Friday, November 02, 2018

Methoughts on Metoo!

The new guy was 44. He had needed a job badly, his assets being down to near zero. Finally, an old acquaintance in a corporate office recognized his name on a resume and told a co-worker to give him an interview in a branch several states away. He got the job and was really happy when he showed up for work.

They showed him around so he could meet everyone. It was a typical New York corporate office. Very diverse. Men and women, all adult ages, various ethnicities, including in management. Got an office and a computer, found the coffee room, got a pass to the office, learned three computer passcodes, one for his computer, one for the database, one for expenses.

They told him he could break in during the first two weeks, but he memorized everything he needed to in an hour and he felt he could start right away and figure out anything he had too as he worked. Maura, the office manager came into his office with a small stack of pamphlets in her hands. Big smile. Giggled a lot.

“Bet you are going to love these.”

“What are they?”

“Office policies. Discrimination, other fun stuff.” She giggled again. He had a feeling she giggled after everything she said. “You’re in luck, actually,” she said. “There’s sexual harassment training at 1 pm in the basement auditorium.” Then she giggled yet again.

He thought about making the obvious joke about knowing how to sexually harass someone, but thought better of it. Not on his first day. He didn't know her well enough. When she left, he started reading. It had been a while since he worked in an office. About 15 years. He remembered a race awareness meeting that hadn’t gone so well. He had wondered then why they had wanted to poke the bear and make everyone uncomfortable. He started getting a bad feeling as he read. Uh oh.

After lunch, everyone in the office gathered around a big table and some stood encircling them against the wall in the conference room. The leader of the meeting, Francine Bangela, was a consultant on sexual discrimination, appeared to be in her 30s and was dressed very conservatively. She did not giggle but smiled a lot no matter what she was saying. It made the new guy uncomfortable and he didn't think he was alone in that. She gave a 20 minute talk and slide show on what sexual harassment meant, and how it wasn’t just touching someone inappropriately or threatening them. It included a whole variety of things that seemed to cause a lot of people around the table to drop their eyes, if not their heads, although others nodded vigorously, and the manager, Mr. Peeble, who didn't seem like he smiled or giggled a lot, mumbled “right, right.”

After she was done, she went  around the table and asked people to talk about times that they felt discriminated against or harassed or where they thought they might have inadvertently harassed or discriminated against someone else. One woman related a story of being assaulted at a job ten years earlier. She was obviously still affected by it. Another woman seemed very comfortable sharing having been stalked by a co-worker and stopping it by complaining about it to management. Others were very uncomfortable speaking and had much more difficulty relating anything. No one admitted to harassing anyone, although two men tried, one almost laughing as he did. It was a failed attempt at humor and almost everyone put their head down. Ms. Bangela continued to smile but said nothing in response, not even the customary, “thanks for sharing.” Finally, after 15 others, it came to the new guy.

“Oooooh, it’s my first day. I’d rather just listen.”

“Oh, no,” said the manager, Mr. Peeble, the serious nervous looking man who had hired him. “It’s the best way to jump into our value system. Go ahead.”

The words "value system," made the new guy cringe. “I’d better not,” he said mildly.

“No, I think you’d better.” said Peeble, fixing him with a self-important stare, meaning, it's not an option.

He groaned a little. “Okay.” He stood up, which seem to lift everyone’s heads a little. What was he doing, some eyes seemed to say?

“Well, though I’d rather not speak, I do give these things a lot of thought. Like everyone, I mean, who is not against people touching someone who doesn’t want to be touched, or trying to force someone to date them for advancement. You have to take a hint and not just at work.”

There were some nods and people seemed relieved that his standing up didn’t mean he was going to say something crazy. Peebles seemed pleased and nodded too.

Then the other shoe dropped.

“But as for the other stuff you said, no, I won’t. I can't. I’m sorry, but I didn’t sign on for that.”

Heads now snapped up and Peeble, looking at Francine Bangela, squinted and bit his down on his lower lip.

“I don’t understand for a second why I can’t say, ‘You look nice today,’ to anyone. Just how can that be offensive? If you should be able to say anything in this world to someone without offending them, shouldn’t that be it? In my experience, when someone compliments someone else, the person getting the compliment is pleased, or most people are anyway. They don’t immediately think, what do you mean - wasn’t I looking good yesterday? And the person in the next office who overhears it isn’t thinking What about me? I’m devastated. And if somehow we've now made people uncomfortable hearing it, then I'm against this - whatever it is.

