Cain’s latest (with Cain, every few hours there’s a latest)

Unbelievable. One day after alleging that the exposure of the sex harassment charges against him was motivated by the left’s opposition to a black conservative, Cain tells Richard Miniter of Forbes that the report came from the Perry camp, namely from a former Cain consultant whom Cain says he told about the sex harassment charge in 2003 and who now works for Perry. But the consultant denies that Cain ever told him about it and says he never heard about it until the last week.

I’m looking at this candidate’s completely out of control handling of this issue and wondering how anyone can continue to take him seriously.

But of course I never had that “I like/love Herman Cain” epiphany that so many conservatives have had, and therefore I don’t have the automatic reaction they have, of saying, “I don’t care what he did or what he says, I like Herman! He’s a real guy!”

UPDATE, 8:41 p.m. And now, just 20 minutes after I posted this entry, there’s yet another “latest,” but this one makes me take Cain’s side. The story comes from Politico. Based on something said in a panel discussion by Cain’s own campaign manager Mark Block about “a radio talk show host of Iowa” whose “receptionist thought that Mr. Cain’s comments were inappropriate,” Jonathan Martin, who originally broke the Cain sex harassment story at Politico, writes:

POLITICO has learned that the incident involved a staffer for Steve Deace, an influential conservative talk radio host who hosts a nationally syndicated show in Des Moines. And Deace says he did take offense.

Deace, who penned an opinion piece critical of Cain earlier this month, told POLITICO in an email that Cain said “awkward” and “inappropriate” things to the staff at his station.

“Like awkward/inappropriate things he’s said to two females on my staff, that the fact the guy’s wife is never around…that’s almost always a warning flag to me,” Deace wrote. “But I chose to leave that stuff out [of the opinion piece] and make it about his record and not the personal stuff.”

Pressed about what exactly Cain said to the employees of his show, Deace responded by describing how he himself treats his staff.

“Many a man has been done in by the inability to control his urges,” Deace wrote. “I am no different and just as vulnerable as any other man, which is why I put safeguards around me and hold myself accountable to my wife and other men in my life. Especially since I have very talented employees that happen to be women. I go out of my way to treat them like my sisters. For example, I wouldn’t tell them or any other woman I am not married to nor related to how pretty she is.”

So the “inappropriate” behavior was that Cain told a receptionist that she was pretty? And this is the big revelation that has Matt Coulter at Race42012 conclude that Cain is finished? Coulter writes:

You get the feeling that the wheels are about to come off. Multiple women, eyewitnesses, and inappropriate behavior as recent as this current campaign … I said a couple days ago that it was difficult to see how this story had any legs, but now it’s getting increasingly difficult to see how Cain comes out of this alive, politically speaking.

Cain is politically dead, because he told a woman working in a radio station where he was being interviewed that she was pretty? (And how did he say it? Did he say, “Mr. Deace, perhaps your pretty assistant could adjust my microphone”?) And if saying that a woman was pretty is the latest Cain offense, perhaps that was his offense back in the 1990s as well. Am I alone in thinking there is something unhinged about this?

This brings us back to Andrew McCarthy’s remark to me that the conservatives have made a big mistake in adopting the left’s feminist framework and assumptions on this issue. What they should have done, argues McCarthy, was denounce the liberal media for their politics of personal destruction, in which they use standards against Republicans that they never use against Democrats. But what McCarthy didn’t deal with was why conservatives adopt those false standards. And the answer, as suggested by the statements of Steve Deace and Matt Coulter, is that the conservatives have themselves become devout feminists, believing that any complimentary, courtly, or flirtatious remark made by a man to a woman in a work setting is a career-ending offense.

The crosswinds of this nutty “scandal” are blowing us—me—every which way, as can be seen in this entry. But as of now I am a McCarthyite. I say that conservatives should stand with Cain against these vague, phony feminist charges. If Republican voters decide that Cain is not presidential material, they can render that judgment with their votes in the primaries. But that is a separate issue from this current attempt to destroy him, which should be resisted. (Update, Nov. 3: However, if Cain destroys himself by his responses to the charges, there’s nothing anyone can do about that.)

- end of initial entry -

LA writes:

While I have criticized Cain a lot during this affair, my criticisms have all been directed at his confused and incompetent handling of the issue, not at the unspecified behavior of which he has been accused.

