If only abortion were retroactive, we could suitably deal with monsters like Senator Al Franken (D – MN), who apparently ventured to apply a breast adjustment to a female colleague asleep on the military airplane winging them home from USO duty in Afghanistan. This was back in the day when Senator Franken was a professional entertainer, a clown to be precise, but his career shift to politics has rendered all his prior clowning anathema.
Will he slink out of the senate in disgrace with (ahem) his tail between his legs? Or will he bunker in and wait until the mega-storm of sexual accusation roars on to strand some bigger, flashier fish on the shoals of ignominy?
Perhaps we’ll soon learn that Warren Buffet repeatedly shagged his notoriously over-taxed secretary in the Berkshire Hathaway janitor’s closet.
Or that Mike Pence once bought a diet Dr. Pepper for a woman who was not his wife!
Seems to me this storm could roar and roil on until ninety-plus percent of the men in America are exposed as sex monsters and expelled from every workplace in the land. And then America can feel good about itself again. At least until the bond market blows up, or Kim Jung Fatboy sends a rocket over Rancho Cuckamonga.
But in the meantime, this scourging of male wickedness raises some interesting questions about human dynamics vis-a-vis workplace dynamics.
I (for one, apparently) find it amusing that people are shocked to learn that sexual favors are swapped for career advancement in show business, where sheer narcissism buys more than Bitcoin. The remedy, I suppose, will be to put an end to show business - except its doing a pretty good job of accomplishing that itself, especially the art-form formerly known as the movies. But what about the gazillion other less-glamorous business activities out there: the actuarial suites, the dental offices, the WalMart middle management departments?
I would begin with the recognition that human sexuality is a pretty potent and mischievous component of basic biology. In, say, the much maligned “cis” world of gender relations, people in the workplace surely feel a fairly constant cognitive tug of awareness that they are in the presence of the opposite sex. If nothing else, there is the pheromone thing: the involuntary wafting about of hormonal chemicals that signal sexual possibility, though not necessarily opportunity. It may be considered primitive and inconvenient, but it’s there anyway.
That being so, one obvious question is: what happened to manners, the once-conventional device for managing impulse control.
Narcissism does explain a lot, since that mental state prompts the treatment of other people as mere objects of utility rather than persons on a transect of mutual respect. But in the new sexual harassment workplace regime, a mere polite inquiry of romantic interest might provoke punishment, so that even an unmarried true gentleman asking a female co-worker out for a drink after work might be construed as a firing offense.
Offendedness has gone viral in America these days.
The rewards are a pretty sure thing for the offendee, ranging from simple brownie points to the offendedness powerball lottery of a $32 million payoff for getting seriously roughed up by a wealthy mug such as Bill O’Reilly. My guess is that the suppression of even gentlemanly approaches to women only pushes things to that darker and harsher edge of the gradient of male behavior, where the latent chimpanzee lurks.
It’s inconceivable to me that we are going to eliminate sexual mischief on-the-job as long as men and women are mixed together in work that can be done by anybody. The situation would be less toxic if genuine misbehavior was reported to bosses or to the police directly, instead of waiting twenty years to call up MSNBC, and if asking for a date, or proffering a compliment, were not treated as vile and inexcusable.
Of course, once all the predators are cleaned out of the corporate C-suites, we’ll still be stuck with a spectacularly trashy contemporary culture, saturated with inducements for all kinds of theoretically decent people to behave badly. Mainly what’s being accomplished in the current hysteria is reinforcement of the idea that the weaker sex is just that, but with a raging denial that they require some kind of protection.
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This seemed particularly timely...