologists explaining why the number one movie as of mid-February 2018, in the midst of the #metoo movement, was about ‘a woman on a leash’) grown female members of the population drawn to reading typically adolescent offerings, putting Twilight in its own category unto itself, The Hunger Games, the Divergent series because of the strong female characters. Elaborating human interaction is messy and there is no sidestepping that messiness because people do change their mind regarding those who express romantic interest, attraction, change their mind about what they want, or thought they wanted, see the person around the office, around the neighborhood and get to know them altering their viewpoint in the positive concerning them, we don’t know why we are attracted to the people we are attracted to only that we are. Anyone who’s experienced a breakup let alone a bad one can attest to the awkwardness, mixed emotions and general upheaval that happens when you inevitably meet each other in mutual go to spots, a favorite grocery store, bar, club, gym, restaurant, refer to the negatives one paragraph pervious, stories your own friends have told you. But things do have degrees, there is a difference between a pat on the rear and child molestation, if you don’t believe him or Matt Damon twitter, just ask any molestation victim, woman who had a guy expose himself to her or one who was actually raped. There is a difference between yanked into back of a van and a backrub by the water cooler, a backrub anywhere and finding yourself pants halfway down in your bosses office, coming to on the floor of your boss’ office being unceremoniously hauled off to a nurse when you were originally summed to do some aspect of legitimate work; that last one courtesy of Matt Lauer. Masturbation is normal, even healthy just not in the park Maher said or in front of co-workers, subordinates or co-stars who can’t reasonably get away from you Loui C.K., et al. All are bad but 2 of them are worse and should be handled accordingly, crafting appropriate, meaningful punishments, not to mention justice itself, requires weighing things, as the comedian pointed out; and, it should be the apex of ok to say that, just that clearly. Except if you do you’re not woke enough for 3rd wave feminists, Kirsten Gillibrand hoping to run for president someday soon (video after paragraph one) she’s the female congresswoman whose response to Al Franken he’s commenting on countering her argument: when we have to start distinguishing between varying kinds of sexual assault we’re having the wrong conversation. An odd set of cognitive dissonance recollecting these were the people siding with successful comedians refusing to do the college circuit any longer because no one lacks logic like millennials who willfully don’t understand that not every gay joke is homophobic or a gay man doing a comedy skit about his life including his two black friends isn’t always racist; trying to convince them why Feraz Ozel’s first time ever doing stand-up:” three minutes on giving his girlfriend herpes and banging his grandma” is funny. Why Doug Stanhope would try explaining to religious kids that there’s no God, or Dennis Miller would try telling an audience of social-justice warriors that France’s efforts to limit junk food in schools are part of the country’s “master plan to raise healthier cowards”, though the kids would likely agree with Miller, and we are supposed to laugh. When communication 101, stand-up comedy or not, is consider your audience, but the ‘children’ can’t stomach logic. Maher is right we should just be having additional conversations, talking about how they all fit together toward making a better society not singularly making men the bad guy; because we can walk and chew gum at the same time, we are as overwhelmingly democrat, progressive or independent politically minded persons the conversation people and it’s time old fuddy-duddy politicians and 22/23 year old photographers equally acted like it. Here is where Grace’s story belongs in every sex ed. (comprehensive should be the only kind) class teaching guys not to be like that and girls the nuances between rape, assault, abuse and unpleasant, uncomfortable sex; community classes and sensitivity seminars pulled together to combat catcallers, relentlessly bad come-ons and patently insensitive things boyfriends/dates do on a regular basis. Teaching women they do have agency on any date, in any relationship and here’s how you use it, by speaking up, by being brutally honest about what you do and don’t want, having some idea what that is before engaging in sex; if you are uncomfortable with how sex is going say so, give your partner directions on what to do to make it more comfortable or a clear message you changed your mind about doing this. You do have agency over your food/drink order on any date and if he’s that pushy in a first or second date scenario as to think he can order for you maybe that’s a red flag, maybe you don’t go back to his apartment yet, maybe you don’t let him startle you into oral or conventional sex; too late one guesses to ask if we have to role play this stuff because it’s become readily apparent we do. There is a reason Ashleigh Banfield capped it at an unpleasant experience and it wasn’t