Can’t we just be co-workers and differ a little or make some mistakes without paying with our jobs. I’m not a young man looking to date anyone. If some young guy likes some young woman and she either likes him back or doesn’t, so what? How is it any different here than at a supermarket so long as they do their job? No, they shouldn’t be dating in the office, but if they meet here – where else are you going to really get to know someone? Does it have to be at a bar or online where everyone knows it is phony? And if God forbid two people like each other and steal a kiss once in a blue moon or hold hands when no in is looking, or if it makes things exciting because people talk about it, and it makes memories sweeter when everyone is older, or they end up a couple, is that really so terrible? I know some people now think so, but it’s normal in the real world, absolutely normal and I still think most people think so. Because, no offense, all this new stuff, all this draconic, you’re fired, you must this, you can’t that stuff, is the opposite of normal. That’s why we have to learn it in these meetings and in pamphlets. Because it’s not normal. It doesn’t make sense. Honestly, it’s a little crazy. And when I was a little younger, yeah, that's how it was.

I know you just went over some stuff that was taboo, but nothing is going to happen exactly like your examples. No one is really going to know how to apply these vague rules except by taking them to some extreme max. If they made sense to anyone, we wouldn’t need these meetings. We’d have learned it in kindergarten. We’d just get another email every year that said, hey, please remember your manners. 

I'd ask you to raise your hand if this applies to you but I know you are afraid to get fired. I don't blame you for that. So don't raise your hand if your afraid to get a text because someone at work might see it and claim it's offensive. See, everyone. Don't raise your hand if you have to look around to see whose is standing nearby before you make a wisecrack. Really, why can’t we make a joke and have it fall flat or be unfunny or not funny to everyone? Is it really so terrible? Because, if nothing else, if you can’t handle a joke that's not meant to personally insult you, it’s your fault and not anyone else’s. Yet people are getting fired over jokes. People are getting fired over one stupid remark because someone else didn't like it. What happened to “please don’t say that again?”

And, I’m not trying to be funny, but, I do not understand about not using “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen” when addressing people because we might be wrong about how someone sees themselves sexually. Some people think there are other possibilities than man and woman or they are a man who thinks he is a woman or vice versa and it's really confusing to the rest of us, even for people who are sympathetic to them. I know, I’m not qualified to talk about chromosomes and I don't have answers and I personally don't really care what bathroom they use. But, if we can’t tell the difference between boy and girls, at least most of the time, so that we can't even use an expression we've used all of our lives, I mean, how are we supposed to tell the difference between harder things like right and wrong and what’s good for the company and what’s not? Can’t we even make the most simple decisions and use the most rudimentary phrases without fear that maybe one out of a thousand times someone will disagree?”

He took a pause and looked down at Ms. Bangela, who had a stiffer smile now. He wondered if when he finished, she would just pretend he hadn’t said anything or if she would suggest to Peebles that he was a mistake and had to go. That would be a shame, because he really needed the money. His first paycheck was going to pay next month’s rent with not a day to spare.

“But, we were talking about sexual discrimination and harassment and I guess I got a little off topic. I guess what I’m saying is I came here to work, and that’s what I want to do. I didn’t come here to meet women or have a relationship or bother anyone or anything else like that. But, people talk at work, and some people do have relationships of all types from lunch buddies to marriage. I don’t know how you do your job or have a life without talking to each other. I can see just walking around my first day people do talk here, do have fun and it’s not 100% work. You can’t do that and not have the possibility of offending someone, and not have the possibility that someone might get mad at someone else or take advantage of someone else, just like anywhere else. And it shouldn't be so scary. 

Well, I’m sure I upset some people today and they wish I’d have just shut up and made some inconsequential remark. And others will wish they said what I just did or maybe they'll tell me thanks for saying it, but you shouldn't have. I’d have been fine not speaking. But, since I had to, I guess I thought hanging on to just a little bit of freedom was more important than paying my rent next month.

I’ll just finish up by saying, and I mean no offense by this - Ms. Bangela, you look nice today. Mr. Peeble, you look nice today. Boys and girls, you all look nice today. That’s all I have to say."


The next month, not surprisingly, he couldn’t pay his rent. Sometimes he felt good about it and even free, and sometimes he just looked online for a job.