JC in Houston writes:

I simply don’t understand the infatuation so many conservatives have with Cain. His supporters have become “Cainbots” in the same manner as the “Palinbots,” though for the life of me I can’t understand why. Cain has even less credentials and experience than Palin. This mess is reminiscent of his attempts to explain his seemingly inconsistent positions on abortion. The man, as has been noted here before, is an ignoramus on basic issues and is just plain not qualified to serve as POTUS. If Cain is nominated, Obama (who just rose to a “new low” 47 percent approval rate in yesterday’s Quinnipiac poll) will be reelected in my opinion. In contrast, Michelle Bachmann, whom I consider now the best of the lot and a serious candidate, made a strong stand in regard to not pandering to illegal alien children. It’s a damned shame that she’s near the bottom of the pack in the polls while this buffoon Cain is at the top.

Andrew McCarthy writes:

Larry, many thanks. If it’s any consolation—and it probably isn’t—I’m equally torn. Leaving aside what you argue I failed to account for, I also didn’t bank on Cain’s making a weighty accusation against the Perry campaign on what right now seems like very flimsy evidence. If it turns out that Cain made this damaging allegation on the basis of mere supposition without concrete proof, I think as a practical matter it becomes very difficult for him to pose as the victim of media recklessness. In order to carry off the case of media hypocrisy credibly, the candidate himself has to stay above hypocrisy. Otherwise, while the sexual harassment kerfuffle does not gain any substance, we do end up learning some pertinent, unsavory information about the candidate.

LA replies:

I said in the initial entry that the question of Cain’s disqualifications, which I’ve discussed repeatedly, is a separate question from these vague, unsubstantiated, and unfair sex harassment charges against him, from which he ought to be defended. But, as you suggest, if he himself is making unsubstantiated charges against other candidates, then that balancing act becomes difficult to maintain.

D. Edwards writes:

Mr. McCarthy writes:

“Otherwise, while the sexual harassment kerfuffle does not gain any substance, we do end up learning some pertinent, unsavory information about the candidate.”

As lawyer Mr. McCarthy should know that there is a presumption of innocence before a trial. Also, Mr. Obama seemed not to have to navigate these waters in 2008. Why is that? [LA replies: As you well know, this is not a matter of determining criminal guilt, but of making a political judgment.]

Also from Washington Times via Drudge:

“PICKET: Source—Rahm Emanuel involved in Cain sexual harassment accuser attacks.”

Beth M. writes:

You wrote:

“the conservatives have themselves become devout feminists, believing that any complimentary, courtly, or flirtatious remark made by a man to a woman in a work setting is a career-ending offense.”

ANYBODY running for President who doesn’t understand the need to adhere to a very strict code of professionalism when interacting with “random females” he encounters on his journey is simply too stupid and out of touch to be taken seriously. You would think that someone who has already had to pay out settlements due to allegations of inappropriate behavior (whether those allegations were founded or unfounded) would be ultra cautious about his behavior toward women, especially if he knew that every action that he took would be scrutinized by the press.

Cain is a bad joke. If he doesn’t know that China has been a nuclear power for decades, it is because he simply does not read books, magazines, websites or newspapers, and he obviously is not interested in foreign affairs at all. It used to be that people who ran for President were generally the sort who had lived and breathed this stuff since childhood.

I am truly distressed by the fluffiness of all of the candidates, Democrat and Republican. It reminds me of junior-high kids running for Student Council. “And if I’m elected, I’ll work to have a new natatorium built, with an Olympic-size pool!”

LA replies:

From one angle, your comment about the disqualifying stupidity of the behavior seems unanswerable.

But from another angle, why must we subscribe to these feminist dictates? Part of Cain’s charm for his supporters is that he’s not a professional, calculated politician, that he behaves spontaneously. He even sings while on the campaign trail.

Jerry Z. writes:

As I’ve noted before on this site, I ruled the guy out immediately on the general grounds that the cultural/philosophical gap between any black in America today and the majority white population is too large for one to be POTUS. However, he is now in the process of proving by his words and deeds that he certainly is no exception to this rule—if we imagined that was possible. Anti-discrimination logic forces us to make yet one more try. However, I don’t put much credence in the ultra sensitivity of women to judge insignificant behavior of men to be harassing—whether that man is black or white.

