Have conservatives lost their minds? Am I really hearing talk show hosts picking apart women who have asserted that Herman Cain engaged in sexual harassment? Am I seeing bloggers and journalists trot down the race card road?
I have been utterly appalled this last week. Mind you, and before getting into all this, here’s some of my history: When the Duke LaCrosse story came forth and after examining all the facts, it was evident that the whole thing was preposterous and a disgusting false charge against innocent young men. So zealous about the case was I that two mothers of boys accused of the heinous crimes wrote me emails to thank me for standing for their boys.
The stench of sexual assault and harassment charges lingers around even innocent men and it is an objective evil when this happens. Not only are innocent men tainted for the rest of their lives with doubt, women who have been abused and assaulted fear charging their aggressor for being accused of making up the story.
False charges are an abomination.
True charges denied by a serial abuser are an abomination, too.
We don’t know all the details yet, surrounding Herman Cain’s alleged sexual harassment charges. Here’s what we do know:
So, on this backdrop, I’m going to tell you my story of sexual harassment. Why? Well, it damn sure isn’t because it’s helpful to my cause if I do. Thank God I’m 1) self-employed and 2) don’t give a poop what people think. Most women don’t have that luxury. Just leveling a sexual harassment charge can damage a woman’s credibility. She’s “difficult”. She will be trouble. So, women with legitimate complaints stay quiet. They want to move forward in the work world.
The reason that sexual harassment settlements are sealed are often for the benefit of the accuser, so her reputation isn’t destroyed by a vindictive work peer or employer.
Does that mean that there aren’t women who bring spurious and frivolous claims? Hell no. That exists, too. Obviously. I’m guessing it must happen a lot because the men of Twitter and talk radio have been venomous and utterly certain that all five of the accusers are vile skanks making up stuff to destroy an innocent, innocent man.
Some men aren’t innocent men. I know you’re thinking of your own behavior and thoughts and figuring your clumsy actions and stupid jokes qualified as harassment at some point. Maybe. Some guys have a pattern of being harassing jerks, though. One socially awkward moment does not a harasser make.
Anyway, since many of you reading this know me both through my writing and in real life, I thought I’d tell my story.
Newly married, recent college graduate, 23, and jobless, I took temporary jobs to live. You know those kids bitching at the Occupy Wall Street rallies? That could have been me. Instead, I worked minimum wage plus as receptionists and secretaries. A Theology degree won’t get you a job? The hell you say!
So, my second job after working as a receptionist at a trucking company (all the men were respectful, if crass) was at an architectural and engineering firm.
My new boss was Ken. Ken had a reputation. He had gone through something like 21 assistants in 20 years. Ken picked fights with younger workers. He came to work drunk after his five martini Friday lunches. Ken was old school.
Ken had a glass office. On two sides of his office, Ken stared out at his assistant. More specifically, he leered out at his assistant all day. It was disconcerting, to say the least. He didn’t have to say a word. He just eye-f*cked you all day long.
But that sort of behavior doesn’t rise to the level of harassment–well, at least it didn’t to me. Annoying? Yes. Disgusting to be stared at by a nearly 60 year old man all day long? Absolutely.
Then one day, Ken reached for something on my desk, after walking up behind me, and “accidentally” grabbed my breast.
I was shocked. I told one girlfriend and swore her to secrecy. Why? Because Ken was powerful. I needed the job and he had a reputation for firing uppity help. Plus, the local human resources guy was impotent and cowered before mighty Ken. Ken happened to own the biggest account in the company. He was, he thought, untouchable.
Around two weeks later, the corporate head of Human Resources, a woman, came to town for meetings. We happened to be in the bathroom at the same time and I told her what happened. She asked if I would be willing to go on the record. I said yes. She told me that they had tried to get women to go on the record for years, but they were afraid of Ken.
I knew all hell was about to break loose, but by this time I hated Ken and didn’t care. He was put on probation. Not fired. And as much as I disliked Ken, he hated me with a pure, singularly-focused hatred. He shot laserbeams through that glass at me. Hostile work environment? You betcha!
Now, you might say, “Melissa, he grabbed you, that’s assault! Why didn’t you go to the police?”
Back then, no one thought in those terms. He was just an entitled dick. The thought of going to the police never occurred to me. Even now, the idea seems laughable.
I just wanted Ken to stop. More, it made me really angry that he had gotten away with this for years.
Maybe I should have threatened a lawsuit. I can understand why some women did. As it was, I was interviewing for another job outside of this company and got out and had the satisfaction that the next woman who had to suffer with Ken wouldn’t have to worry (probably) about being abused by him.
What people now don’t understand is the way the work world used to be. Twenty years ago things were entirely different. There was a five to ten year transition where men learned and adapted to women being in the workforce –and not just in helping roles.
Twenty years ago, women were graduating with degrees and just starting to be peers to men, instead of subordinates.
Guys my age and younger have less issues. They’re used to working with women and having female bosses. The dynamics of the workplace have changed dramatically.
The world has changed and a lot for the better. Some things not for the better. But a woman in the work world does not have to deal with the bull women dealt with even a decade ago.
A friend of the former generation spoke of anger between the sexes–strident women and frustrated men. Now, men and women have far more flexibility and amicable relations.
When I see young men decry the spurious claims against Herman Cain and say that a $35,000 or $46,000 claim is small potatoes, I laugh. Really? Most of these cases were like mine and no money exchanged hands at all. That Herman Cain has two, TWO!, cases like this outstanding against him makes me think that there’s more than nothing to this story.
One woman bringing a spurious claim against an executive is absolutely plausible. Two? Come on. And now, there’s five women who have spoken out about harassment or certainly, highly questionable judgement?
It seems that conservatives would at least give these women a hearing before casting them into the lake of fire.
This case is nothing like what happened to Clarence Thomas. I’ll even give Anita Hill the benefit of the doubt and believe Thomas said something about a pube on a Coke can. That is not sexual harassment. It’s stupid. People are stupid.
Now, I recognize that everyone one of these women can be filthy, lying [fill in the blank epithet] manipulated by nefarious Democrat or establishment Republican or biased media sources to plot against a black conservative man.
Can we wait, though, to destroy these ladies until the whole story comes out? Herman Cain doesn’t think so. He’s in full nuke ’em mode.
I understand that Herman Cain can’t prove a negative.
What he can do is this: he can prove positive assertions wrong. He can go to the Hilton and release those room records and prove his accuser is a liar instead of asserting that she is one.
The Anchoress just wrote about what Herman Cain should have said today.
So, maybe everyone can just chill a bit?
Beyond all the media bias (and there’s lots of that), there are people involved. It would be appalling if these women were victimized twice–and at the hands of conservatives who know better.