Monday, October 30, 2017

The Harasser-In-Chief And The Recent Flood Of Sexual Harassment Allegations

While (alleged) serial sexual harassers in the media and movie industries (like Weinstein, TobackHalperin and Wieseltier) are finally made to face the consequences of their (alleged) behavior, our Dear Leader is still the self-admitted harasser-in-chief who was voted in by tens of millions of Americans (even if with Russian help) either despite all that pussy-grabbing or maybe even because of it!

Now how do you explain that paradox? 

It's not a paradox, I think.  Rather, many of the sexually molested women in this country heard the election results and their anger boiled over for the way their suffering* was discounted as just "locker-room talk." 

I argue that the flood of allegations we are currently seeing, against a large number of powerful men, is precisely because Trump is the president.  Once a sufficient number of angry women were willing to take the risks of going public**, others could join them,  because there is power in numbers and in the repeated descriptions of similar harassment by many unrelated victims.

In short, we have Trump to thank for the current evidence on how common sexual molestation in corporate America seems to be.
*  This suffering is both instant and real, especially if the molestation takes a more violent form. 

But it exists for even the more marginal forms of harassment, because it signals that a particular object of harassment is not really a valid member of the team or the workforce, but is present as a kind of pizza which was delivered for the delectation of others. 

Another way of viewing such harassment is that it's an extra cost for some employees and not for others, something to take into account, something to cope with, something which consumes energy that should go into the work itself.

Note, also, that though the recent newspaper revelations have been about events fairly high on corporate power ladders, women (and men) in low-income jobs face even more harassment and have fewer ways to protect themselves against it.

** These risks are very real.  Nobody likes a trouble-maker, and complaining about a very powerful boss, say, is not going to make future job searches easier or promotions more likely.  Rather the reverse. 

Indeed, in some fields going public with such claims can mean the end of the complainer's career, even if the complaints are shown to be valid. This is one reason why many of the claims turn up years or even decades later.