“Harassment” is a phony construct, and has been since its appearance. It was, as these laws always seem to be, aimed at white men. However, it’s interesting that black women seem so ready to bring charges against black men—not the preferred target—no matter how trivial (possibly in Cain’s case) the circumstance. Once an insanity is loosed, it spreads. Granted, it takes media interest to blow it up. But that’s what it’s for—a terrorist time-bomb that can be dragged out on any occasion to tame political apostates. Or ANY male upstart.

Jim C. writes:

Prediction: the complainants are white

November 3

Beth M. replies to LA:

Charm is overrated, and is no substitute for knowledge or wisdom, both of which are lacking in Herman Cain. Cain has the same problem as Palin in terms of his knowledge base. Neither of them seem to know anything about foreign affairs or the military capabilities and political goals of our adversaries. They just are not interested enough to spend time studying these things. I’m not particularly interested myself, but I’m not running for President. And, in spite of my limited interest, I would know offhand that France has nukes, while Germany doesn’t, China has nukes while Japan doesn’t, Israel, Russia, and possibly South Africa have nukes, Great Britain has nukes but has some sort of agreement with us not to use them without permission, etc. I’m not interested in the topic, but if you read a fair amount, you learn it anyway.

I don’t think that you need to be a genius to be President, or that you need to have high levels of expertise in every major field within a President’s power, but there is real work involved in being a decent President. My guess would be that Obama, our current President, does NOT read the briefing papers he is given, or maybe he just skims them. He is overconfident and under informed, and has relied heavily on his charm to advance in life. This is a fairly common pattern with those who have risen to great heights with the aid of Affirmative Action. Herman Cain would be a second dose of Affirmative Action Charm and Laziness. No thanks.

“Why must we subscribe to these feminist dictates?” Well, YOU don’t have to, and neither do I. Lots of people avoid certain lines of work because they (1) don’t want to wear a coat and tie; (2) don’t want to work in an office/indoors; (3) don’t want to have to travel; (4) don’t want to work for “jerks”; etc. One of the problems our society has right now is that the high-paying factory jobs that used to be available for non-conformists who simply wanted to work 40 hours per week and then live their own lives are no longer available. Cain wants to be President, but he is the Marlboro Man who isn’t going to play by somebody else’s rules? Remember how irritating Jimmy Carter was? He INSISTED on having “Jimmy” on his official stationery, ignoring the advice of his entire staff at the White House.

Cain is well into his sixties, which is fairly old for a black man, he is ignorant, and he thinks it is more important to be spontaneous than to follow contemporary norms of professional behavior. Believe me, black men can be VERY pushy, and their “charm” often feels like sexual harassment to those on the receiving end of it. An ambitious black man with sense would try to be purer than Caesar’s wife in this area, simply because black men have such a bad reputation for badgering the living H@#$ out of every young female they encounter. Obama has been sex-scandal free so far by behaving well in this area. He has a very non-threatening persona. The fact that Cain WILL NOT alter his behavior, even when running for President, shows me that he either is not serious about becoming President, or that he is extremely immature. Actually, running for President when you aren’t serious about winning is also a fairly good indicator of immaturity.

Cain really does make me think of the twenty-something girls who go on job interviews with a ring in their nose, because “this is who I am!”

If you put together a list of personality and character traits that would be advantageous for a President to have, would you include spontaneity? Be honest….

Finally, I’m going to play the “Female Card” on you, and remind you that you have never had the experience of being stuck on a bus with a black man who wants to go home with you, and won’t take no for an answer, who asks one personal question after the next, follows you from one end of the bus to the other when you try to get away, gets louder and louder as he tries to shame you into having a relationship with him by saying that you are racist, and leaves you in fear as you realize that he knows where you got on the bus and where you got off, and that he may stalk you at some point in the future. Cain isn’t charming, he is not Presidential material, and if he is the Republican nominee, then Bambi stays in the saddle till 2016. The awful thing is that Cain isn’t much worse than Romney or Perry.

LA replies:

That’s a powerful comment. However, I also have to say that it’s not fair to conflate your experience with a black man who persistently and threateningly came on to you in a bus, and the charges against Cain. No one has remotely accused him of such behavior. The incidents seem to be one-time incidents where he said something that bothered a woman. As Richard O. reminds us in the next comment, such behavior is not even harassment by the ordinary and correct definition of the word. Harassment means a persistent pattern of bothering someone.

Richard O. writes:

No man should have to live in fear of offending some female who has the DNC on speed dial.