because Aziz Ansari’s date when faced with sexual assault didn’t fight back, punch him in the nuts, bite him, run screaming from the building or some other stereotypically bandied about idea that’s totally unrealistic nonsense only said by people who’ve never come close to facing it, instead because it was so unpleasant due to Ansari’s ineptitude in comprehending what women want, how to woo them, change their mind. An homage to what ‘Grace’ wasn’t as much as what she was, she wasn’t frozen in shock, blocking out what happened like the Charlie Rose assistant at that poolside struggling to this day to piece together exactly what happed, by contrast remembering it in surprising detail; nothing in her story indicating that had he been the romantic wonder she originally thought he was she wouldn’t have had sex with him and gladly bragged to her friends about how good he was. It then stands to reason, when it wasn’t she opted for creative revenge hints the article relayed to Babe; because for all the indicators they worked to protect Aziz Ansari’s date because she is neither a famous person nor a public figure there is something insidious about her shielding her identity while taking real aim ruining his, and she hasn’t come forward to own she was his date behind the article and here’s what they got wrong about what I said. Masha Gessen of the New Yorker summed up really all these cases best when getting to the heart of our real problem with Al Franken, “The case of Franken makes it all that much more clear that this conversation is, in fact, about sex, not about power, violence, or illegal acts. The accusations against him, which involve groping and forcible kissing, arguably fall into the emergent, undefined, and most likely undefinable category of “sexual misconduct.” Put more simply, Franken stands accused of acting repeatedly like a jerk, and he denies that he acted this way. The entire sequence of events, from the initial accusations to Franken’s resignation, is based on the premise that Americans, as a society, or at least half of a society, should be policing non-criminal behavior related to sex…If only Franken’s heartbreakingly articulate expression of his loss were capable of focusing our attention on this root, and on the dangers of the drive to police sex.” There are people in our society who think it is their job to police sex, who think they have the moral superiority, high ground to do so based on the holy book of a singular religion that says sex outside marriage is wrong; who use it to control sex, who has it, who doesn’t, under what conditions based not on the ick factor and biological dangers of sex, resulting children with first degree relatives, not the ritualistic nature of these things that regularly encompass underage children/teens married to, having relationships with middle age/old men, the psychological damage it causes, rather letting said men use marriage to justify pedophilia, mindsets which allowed Roy Moore to call his pursuit of teens in his 30’s dating. A position and churned out laws making healthy, sexually exploratory teens criminals, based not on the risks of teenage sex, literal damage that can be done to mainly a young girl’s body having sex too early, and patterned instances of spreading once deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS, new cases predominately in young people, infertility based on repeated sexually transmitted infections, unknown thus untreated STI’s, the incurable, barely treatable STD’s like herpes and genital warts, HPV (also transmitted through sexual contact) an underlying factor; while simultaneously railing against its 3 dose vaccine as a license for girls to do unnatural things i.e. have sex, apoplectic at the young age it’s first administered disregarding staggering statistics on child molestation and sexual abuse which could give them that virus among other things linked to cervical cancer. Up in arms parents choose to vaccinate their boys based on the growing number of men suffering throat cancer tied to once had oral sex, a phenomenon not singularly born out of the ‘deviance’ of homosexuality but teen exploration guaranteed not to result in pregnancy trafficked as the moral end of the world in religious circles, parents who know from painful personal experience boys too can be sexually abused exposing them to the same cancer risk just effecting a different body part; infinitely more focused on the moral sacrilege of willing teen sex. Raised religious voices not speaking out about why teams are emotionally immature and unprepared for relationships especially those including sex, on the lookout for genuine red flags of unhealthy relationships, domestic violence and emotional abuse’s growing presence in teen relationships as it is in adult ones, sings of co-dependency or other documented dangerous relationship dynamics that could go as far as threatening their life in some way, to applauded teens would think of sex, a teen girl would choose to have sex without the interference of a coercing older boy, a boy can be influence by a girl, because puberty, without her being a stereotyped ‘bad girl’ Viewpoints always ready to scream about the far reaching implications, economic impact of teen pregnancy, ignoring their perpetuating identical