I hope you all realize that was fictional.  There’s a smattering of semi-auto-biographical underlay in there, but not the burn-all-bridges speech, which is purely fictional and wish-fulfillment. But, I bet people would be cheering in the movies if some character said some of that. It's probably too long for a movie. And somehow I doubt in real life that they’d actually let anyone finish making the speech at a mixed corporate meeting. Either someone would shout him down, or grab the mike, or maybe someone would start shrieking that they didn’t feel safe.  I’m 99% sure I’ll never have another job, but I’d love to have one if I could just make that speech and get fired for it. To get back to the movie version for a second, I think women in the audience would be cheering too, because, at least many women my age, – and certainly not all, keep telling me they think what is going on is nuts -- too far.

I did leave my last job writing, not about this kind of stuff, but a fairly polite, yet bridge-burning severance letter to the company detailing how hard they made it for myself and my co-workers to do our job and how much like a Dilbert comic strip it had become. Not too long after I learned that the letter, directed to HR, very quickly sped not just around the company, but the industry. Some people from other insurance companies and law firms suddenly knew who I was (“Oh, so you’re the guy who wrote the letter”). At least four employees of my company quit after reading my letter, one guy well over a year later. I’d like to think there were others, but, obviously, I don't know. It was my fifteen minutes of mini-fame. Sometime later I ran into the manager who was responsible for hiring me (the one who saw my name on a resume and got me my interview). Maybe she took some heat for it. She was furious I wrote it. At first. Then she got over it after she asked why I didn't raise these things while I still worked there and I told her I wrote pretty much the same letter every year when they asked for input and it was always ignored. 

But, back to the whole metoo movement. We have had a short period of male domination in our species, if we are counting only homo sapiens, roughly 315,000 years, give or take the last year or so (that’s a joke, folks. Savor it, because, even funny jokes on many topics could be soon be deemed illegal hate speech). 

Until shortly before my lifetime, the workplace, except for times of war or some few fields where women were the mainstay, men were ubiquitous at work or at least as bosses. During WWII, and increasingly in my lifetime, women worked more and more. My mother went back to work when I was a boy, went from a secretary to a full-time college instructor (not quite a full professor, she died before she could get a doctorate), and by the time I was in law school, half my class was female. Men still dominate many fields, but women are increasingly managers, bosses, owners, entrepreneurs in almost every field that isn't very labor-intensive. Even there they've broken in. Even in fields where male physiology makes it exclusive to them (say NFL football), women usually have their own professional league, though without the financial reward. 

Sexual harassment, not to mention assault, at the workplace has always been a problem, as it has been probably everywhere. There was a time, a couple of lifetimes ago, when women barely had legal rights, when men could legally rape (we would now call it rape) their wives and amazingly, there was not much punishment even for their murder. Men are bigger and stronger than women for the most part and that’s usually the way the cookie crumbled. Even in our country and in other western countries some heinous laws took a long time to fall and lasted well into my lifetime. I believe Texas was the last state where a man could legally not rape his wife.

That was then. It’s a lot different now (I’m sure there are some who would contest that – it’s ridiculous to do so). Arguably, women, like most minorities in America, have more rights than men. You can argue that men do not need laws protecting them, nevertheless, the laws setting aside a certain amount of jobs, or protecting women from violence, or from discrimination, either do not exist for the benefit of men, even if written neutrally, or are often applied by courts or businesses so as to exclude men. For some, laws written to benefit women (or other minorities or formerly oppressed groups) are not enough. 

My rule of “up from oppression” states: When any long-oppressed group ceases to be oppressed, reformers are usually not satisfied with equality but wants revenge or to be on top. 

Colloquy: In order to achieve supremacy, the formerly oppressed group will never admit equality, but will carry on as if it is just as oppressed as it ever was until supremacy is achieved.

Of course, you note I said reformers. Most people just want to go to work and go home at the end of the day.

Obviously, sexual harassment and assault still exists and not just in the workplace. But, I feel sure the statistic that 1 out of 5 women will be raped in their life that we so often hear quoted (Nat. Sex. Viol. Res. Ctr.) is grossly exaggerated. However, when I was young, I was surprised by how many of my female friends confided to me that they were sexually assaulted to some degree, some of it pretty severely (I'm not going to say, but you would happily kill the male if you caught them in the act), although none – none – said they were technically raped.  It is very fair to say to me, of course, what makes you think you are being fully reported to by them. That’s true, though they seemed to me to be pretty open about other things that were close enough to rape, I find it hard to believe they would not have told me. So, today I called two women I’m close with who I know have many friends. One was relatively older, one relatively younger – I asked both how many of their friends have confided to them that they were raped. Both thought about it and said “none.” I’m not saying rape doesn't exist or never happened to anyone I know who hasn't said so. I'm just saying I think the reported rate is grossly exaggerated for political purposes. I'll leave aside the ridiculous view pushed by some that women never lie about rape. I doubt many do, but to suggest any group doesn't lie about anything is pretty silly. We know it happens.