Ann Coulter argues accurately that the press gave Bill Clinton the benefit of a new rule—one free grope for Democrats. That’s actually not a bad rule (though Coulter was making a good point about press hypocrisy). “Harassment” means “to worry and impede by repeated raids” or “to annoy continually or chronically.” So we ought to dismiss single incidents out of hand. [LA replies: But, of course, since about twenty years ago, that’s not what sex harassment means in practice and under the law. Sex harassment was absurdly and mischievously re-defined to mean a single incident, distorting the very meaning of harassment. Yet we all went along with this Orwellian and tyrannical redefinition; for example, we all speak of the accusation of a one-time incident in which Cain allegedly said something to someone as an accusation of “harassment.” From now on, whenever I am speaking of an alleged one-time incident of sexual harassment, I am going to put “harassment” in scare quotes, just as I do with same-sex “marriage.”]

Better for women to be required to serve notice through a formal letter privately delivered to the man when she encounters the first instance of allegedly objectionable behavior. This would lead to no action or stigma but would serve either to warn the man (the sexes could be reversed) to desist from genuinely objectionable behavior or to take extraordinary measures (Beth M.’s ultra caution) to steer clear of unwitnessed contact with any fruitcakes or blackmailing types.

If any of the women now surfacing were to make their accusations having made an initial complaint, this would seem a lot less like an unseemly attempt to ambush Cain with scurrilous charges and more like evidence of a lack of judgment. As it is, I couldn’t care less about what some receptionist who has but seconds of contact with a man alleges made her feel “uncomfortable” or “awkward.”

We know that men sometimes treat women subordinates as they should not and we also know that some women subordinates are hypervigilant about opportunities to make money from an extorted legal settlement.

People accused of misconduct are presently at the mercy of accusers who have the capability to inflict ruinous damage by accusations of conduct that allegedly took place away from witnesses. We see the damage they can inflict in the present circumstances. The grave stroking of chins and furrowed brows of the analysts and airhead, air wave celebrities over this vaporous stuff is sad to witness. Didn’t we learn anything from Justice Thomas’s ordeal? Politics will always be a contact sport but this is character assassination and another high tech lynching.

Beth M. writes:

Well, you are entitled to your logic, as long as I am entitled to my FEELINGS!

Actually, I disagree with you and with Richard regarding what constitutes harassment. You and Richard seem to believe that there should be some sort of free pass to be sexually offensive, or perhaps to at least be allowed to make overly personal remarks, etc., as long as you desist when asked to stop or when presented with written notice. [LA replies: I am depressed that you would so distort and misunderstand what I said. I said that a single, unrepeated incident of annoying or even horrible sexual behavior is not harassment. To say that something is not harassment does not mean that it’s acceptable. A sexual assault is a one-time act but it is not acceptable. An act of rape is a one-time act but it is not acceptable. A boss speaking raw sexual language to a female subordinate one time is not acceptable. But it is not harassment. There are words to describe these types of wrongdoing. Sexual harassment is not one of them. Harassment means a persistent, repeated behavior of bothering someone.] Richard also seems to think that it isn’t harassment if you have an ever-changing array of victims—it only rises to the level of harassment if you annoy the same female repeatedly. But I doubt that this is the standard of behavior that Richard would endorse if he were raising a son who kept bringing home those little pink slips of paper from the school office. [LA replies: Again, to say that something is not harassment does not mean it’s ok. It means that it’s not harassment. To commit armed robbery is not murder. That doesn’t mean that armed robbery is ok. The rest of your comment just continues from the wrong headed premise which I’ve already refuted. ]

Whatever happened to the old rule that you don’t attempt to date people at your own workplace, and instead keep your professional life and private life separate? Whatever happened to the old rule that “If it’s not nice, don’t say it.”? I stand by my opinion that a black man who wants to succeed in the business world will be even more careful about this than a white man, and that a married man of 65, black or white, should be able to play almost effortlessly by society’s rules in full automatic mode. I am middle-aged now, and no one bothers me anymore, but when I was young, the experience of being pestered by a black male when I was unaccompanied in public occurred routinely. The more flustered and angry I became, the better they enjoyed it. Even when they knew that the situation was hopeless in terms of their ultimate goal, they enjoyed asserting their power by refusing to break off the unwanted contact. [LA replies: I would describe this behavior as harassment. These men were harassing you.] When I see men over the age of 40 or 50 who think that they are God’s gift to women, and who are perpetually in heat, it is hard for me to take them seriously as businessmen, attorneys, politicians, etc. With black men, this behavior does raise the stereotype that “all they ever think about is sex.” A black man, in his mid-sixties and married, who is running for President should behave with decorum or get out of the race. I also can’t take Angela Merkel seriously with her ridiculous low-cut suits, so I think that I am reasonably fair in this regard.