ideology underpinning their thoughts on abortion, it isn’t about the sanctity of life, if it was they wouldn’t rally for abstinence only sex education discarding imperial data the more information you give teens about sex, safer sex, pregnancy prevention tactics the later they elect to have sex, and would be for dispensing birth control as easily and safely as possible to those who think they are ready for sex, might have sex instead of doing the polar opposite; it is about old dinosaur men who believe they have ownership of women’s bodies based on their brand of ‘biblical’ morality, who think morality not medicine should dictate reproductive and sexual healthcare care; what isn’t dangerous about that? Circling this back around to the current topic, self-appointed sex policers who would take equal shots at Aziz Ansari and ‘Grace’ for fornication with an added shot at her for casually giving away her ‘purity’, whatever that means in the post 60’s sexual revolution, evolving 21st century attitudes toward sex, reiterating statistics on sexual abuse, assault and rape statics, numbers of women effected by the time they reach 18, the legal age of majority in America. Policing sex not actual misconduct, efforts to stop rape, assault and abuse is what Charlie Rose found himself up against, with a side of epic miscommunication, policing sex is what got Tavis Smiley in trouble, not any criminal or employment wrong doing. But the socially appointed sex police get off on publicly shaming the likes of Franken for bad passes at women, a woman who pushed him away, told him off and that should have been the end of it. Delight in conflating Charlie Rose, up until the pool, episode with genuine predators who belong in jail for lengthy prison sentences for seeking female companionship and becoming confused about the lines between romance and work, who now feel justified now smearing Robin Williams for being clumsy expressing his like for a girl instead of focusing exclusively on illegal acts, preventing illegal acts. Going all the way back to paragraph one and the women who do lie about rape, the innocent usually men whose lives are destroyed by false accusations, we would have a lot less of that if we stopped policing consensual sex, stopped looking at sex as something dirty but necessary, stopped judging women for liking sex, for their number of sexual partners drastically unequal to men in our collective condemnation. At the same time making it easier for the victims of sexual crimes and violence rape, sex assault, harassment or abuse to not only come forward but be believed and taken seriously; because, there are next to no false stories, because teens have no reason to fear their parents potentially physically dangerous wrath, their disappointment, being ejected from their home, they have no reason to hide an unplanned pregnancy in intense shame either due to using pregnancy prevention or freedom to be open and honest about their relationship with their boyfriend. Here is where society also needs to get to, a place where sex is just sex an activity, a thing, a topic weighty in itself, worthy of being given its due, but no more or less so than significant issues in every society; drawing clear, impenetrable lines between willing sex, attempts to get consensual from another party and power, violence, criminal acts surrounding sex that are illegal for a reason beyond religious mores. We desperately need to likewise cut the pretense men no longer pursue women, attempt to persuade them, woo them in the modern era, the 21st century rather just harass them; many such endeavors result in long term relationships not limited to a few dates, marriage proposals not stopping at cohabitation and a couple of kids. An example of that whole ‘stalking is romantic’ thing the Real Time host talked about; high school sweethearts that get married and begin families still exist today and they aren’t your grandparents, stories about how a relative kept trying to impress the pretty lady that the office aren’t coming form 91 year old great uncles but 40 year old aunts who-married her 3rd husband or perhaps yourself understanding 38% of people surveyed have dated a co-worker and 31% of said interoffice dates, relationships end in marriage. Human beings are complicated and you don’t need a Facebook category to tell you that; another true hit on in the guise of comedy not every guy who made a woman uncomfortable did it because he’s an ass-hole. Sometimes they do it because they like you; sometimes they do it because that like makes them so nervous they trip over their own tongue, awkwardness not everyone ‘grows out of’ in high school, college. Sometimes they do it because that line has always worked before because they are so flummoxed by their feelings they resort to cliché TV lines, lame stock pickups and come-ons, and sometimes they do what they do because they honestly believe their feelings, their actions are being reciprocated, appreciated, mutual, no matter how badly they are misreading it. They are not all predators, they are not all deserving of employment death sentences and permanent excommunication from society as unhappy as that will make some 3rd wave feminists; it doesn’t make it any less true when going through the human condition.