The metoo movement started, like many movements, for a good cause, or a great one, in this case, specific outrage bubbling over of a seemingly sex-crazed, perhaps rapacious movie producer, well known in his industry for taking advantage of actresses – Harvey Weinstein. I know, I’m pre-judging the case, and I always say don’t do that, but, when so many women come out, like with Cosby, it’s pretty hard not to believe its likely true.

The opposite works for Kavanaugh – so many women speak of him as behaving like a gentleman and defender of women throughout his life that Ford’s story from 35 years ago, presuming it is true, is at best a teenage anomaly. The second story, by the (anonymous) mother of (anonymous) someone else who supposedly saw him an (unknown) someone else up against a wall – I mean, come on (his gf at the time, said it definitely didn’t happen to her - he was always a gentleman), and the third story of the witness to the alleged multiple drug induced gang rapes has I think has been shown to be completely bogus. Yet a fourth story of rape in a car by BK and judge has come out by an older woman who now admits she just made it up for political purposes and it has been referred for criminal charges. Even Ford’s story ended up so full of holes – not that any Senator really challenged it – that there is at least some reason to believe it might have been political or just the wrong guy. I don’t know though. My guess, and it is just a guess, hasn’t changed that she genuinely believed it was Kavanaugh. I wrote about the matter recently, so I'll leave it there. 

Women speaking out about sexual assault or harassment is still a good cause, one I’ve encouraged with female friends, not to mention my daughter, ever since I’ve been young. Even decades ago the courts intervened to protect women who were being abused, and, sometimes the police did too (sadly, sometimes not when a police officer was the abuser). I couldn’t be more overjoyed of the changes in the sports world, especially gymnastics. That protection may (I hope) finally be afforded young athletes is long overdue. There probably can’t be enough lawsuits. To think of what has gone in the gymnastics world for so long is disturbing beyond words. You’d like to think that parents of athletes in sports other than gymnastics were intelligent enough to be on guard in their childrens’ sports too, but, sadly, I don’t have faith in parents as a group. Not after all we’ve seen.

One question I have asked in commenting online that I do not see many others asking - I think it has been drummed out of people's heads - is where are the parents. All these stories of young athletes and actresses/actors getting abused and I want to know - where were their parents and friends. Apparently, many were saying, shut up or you won't get paid. I know what I taught my daughter. You are always respectful to your bosses and helpful to your co-workers but you do not have to take any abuse, not even verbal. She actually took it much further than I did when I was a kid and it was almost comical the rules she put in place with her bosses (all male) to assure their future good behavior. One temperamental stable owner was not allowed to speak with her, after some nasty attitude, if they wanted her to stay on, but had to address her through his wife or another employee. The only time there was a threatening component to it, a crazed co-worker on email, she addressed management and he was gone instantly. It wasn't that she was a bear. Every boss I ever met fell over themselves to rave about her to me because of her attributed, but she wasn't going to be abused because her parent taught her she didn't have to be. I know that it doesn't mean she might not be abused anyway, but at least she understood she didn't have to be.

Some of these stories out of Hollywood irritated me and a lot of other people. There was a big difference between a secretary in an office who needed her job being groped and an actress trading sex for a role. Some of them were harassed, of course. Certainly, not all of them, and I'm not suggesting they should have to do anything they didn't want to or that a job should be dependent on it. But, if you read the stories closely you have to ask yourselves, what exactly happened? I read Salma Hayek's story several times and I still don't know what her complaint is except that Weinstein (guilty of other things) wanted to have sex with her and she said no. He insisted she write a lesbian scene in a movie she was doing about a lesbian artist and he was right - it was, in my opinion, the only reason at least many people wanted to see it. Her looks and the lesbian angle. It is still not a crime for a rich man to want to have sex with a beautiful woman. It may be obnoxious, even hateful. And I fully embrace her telling him to go f' himself. Which it seems she did, though I'm not sure in those words.