If you had an employee who annoyed a female co-worker, would you tell him to stick to business while he is at work, or would you merely tell him to stick to business with regard to the one female employee that he has already annoyed? How many “honest misunderstandings” would you allow your employee to have before you decided that no matter what talent and training he possessed, he just wasn’t worth having around? Herman Cain has run a large business. Surely he has had to deal with male subordinates annoying female subordinates. And yet, he seems to have learned no general principles from this experience.

I don’t disagree that a few women are looking to “win the lottery” with an overblown sexual harassment complaint, but the sensible man knows that he is walking through a minefield and proceeds cautiously. Remember that not only are there women who cry wolf, there are women who have been over-socialized since birth to “give people (especially black people) the benefit of the doubt” and that women since the 1970s have been told that they need to toughen up to compete in the business world. This man has had multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior made against him by several different women over the course of his career. I’ll bet that he has offended a lot of women who chose NOT to make an issue of it, or who simply got in his face and told him off, or threatened to report him if he did not stop. A married man who reaches age 65 and who is still making big mistakes in this area of life has something psychologically wrong with him.

Herman Cain is too immature to be President.

Beth M. replies to LA:
Don’t be depressed! I am truly sorry to have taken your words out of context. I do see and understand the distinction that you are making between REPEATED incidents of annoying behavior rising to the level of harassment, and single incidents, even if of a serious nature, failing to meet the dictionary definition of harassment. However, I don’t think this distinction actually means much to most victims of over-sexualized male behavior.

Maybe I’m missing something really basic, but is your concern here that a male asking a female co-worker out to dinner ONCE is going to be accused of harassment (which, by strict definition, requires multiple incidents)?

LA replies:

I’m just trying to get at language which accurately describes the things being talked about, so that we’re not swimming in a sea of confusion. Sexual harassment is not the correct phrase for sexually offensive behavior that occurs once and is not repeated. What, then, would be the right phrase for sexually offensive behavior that occurs once and is not repeated? Here are some possibilities:

An improper sexual overture to a female co-worker or subordinate.

Disrespectful behavior toward a female co-worker or subordinate.

Lewd behavior directed at a female co-worker or subordinate.

I’m not saying that these are the phrases that must be used. But they all have the advantage of being accurate to the thing being described and thus not putting us into an Orwellian realm where words are turned into their opposite (a man makes one racy comment to a woman, and this is called “harassment”), thus destroying our ability to think and speak truly and leading society to punish people for things they have not done.

November 4

Richard O. writes:

Beth M. pays lip service to the phenomenon of litigious females, but I find the ease with which she writes “most victims of over-sexualized male behavior” disquieting.

As Larry makes clear, single instances of groping or rape are actionable. However, my focus on repetition and notice is an attempt to find a way to avoid giving women the whip hand at the first instance of her feeling “uncomfortable” or “offended.” Sensible men do use common sense but, again, Beth’s “knows that he is walking through a minefield and proceeds cautiously” is ominous as it accurately describes the reality of the situation where, without warning of any kind, a woman can decide that she’s been “offended” and inflict all kinds of misery on men who don’t happen to be “over-sexualized” and are in fact innocent. Minefield, indeed. Current reality.

Notice and repetition strike a balance. Women are free to be offended and feel awkward or think a man is “over-sexualized” using any standard, fanciful or otherwise, this-worldly or otherwise, with respect to a particular first instance of hideous male conduct. But they don’t get to spring an ambush on the man with their objective or subjective conclusions. They have to give up their ambush rights for the first male misstep and give some notice or warning which then allows the offender or their intended victim, as the case may be, to clean up his act or wake up to the reality of the mental or emotional state of the woman in question. If it was wrong for men to pay no penalty for even repeated transgressions, it isn’t justice to hand such destructive power to the “victim” who has a hitherto undisclosed hair-trigger sensitivity or need for a greenback salve.

Beth is not shy about drawing conclusions as to the deficient intelligence and judgment of Mr. Cain on what is slight evidence at this point, even when the negative information is surfacing in the midst of a political campaign where ambushes and insinuation are time-honored methods and the appearance of the information suspicious to say the least. On top of which, I bet a dollar that the women allegedly aggrieved by Cain leaped out of the blocks like Olympic sprinters without giving any warning of the kind I’ve recommended. And look at the damage they have been able to inflict then and now.

