It seems like every day some celebrity or journalist is accused of sexual misconduct and loses his job. It’s too bad the same can’t be said for outed pervy politicians. The whole thing seems like a witch hunt, but the witches are real, and they’re libido-driven predators.
And they must be stopped. Stopping predators starts with convincing them to respect others and exercise self control. Like this:
Dude. Stop thinking with your pal downstairs. He’s a selfish little jerk who only wants what he wants when he wants it. And he wants it all the time. Don’t let it be a case of he says, you do.
Stop listening to him, and start listening to your heart. This is the organ that contains anything that’s morally good about you. Your brain checks (or should check) with it before you do or say something you shouldn’t.
Dumb and dirty
Things you shouldn’t say or do?
1. Copping a feel during a photo op
2. Muttering dirty suggestions to a female co-worker
3. Answering the door to a fake business meeting in a robe
You know, senseless, foolish things you somehow think will be as much of a turn-on for your victims as for you in your endorphin-drenched and hormone-addled mindlessness.
Do you think that Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose and Harvey Weinstein still think their actions were a good idea? Trust me—they’re thinking what in the world was I thinking? Wrong thinking is what got them in trouble. They didn’t think rightly because they couldn’t think clearly. Which begs the question:
How does one think and act morally when to do so requires a strength of character that is either nonexistent or overcome by hormone-powered and misplaced desire?
Doing the right thing—not cheating on your spouse or harassing a subordinate into submission (or worse), requires a no-compromise, zero-tolerance standard of opposite-sex interaction. You know, like the kind Vice President Pence lives by and for which he was pilloried by arrogant journalists, Hollywood types and others.
This foolishness prompted an interesting observation from a writer friend of mine. He noticed that nowadays the test for sexual misconduct has everything to do with consent and nothing to do with morality.
Yet many talk of accusations, outings and firings as part of a “sea change,” a heralding of a national course correction. As if these sad, silly, sordid—and often criminal sexual incidents are cautionary tales that can somehow alter our fallen nature or prevent other potentially horrible men from making the same “mistakes.”
Sexual predation has been happening for centuries and will continue to happen because that’s how men (and women) are bent.
Some act this way because they are this way. And I’m not just talking to and about men. Trust me, women can be predators, too. I know because a few have preyed on me. I relate the experiences below not to illicit sympathy, but to offer a mere sliver of semi-qualified empathy.
So here are some of my #MeToo moments:
As a 16-year-old busboy at a four-star restaurant, some randy twenty-something female bartenders and cocktail waitresses repeatedly groped me. They also told me things they wanted to do to me and would do, if I wasn’t “jailbait.” And on occasion they tried—two of them drunkenly invited me into the bar storeroom, and while they fumbled around to remove my belt and corduroys, the kitchen manager walked in.
While waiting tables during college, I asked some guests what they’d like for dessert. An especially wine-soaked, middle-aged woman slurred, “You!” She then tried to pull me onto her lap to the delight of the others.
While working as an aerial photographer, I was subjected to sexually suggestive comments from a female boss and a gift of seven green M&Ms. I told a friend, and she urged me to talk to her about it. Reluctantly, I did. She freaked, and her bosses found out.
The next thing I know corporate flies to our Dallas branch from Phoenix, and I’m invited to a sit-down, tape-recorded meeting. I tell them that I’m quitting soon to go to grad school, and they offer me a healthy severance package in exchange for my signature on a legal release.
In a world filled with Weinsteins, Lauers and Roses, I can’t pretend that I know how women feel, but I’ve experienced feeling like a piece of meat, of being wanted in a fleshly, predatory way. It’s a cheapening sensation and can be disgusting.
Women aren’t guiltless, but making others feel cheap is primarily perpetrated by arrogant, selfish men.
The good news is that the national focus on this issue du jour presents a wonderful opportunity. We men can act like men and let our consciences (our hearts) be our guides instead of taking orders from our members.
Matt Lauer seems to be listening to his conscience. Finally. Here are his words for which he has no words:
There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry ….
This is a good start. If only others would own their misbehavior like Lauer. It’s refreshing to read a fairly genuine apology rather than the typical non-apologetic apologies offered by others. If I have offended anyone, I am sorry and apologize. (If I haven’t, I do not.)
There are way too many butt-covering, damage-control responses like these, but Kevin Spacey’s is the ultimate mis-apology. In response to allegations that he sexually abused a 14-year-old actor, he tweeted:
“I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.”
I honestly don’t remember … but if I did what he says I did, well …
Okay, guys—now what?
We have a sexual behavior problem that’s really a power and ego problem. Everyone has a libido. Some think they can satisfy it at the expense of others. They need to know that they can’t. We should not and cannot allow lecherous men or women to selfishly abuse others.
But let’s be sure not to try and fry the accused without compelling evidence. Let’s not turn a lech hunt into a witch hunt. We need to teach boys and men to treat everyone with dignity and respect and correct those who cross the line.
I say boys and men first because we’re the ones who need help the most. Girls and women will be fine, if we, the primary perpetrators, learn to think and act like gentlemen instead of arrogant and selfish predators.