All that said, it was very easy to predict the movement would spiral out of control quickly, and it did. And it is a problem, not a sideshow. We went from toppling celebrity and powerful sexual predators, always a good thing, but very limited, to the spread of a puritanical and completely hypocritical lifestyle in workplaces throughout the country and parts of Europe that I suspect cuts down on very little actual harassment and abuse – because people who do things like that usually don’t care about rules – and makes life joyless and a little crazy for others. It is not just that it has a negative impact, it tends to drown out the important aspects of it. Not a few women have said to me that they have no patience for metoo, within months of it starting.

But it has also added to the trend of crushing things that are pretty important, like free speech and other plain normal behavior. I see it just in the behavior of friends who tell me they are scared at work.  I don’t think most people find it an exaggeration. What you have is a few hundred big-name celebrities or corporate bigwigs losing their jobs, many of whom might deserve it, but some of whom probably do not. Many people have written complaining, not about corporations paying attention to sexual harassment, but doing so without thought, without what is sometimes referred to as “due process” (which really doesn’t apply to companies) but really means “fair play” or at least some kind of reasonable investigation or chance to explain oneself. A good example of this is Matt Lauer. Now, I have no real information about him. Maybe he is not a good guy (honestly, until a few years ago, I didn’t know who he was – I don’t watch network news). But, when the story broke about him, he was gone almost instantly and what disturbed people, was that the only story that did come out, was of his consensual relationship with a younger co-worker who, apparently, out of guilt (she was married), maybe because of other problems she had – or maybe because she felt she couldn’t say no (more on that later), passed out. But, what I commented on in the article on Lauer, and I was relieved to see many others did as well, was – wait a minute – is this it? Consensual sex? Is this why they fired him? They hinted there were other things. Maybe there were and they were worse. But, maybe not. I don't trust the press any more than law enforcement. Well, forgive me for being cynical. Maybe it is him who doesn’t want them out there. I have no way to know. But, how could they have investigated all of this and made a decision so quickly? It smacked of politics, and that is never a good thing. We’ve seen that repeated over and over. Probably, much of the time it’s deserved. It’s still a bad idea. Then, when you get to the comedian, Aziz Ansari, who was crucified by the movement for literally having consensual sex with a woman who came home with him and treating her very decently when she said she changed her mind - you want to scream. 

Definitely not every day, but certainly every week I hear a couple of stories of some sex-discrimination over-kill. Yes, of course, anecdotes, but, just as before we verified that there was one extra-solar planet out there, we knew there must billions or more, and are now just starting to find them, we can know the same about these acts of over-kill. If I hear of a few, there are oh so many happening, even if millions are just people not doing things they'd ordinarily do. In the last week alone (the week I wrote this – about a week ago), I heard the following. You don’t have to believe me, of course, but all of these are true stories – at least, there is no embellishment from me (I can’t speak for those who told me, though I doubt it, or the news stories):

A friend, a middle-age female supervisor in a large company, asked me my opinion on something that happened at her job. She told me that a group of women in her section wanted a male co-worker fired. In her view, he is an excellent worker, very intelligent young man who shows up and never gets in trouble, but also seemed a little bit “odd,” as if perhaps he might be "on the spectrum,” or maybe just very awkward. Their complaint - one of them suspected he may have looked at her legs because she thought she may have been a little too exposed. She didn’t see him do it, but she thought he may have. He said nothing and did nothing wrong that she could see. In fact, she herself verified later that he had to have been paying attention to what was on the computer screen as he remembered it later. The second complainant had no accusation but thought he was creepy. The third one also had nothing specific. That was the complaint. As the supervisor, she didn’t think they had any complaint at all, but they wanted to make one. She sent them to the office attorneys. The attorneys sent them to HR. I don’t know why. Did they even have a clue as to the law? HR, thank God, kicked it back, and said, if you want to get rid of him, you need to find something wrong with his work, as he didn’t do anything wrong. Now, why would they say that? Yes, he did nothing wrong, but why bring up his work? It’s not supposed to be a “now try this” situation.  In my view, the women sexually harassed this guy.

