Quick, to the Victim-Mobile!
Has someone lit the Victim-signal in the sky? For the last several days my Facebook page has been lit up with women “me too-ing” about how they also were harassed and are as victimy, helpless, and deserving as any would-be Hollywood A-lister flung across Harvey Weinstein’s casting couch.
It’s all “I too was harassed” and “being a woman is so terrible” and “no one is safe” and “patriarchy.”
It might be unkind of me, but my first thought – right after, “Really, I didn’t know Bill Clinton’s staff was that big” – was “No, you were not sexually harassed, because the penalties for that are straight-up horrendous unless you happen to be a big-time leftist. At worst you were inconvenienced by having a pass made at you by a guy you found unattractive.”
This thought could be wrong and unkind. Young and hapless women often allow things to happen to them that are objectively sexual harassment. My first boss in the U.S. always found occasion to have me do some sort of work low to the ground like arrange shelves near the floor when I happened to be wearing something even vaguely low cut. This went on so long I started noticing it but didn’t stop till my late brother-in-law – a burly biker – whom I had told about this insisted on walking me into work and telling the boss how protective he was of me. However, note this was 30 years ago, and I was a newly arrived immigrant from a country in which this was not unusual, and I was a clerk in a mall shop, which is not the level of professional work most of these women do.
Is there a lot of that type of thing? Yeah, there probably is, particularly where young, stupid women work. And it’s probable a lot more goes on where immigrants work, particularly illegal immigrants, whose position is precarious.
But in general, that kind of harassment is only a real problem when it’s an industry dominated by very few gatekeepers. These industries/professions -- the arts, publishing, filmmaking, politics, etc. -- are almost all dominated by the left.
And as we’ve said, leftist guys can get away with anything. It’s like the fact that they’re leftist exonerates them from all peccadillos and outright sins. The left showed this amply with Bill Clinton: their feminism was of the sort that cared more about the right to kill your unborn child than about the right to have a profession without having to pay for it in sexual favors. (Imagine for a second if Bush had behaved like Clinton. He’d have been hounded out of office.)
Oh, and in those fields, particularly as more women rise to prominence, men get harassed too, in the exact same way.
So all these women donning the vestments of holy victim can climb off the sacrificial altar. This isn’t an #allwomen or #yesallmen. This is human.
The story of humanity proves that those with power often took their “payment” in sexual favors. From kings to ministers, history is littered with the excesses of powerful men and their bastards. But if you look up close, the women who rose to power did the same. Queens and Empresses, and even noblewomen, often treated young men of no fortune as toys.
It’s a human thing.
Now, this is not excusing it. It is also human to kill and eat your enemies, and I’ve been assured we don’t do that anymore, no matter how much people annoy you on the internet.
But that sort of bad behavior stops, not by piling on and saying “me too” or worshiping the victims for being so courageous as to admit they let themselves be victimized, but by doing something about it.
What can you do about it? Well, if you’re in one of those industries that are dominated by liberals behaving badly, and you don’t have the courage to give up your career for the sake of exposing the bad people (and honestly, you shouldn’t have to. No one should have to. But the world doesn’t run on “should”), you can build alternative paths to success. Build under, build over, build around so you don’t need to go through the corrupt gates.
And if you aren’t in one of those industries, you can learn to distinguish between real abuse and an unwanted come-on. Real abuse (“you put out or you don’t have a career”) only happens where the guy (or gal) knows he can get away with it. Circumvent, refuse, expose.
As for unwanted propositions? Be real. You’re human. Unless you have three eyes and fifteen elbows, some of them on your teeth, someone is going to find you attractive. Depending on how the come-on is attempted, the appropriate response is a slap (yes, violence does solve something) or a kind “Thank you but no.”
Yes, if you’re a woman it will be mostly men who will give you a sexual come-on. (Though some of us seemed to attract equal-opportunity interest, at least when young.) This doesn’t mean all women are victims and all men are predators.
It means you’re a woman and men are attracted to women, and not all of them are couth in their approaches.
“Me tooing” in comments, writing heartfelt sniveling stories of how you’re still traumatized, and hashtag activism will do absolutely nothing.
If women want to be in the workplace (as they more or less always were, other than a few exceptional periods), sex will rear its interesting head.
The way to get around that is to be a grown-up human being, from “thank you, no” to more forceful and/or formal disciplinary measures, if needed. And in some industries, yes, it might require going another route and maybe paying the price. (In publishing, I’d like to remind everyone there’s indie and some people do very well indeed at it.)
You can either stand on your own two feet and call out the transgressors for their abuses, thereby making sure you leave the professional world better than you found it; or you can choose that "all men exploit all women," beat your chest and don the shining robes of eternal victimhood, which does nothing but perpetuate abuse.
But that victim-signal lighting up the sky doesn’t bring equality or the ability to show your professional competence.
All it does is put more shackles on professionals of both sexes until the work world is a minefield where nothing of import can be done for the forest of safe spaces and recovery groups.
And where the predators – who always learn to navigate the craziest rules and use them to their advantage – rule supreme.