Beth M. writes:

In response to Richard O.:

I don’t deny that many sexual harassment cases are frivolous, and that men have been left in a position in which they have to worry about being deliberately misinterpreted by someone who is just looking for an easy pot of money. This whole discussion is starting to remind me of online discussions of divorce. Men are convinced that MEN get a raw deal in the court system, while women think that the whole experience of divorce is much harder on them. The reality is that the current divorce system rewards the “bigger user” and penalizes those who try to live up to their commitments, pay their bills, obey court orders, etc.

The sexual harassment rules are similar. Powerful men who behave badly can often get away with it, while unscrupulous women can sometimes succeed in derailing the career of a man, out of spite or greed, who has done little or nothing of an objectionable nature.

You are right that I don’t know any particulars about Herman Cain’s behavior toward women. Maybe I am reading too much into the fact that he has had multiple allegations brought against him over a period of years. Maybe I am assuming that the charges are likely to be largely true based on my personal experiences with some of the black males that I have dealt with over the years. Almost certainly I am failing to give Herman Cain the benefit of the doubt because I do NOT think that he has the gravitas to be running for President, and I think that he should get out of the race NOW.

November 5

James N. writes:

On the definition of “sexual harassment”: Beth M. certainly has made a compelling description of being pestered by a black man on a bus, behavior that a normal person would call harassment. And she, and you, have made the point that black men are more likely to engage in this specific behavior, which we might call “stranger harassment,” to distinguish it from the Cain “accusations.”

In Herman Cain’s case, and the more general circumstance of “sexual harassment” at work, the necessary ingredient is that the contact, between two persons who are NOT strangers, is “unwanted.” This implies the possibility of “wanted” sexual advances.

If a woman (in this case) is in a situation where a “wanted” sexual advance is a possibility, and where an “unwanted” advance is a possible career-ending disaster, she holds in her hands the lives of all the men in her immediate surroundings, and can dispatch them at her pleasure, for any reason or for no reason.

Prolonged, possibly stressful, daily non-sexual contact between men and women, whether in the military, in the corporate world, in relief/rescue situations, and in the medical field will inevitably lead to many potential sexual situations. This well-known (prior to 1965) fact is the reason that male and female occupations were conventionally separated. Another well-known fact is that (most) men have very great difficulty with the ambiguity that exists in their relations with women –that is to say, in interpreting whether an overture will be “wanted” or “unwanted.”

Leave aside for the moment the question of Cain’s judgment and discretion, in relation to his being a married man constantly at close quarters with attractive women.

The truth is that no independent fact-finding person or body can possibly determine whether a man acted correctly or incorrectly in approaching a women and offering some sort of intimacy. Who can know what she said, how she looked at him, what the “vibe” was, prior to her clear and consistent rejection?

If you require of men that they be unaware of the sexual possibilities that women in the workplace present, or that they deny that those possibilities exist, you turn them into eunuchs. And the women around them don’t like that, either.

An unwanted advance is not “harassment.” It’s normal behavior.

Cain got flirty with a couple of pretty girls. End of story. Judge him as you like.

James N. writes:

Beth M. said, “The sexual harassment rules are similar. Powerful men who behave badly can often get away with it, while unscrupulous women can sometimes succeed in derailing the career of a man, out of spite or greed, who has done little or nothing of an objectionable nature.”

Again, there’s a missing ingredient. Beth uses the phrase “powerful men who behave badly” in opposition to “unscrupulous women (who act) out of spite or greed”

The missing ingredient is that “powerful men” are attractive to women in the same way that comely women are attractive to men.

So now female agency comes into the picture. It’s not the case that sexual situations at work consist only of (powerful) man does to (unwilling) woman. Powerful men get lots and lots of sexual and semisexual signals from women. Sometimes they misunderstand. Awkward situations are created.

Beth, the truth is, lots and lots of “advances” are not at all unwanted. It is this fact that makes the single “unwanted advance” so deserving of skeptical reaction.

Beth M. writes:

To James N.:

I am well aware of the missing ingredient, and it also seems obvious that men and women wouldn’t flirt with each other if both sides were not, at least occasionally, achieving a goal that was important to them. I will say that in my own life, I never had a problem at work that wasn’t easily handled, and since I married at a young age, simply telling men that I was married and not interested caused most men to move along. If it didn’t, I did not have a problem being very direct in my response to them, as I considered their behavior (attempting to initiate an adulterous affair) to be beyond the pale.