A few days later, I was told by public employee that they were told the new policies included that you were not allowed to tell someone that they “looked nice today” because that implies that they didn’t look good other days and it might hurt their feelings. That found its way into my story. Also, adults were advised not to refer to the children as “boys and girls” because you might offend the one student in the school who had a gender (I don’t know the right word) disorder, dysphoria? And how do we know who is a boy or a girl? Good f’g grief. Of course, we know. At least 99.999% of the time. Right now, amazingly, there is a fight over it, and there is or will be lawsuits, about whether a boy or girl means what it has meant since the words exist. And it is not the same thing as what does “marriage” means. Because marriage was a legal term, a conceptual term, and you can change the law. And while you change a word about a noun, like a horse, you can’t change the thing itself, biologically, not without evolutionary change on a massive scale that will likely take millions of years. So, if the country decides, henceforth boys will be called girls and girls boys, and we actually all do that – then that’s what they will be, but they will still be this thing and that thing, and it is not really going to happen, anyway.  

Obviously, being disturbed at the fear in the workplace of not being able to say “you look nice today,” is not unique to me. It’s not that I have this driving need to say those particular words to anyone. I work in a room by myself for the most part. But, it’s the principle that we are no longer free in many senses and getting less free. There is a movement over so-called “hate speech” that is getting stronger all the time among young people. Do not think if the far left becomes stronger politically that it will not try to enforce a speech code as it has tried on college campuses for years – we already have the blueprint for it. Go to and see what they fight against. Safe zones and speech codes all directed at speech that the left, not the right, doesn’t like. It is very one-sided. Ironically, free speech used to be the reverse, something the left sought to protect and the right sought to restrict. What happened? We already have these things in Canada and Europe. It is not consistent with our first amendment rights. It is a little worrisome for a reason. For the last 100 plus years, the left has eventually won most of the culture wars, and, I agreed on a lot, probably most of it. But, I can't say that is so anymore. I think it reached a plateau where my above rule of "up from oppression" has come into play. The problem is with the right, is that if left to themselves, we'd still be in the dark ages and they've only progressed to where they are by being dragged along by the left. Just as one example. Most conservatives I know are actually fairly open-minded about things like sex and women working. But, that's after decades starting with the '60s of the sexual revolution. Back in the '50s, many people didn't think women should wear short pants, let alone work. But, more on that another week.

Here’s another story. Last week, I read an article that a PBS writer was fired – fired! because he looked at a picture of Meghan Markle and said “Not bad.” Can it be in America that to make a remark that implies a member of the British Royal Family is good looking is so frowned upon that you will lose your livelihood? He didn’t get a reprimand – “We frown on commenting among others in the workplace that might imply royalty might be good looking.” Leave aside how absurd the whole idea of royalty is in the modern world to begin with.  He just didn’t get a dirty look. He lost his job. His job! Because he thought someone who made her living on her looks and in reality became royalty largely because of her looks - was good looking, and said it out loud. What was he allowed to say? "God save the Queen!" "My, how regal?" In fact, it's possible, even though her race is the subject of a news story, he'd have been fired for just mentioning her race.

It's a picture. When we see a picture, we say things like, that's pretty, or nice or wow, she's cute. Save me from ever having a job again. By the way, he has bitterly complained that nothing happened to the women at the station who referred to the princess as “hot.” Of course, it didn’t. Because none of this has anything to do with really protecting women. It has to do with power politics and who is on top now. I mean, shouldn’t the whole metoo movement at the very least bar celebrities, including royalty, from dating or marrying super-models or good looking women, at risk of losing their phony-bologna careers?

Obviously, this isn't just me raging against the changing of the world as I age. Many have rejected the excesses of the movement. The very sexy (although I guess also very old) French actress, Catherine Deneuve, and many other actresses signed a letter, now known as the Deneuve letter, which said, basically, stop! Here are a few great quotes:
 “A woman can, in the same day, lead a professional team and enjoy being the sexual object of a man, without being a ‘slut’, nor a cheap accomplice of the patriarchy.” 
Imagine that: they are actually saying a woman can enjoy being the sexual object of a man and still be a professional! Why not? There’s nothing wrong with it. We would not exist if that stopped. Of course, these were women saying it. There is no reason a man should not be able to say it if we are truly equal. 
“Rape is a crime. But insistent or clumsy flirting is not a crime, nor is gallantry a chauvinist aggression.”
“This expedited justice already has its victims, men prevented from practicing their profession as punishment, forced to resign, etc., while the only thing they did wrong was touching a knee, trying to steal a kiss, or speaking about ‘intimate’ things at a work dinner, or sending messages with sexual connotations to a woman whose feelings were not mutual.” 
Long before, but again accelerated by, metoo arose the crazy idea that relationships between a boss and a subordinate are inherently wrong, because a fraction of them are abusive. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I do know of one relationship between a married boss and a subordinate which ended badly for her, but I can't say at all it was because of any kind of abuse. If anything, she was probably abusive to others in her office who hated her because of her position.  Every other boss-subordinate relationship one I’ve known, was either permanent, or they ended up as friends or with the worker leaving like any other employee who moved on. It doesn't mean bad endings don't happen. It means I do not think it is so common or the results so devastating that it should be banned for all. It is not kids smoking cigarettes or lead paint in walls. I know in all the offices I worked on of very few women who complained of being harassed by the boss, who wasn't firmly put in his place and who obeyed. In one case I remember a woman who cried to me that her boss danced too close with her at a party, but admitted she had flirted with him to get what she wanted at work and felt she asked for it. I saw that too. I didn't blame him and he didn't put his hands on her. For many people, torpedoing all the good relationships to protect a handful of abusive ones is fine. Not with me. My own 28-year old relationship was very traditional – I was her boss, she was my secretary. It took exactly one look for something to click with us. It was at least lust at first sight and the relationship wasn’t long behind. Though I’ve been punished for it in other ways for 28 years (of course, this will be the first post she’ll read in ten years – you know that) I’d love to stand up at a meeting and say, which one of you is going home with me tonight to tell her we have to split up because it was wrong from the start? Of course, like many men my age (many of my friends and I have discussed it), we can think of many consensual flirtations or relationships from decades ago that we have no doubt we'd be accused now of having done something wrong, both at work and in dating. All of us say, thank God we were young then. Most of the women I've talked to about it feel that way too. I can think of one exception but not because anyone ever touched her or tried to bully her into a relationship. It was more of a glass ceiling thing.
Anyway, I got off track as usual. Here’s one from September I enjoyed, I believe out of Britain (could be Australia):   “Mr Sofocleous, 24, from Cyprus, faced disciplinary action last month after he re-tweeted an article by The Spectator on his Twitter titled 'Is it a crime to say women don't have penises?', with the comment: 'RT if women don't have penises'.  