When I was single, the situation was much more uncomfortable, since the rejection was very personal (I date, but I will not date YOU) and public (everybody in the workplace knows that X asked me out and I turned him down, because X would invariably ask me out in front of at least one other person.) When your career depends upon being able to work successfully with this person, it can all be very awkward. Some men not only are over-sexualized, they have really poor social skills and cannot recognize the difference between some sort of coy refusal, and the sort of response that should signal to them that the female would not date them under any circumstances. An attractive single female in her 20s working in a predominantly male environment would probably have one stressful situation after the next. Some of these women may be vicious and vindictive, but probably some of them simply snap, blaming ONE man for “harassment” when really a number of men have contributed to the distress that they have felt over a period of time. And of course, some women are such delicate flowers of womanhood that they should not work outside the home at all.

As I look back, I have worked with many black men, and never had any problem with them in the workplace, except that they listen to really raunchy music and inflict their choice on others. For many men, black and white, born after 1970 or 75, the world is their locker room, and they simply will not shut up about sexual matters and aspects of their private life that should be kept private.

Generally, if I work closely with someone for a few weeks or more, I have a basic understanding of their political and religious beliefs, their philosophy of life, their ambitions, their level of satisfaction with life, and have a pretty good idea of how mentally stable they are and what kind of childhood they had and how well they currently get on with their own family. I don’t know them intimately, but the broad outline is beginning to be filled in. Could at least PART of the problem be that men see an attractive female and move in for the kill without any sort of due diligence? Some men create a mess for themselves at work by making their interest in certain women very obvious, while completely ignoring others who are less attractive. It creates a lot of bad feelings, for all sorts of reasons: “He thinks I’m not pretty/too old/not equal to his social/educational background” OR “he doesn’t date blacks—he must be prejudiced.” No good can come of it.

LA replies:

No good can come of what?

If Beth means that no good can come from sexually integrated workplaces, perhaps she is agreeing with James’ implied argument that society made more sense when males and females were more socially segregated.

James N. replies:
Beth said:

“Could at least PART of the problem be that men see an attractive female and move in for the kill without any sort of due diligence?”

They are, in other words, men. Is THAT the problem?

November 6

Beth M. writes:

To LA:

I don’t know if work places need to be more sexually segregated. Under the reigning ethos, it isn’t possible to arrange that anyway. I think an important difference from the old days is that “going out on a date” did NOT mean “agreeing to have sexual intercourse” until the 1980s or 90s, depending upon where you live. No doubt there are still some quaint hamlets in which it is possible to go out on a number of dates without providing sexual services, but “dating” is not what it used to be, and in a lot of cities, asking the receptionist to go to dinner with you is pretty much the same thing as asking her to have sex with you. Many men are quite open about feeling ripped off if they pick up the check and the “date” refuses to have sex. Under these rules of engagement, if you won’t stop asking the receptionist to have dinner with you, she may rightly feel sexually harassed.

Modern dating is very similar to an escort service, except that the female doesn’t actually receive any cash, just dinner and drinks.

To James N.:

If you believe that a newly-hired man is entitled to use his new workplace to pick up as many chicks as possible, and that he should still be taken seriously as a valuable employee no matter how much drama and ickiness he is creating for the rest of the office, then I think that you are naive about women and office politics.

Up until the ’70s, or even the first part of the ’80s, most women were married by 21 to 24, and most men by 24 to 26, and you didn’t have half of the people at the workplace trying to hook up with one another. Most men were NOT really looking to mess with a married woman, and in any case, the young married women often left the workplace for several years after the birth of the first or second baby. The current situation of people postponing marriage until they are well into their 30s creates a nasty atmosphere of aging adolescents engaging in a Darwinian struggle for scarce sexual resources. Or maybe not-so-scarce. Pardon me if I would rather not have to watch it all unfold right in front of me, because an increasing number of people don’t have any concept of having any portion of their life that is kept private.

Bottom line: Our society is very sick, marriage is not valued, and I truly feel sorry for the young people trying to build a life for themselves today when decent jobs are hard to find, decent neighborhoods are hard to afford, and true love that lasts a lifetime seems impossible.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 02, 2011 08:18 PM | Send

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