The postgraduate philosophy and psychology student was dismissed from his position at the university after the tweet sparked outrage.
He was also fired from his position as editor of Durham University's online magazine The Bubble, and forced to resign as president of free speech society Humanist Students.”
BTW, as far as I know, "RT" just means retweet. Either he was making a joke or just saying people should retweet the article. Either way, when people are fired from jobs because of a sentence that someone else doesn’t like it’s a problem, unless it is really something incredibly heinous, maybe advocating genocide? We are capable of both having women able to speak out about getting groped and not crushing free speech at the same time.
This one is more familiar, but I really looked into it for the first time. Is there anyone even in the heart of New Guinea who doesn’t know Google, the for-profit company that gets more and more political all the time, and which fired an engineer, James Damore, who wrote a memo – something employees were invited to do – gently (and I mean gently) criticizing Google’s diversity policies, after accusing him of perpetrating gender stereotypes. Was it really out of line he asked that men and women be treated the same?
His post is often called “anti-diversity.” But, if you actually read it, of course, you see he plainly states that he is pro-diversity.  But, he backed up what he offered with citations, write or wrong, and those who criticized him just said it was “hostile,” without even saying what was wrong about it. That’s a problem. Wired Magazine published an article on his “Pernicious” Science. You can read that article, but I don’t think you will find anything actually pernicious. If you are honest as Damore, you will admit your own bias, one way or the other. But, for all the bias in the Wired article, they don’t really show you anything “wrong” about his research. They actually confirm a lot of it, and show how some of his argument can be disputed. Okay, that sounds like most science and most arguments. He was not writing a scientific paper. He was supporting his argument with some science and invited others to disagree. And, again, because he’s honest and asking for an honest discussion, Damore says, of course, he is biased too. I love it when people say that, because so few people do. So much more honest than Google or Wired. And, they fired him for it. 
Damore asks Google to consider its political programming and unconscious biases, not to discriminate against men or any group and to consider whether biological differences between men and women might contribute to there being fewer women engineers. He wants people to be treated as individuals, not members of a group, like male or female. That is, do not mentor women, and not men, because you think there are fewer women engineers as a result of dastardly male behavior. He is a political conservative, a rarity at Google and believes it is why he was fired. I doubt his lawsuit will go anywhere. Interestingly, the NLRB administrator who recommended dismissing his administrative complaint (and he did drop it), said his statements about women created a hostile environment despite being “cloaked” in science – which kind of makes them sound as if they were based in – science? “Cloaked,” of course, is a loaded word. Kind of like “ilk.” People use to show a relationship in a negative context.
Whether you think some of his points are wrong or not concerning the biology of men and women and they may be (I really don’t know – its psychology – can anyone know for sure?), his overall point is hardly outrageous. A claim by a woman at Google that she didn’t feel “safe,” was far more outrageous in my view, certainly a lie, and much more in keeping with gender stereotypes. His being fired was definitely outrageous. It was an opinion. An invited one. It’s not like he was saying blacks or Jews should be exterminated or women should stay at home either. He said men and women are different – something that female psychologists who practiced human sexuality behavior write about all the time. Why is this different?
It doesn’t matter if I give you one or a hundred anecdotes or a thousand anecdotes. It is just like an analogy. It can never be close enough if someone doesn't want to believe it. Yet, people are terrified, literally terrified that someone might see a joke on their texts or email, and they will be fired. Many are terrified of giving an opinion. They are right, they will be fired in many jobs. For a joke. Or for an opinion. Because, as I said to my favorite liberal on more than one occasion – Congratulations, you guys killed America’s sense of humor. It's as if conservatives and liberals have changed places in a number of ways over the course of the last few decades. The conservatives were the stodgy puritans who didn't laugh a lot. They'd be the ones dressing up in masks, trying to stop someone else from speaking. The worm turns, as they say.
I’m never going to work for a company again. I’d probably be fired the first day. The last time I had a job I refused to go to the meeting on race (racial something – Relations? Diversity? Maybe if I went, I’d know). Good thing. There was a huge dust-up, a black woman appropriately used the dreaded N-word and a white woman appropriately used it and, uh oh, well, the black women, or at least some of them, did not like that. I heard about it before I got back and then I just didn’t come back at all. It caused racial discord in an otherwise diverse and racially harmonious office for about a week. I had it happen in a class I taught once too. But, whether it be racial workshops or sexual harassment training, if I went, they'd probably fire me and if I didn't go, they'd probably fire me, if not for being insubordinate, probably for insurance reasons. Something annoying.
Speaking of sexual harassment training, it is now mandatory in New York. We are trying to figure this out, but it seems like it is mandatory for everyone. It is not clear to me if it includes people who work for themselves, which, of course, makes no sense whatsoever. Pisses me off. No, I do not believe that anyone is going to learn anything from it and it would offend me to be told I need to be trained how to behave with people, even if the way I would behave might offend someone here or there. Too bad. People offend me all the time. I get over it. They should too.
I doubt they will ever be found so, but I do believe that state or federal government telling our employers to train us in how we speak to others so as how not to offend them, violates the first amendment, even if I agree with them. I’m not going all lawyer on you, but I might develop this someday. Like my fellow sufferer formerly employed by Google, I’m all for diversity too, but I don’t like, for example, that the New York State Bar now makes lawyers include diversity training (even though I will likely never hire another lawyer) in hiring practices. It offends me that they think I need to be taught that it’s okay to hire a minority and it would really offend me if they try to teach me that I should hire someone of this ethnicity rather than that ethnicity (I actually didn’t have to take such a class this year by virtue of my birthday being one day before the effective date). A constitutional challenge? I’m thinking about it? If I can only get someone to pay for it. I know the ACLU won’t, as they seem to out of the civil rights business and only in the “social justice” business.

Really, I'm worried about us. We've gone from a country that decided that free speech means that we have to hear offensive words to a country that suspends kids for dressing up as scary people on Halloween (like, recently, the Columbine killers) or fires a tv host because she asks why its racist for a white child to be Diana Ross for Halloween - and then she apologizes for it before they fire her anyway. What is wrong with it? It's racist to suggest a white kid cannot be Diana Ross? It smacks of apartheid to say a white child cannot pretend to be a black singer or a black child could not pretend to be a white one. Why in the world can we elect a black president and yet we are paralyzed by the thought that white children should pretend they are black. What's not offensive anymore? 
Okay, I'm done. There's so much more that could be covered, but, at some point you just have to stop and say - next time. The last few days my thoughts started to turn to the all-important topic of – Brady or Rodgers (or Brees or Manning)? Which I think comes next.

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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .