*This is not a reference to all women with liberal views, but to that narrow band of humorless man-hating extremists for whom all issues are vaginal.
A friend of mine has been a successful Hollywood scriptwriter for decades. He hails from New York City and is a very liberal Democrat. In discussing the current wave of accusations of inappropriate sexual activity that appears to be pandemic, if you believe all the coverage, we seem to be of like mind.
Both of us have never been around men who would rape women or even use the power of position to force women into sexual gratification. We had not even heard of complaints by female friends and co-workers alleging such behavior, and my friend spent most of his adult life in the heart of the Hollywood culture. No, not everyone knew what Harvey Weinstein was doing.
In my career in politics, I heard a few rumors about politicians cheating on their spouses, but never the kind of things Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore and Al Franken are accused of doing. Never ran across any pedophiles or even guys accused of preying on kids.
In my Washington days, I knew of one member of Congress who had a few ladies on his staff whose job it was to please other members of Congress and friendly lobbyists. I know that to be the case because I was offered those services by a woman who later brought scandal to a powerful committee chairman. Oh! No, I did not take her up on the offer.
It would never have occurred to me that Weinstein’s practice of popping up naked (no pun intended) at an alleged business meeting was a terribly good approach to seduction. Flowers and candy are the more traditional methods. Or as the old saying goes: “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.”
In a nation of 320 million people, the news is inundated with less than 100 cases of public accusations of improper behavior – and even most of those do not rise to criminal behavior. Inappropriate? Perhaps. Boorish? Maybe. But far from criminal.
My friend and I found agreement in our concern that we are entering a dangerous phase in the battle of the sexes. We are beginning to criminalize boorish behavior – or even worse, normal mating behavior. Or even worse than that, totally innocent behavior.
The photo at the top of the commentary is one of dozens of similar images I found in searching “sexual harassment.” They all depict a man’s hand on a woman’s shoulder, with a look of displeasure on the lady’s face. The problem with these photos is that they transform a perfectly natural touch, that is not… repeat, not … in any way sexual or seductive, into an equivalency with sexual misconduct.
If that is true, former Vice President Joe Biden is just another powerful man who should be heading to the slammer as a serial sex abuser (left). And former President George Bush is giving foreign affairs a whole new meaning. Why aren’t these women complaining? Apparently, 93-year-old President H.W. Bush now has several accusers testifying to his propensity to pat posteriors. If they were too intimidated to slap the face of a president, an angry “how dare you” would have settled the issue.
Such extreme expansion of sexual misconduct is not just a theory. I once came across a group of women protesting in favor of abortion. I approached one to ask the questions: When do you believe the fetus becomes human? Her answer was, “You’re a man, and have no right to question me about abortion.” As I raised my hand to make a follow up point – coming close to her forearm – she said she would cry out rape if I so much as touched her. I assured her that there was not the remotest chance that I would touch her for any reason, but it illustrates the man-hating underpinning of so many radical feminists.
This radical thinking is not new. Decades ago, the feminist took aim at the wolf whistles of construction workers. They said that such action was tantamount to rape. (You just cannot make this stuff up.) Tell a woman who has been grabbed from behind with a knife to her throat, disrobed, beaten and forcibly penetrated that being the subject of a complimentary whistle has any equivalency what so ever to real rape. It is not only stupid, but it trivializes those victimized by a genuine rapist.
It also disregards the many women who are flattered by the attention of men on the scaffolds. Then there are those women who shrug it off as meaningless. In fact, I would say that the women to claim to feel violated are an extreme minority.
The ladies of the left even have a term for the whistle, the wink, the smile and the roving eyes. It is called “street harassment.” In 2010, an editorial on sexual harassment in The Guardian led with this incredible statement: “Violence is not always physical.” Actually, it is. Even assaults (behavior that engenders fear without physical contact) requires obvious physical actions – like having a gun pointed at you. The editorial goes on to argue that those wolf whistles are the gateway to real crimes of sexual assault and rape. Using that logic, I suppose that going out on a date could also be considered a gateway to rape if your date mate is a rapist.
There has always been a line between sexual misconduct and what is commonly known as boorish behavior. If we criminalize the latter, we might as well start building a lot more prisons. Anyone who has attended the proverbial office party knows that a little alcohol brings out boorish behavior of all kinds – and it cuts across the gender divide. The next day, we feel embarrassed and offer up apologies. We do not call the police.
By contemporary radical feminist extreme standards, I have been sexually harassed, assaulted and abused on numerous occasions by aggressive women — and a few men, for that matter. The frequency, however, seems to have declined drastically as I advanced in age. Pity. It never occurred to me to call the police or cry out rape, however.
Trying to plant a kiss on the lips of the object of one’s affection has never been considered a crime even when the effort is unwelcomed and rebuffed. In most cases, such kisses are a matter of “testing the waters.” It actually is a traditional and widely accepted cultural component of the mating game. The person making the first move generally is uncertain of the reaction. In our culture that has been more commonly the role of the man. Of course, that changed with the sex revolution of the 1960s after which women were empowered to be more aggressive – a good change, as I saw it.
The aggressive kiss – and for that matter, the fanny pat — has been memorialized in more movies than you can view in a lifetime. In some cases, the reluctant woman succumbs to the passion and it results in what was seen in my childhood days as a disgusting “mushy” scene. In other cases, the boorish smooch was angrily repulsed with that iconic and well deserved slap in the face. Police were never involved.
Pinching or patting a nicely displayed gluteus maximus is a cultural tradition in some parts of the world. Women going to Rome are more likely to have their posterior pinched than see the Pope. That tradition is not without its appearances in America. For several years, there was a popular restaurant in Chicago’s Greek Town. The proprietor was famous – or infamous, if you prefer – for pinching and patting the lady customers’ rear ends. Occasionally he would bounce a breast with his hand. These were accompanied by compliments and friendly kisses either on the hand or the cheek – the facial cheek, that is. There were never any complaints, and his dining room was always packed with men, women and couples. No one called the police.
In the more youthful dating years, “copping a feel” was a regular objective in the movie theater or in the front seat of a car in some seclude locale. Or maybe not so secluded. In Chicago, cars would line up along the lakefront to watch what we euphemistically called “submarine races.” Things generally went as far as the girl would allow.
In such moments of amore, it was common to exceed the bounds of acceptability. I mean, how do you know the personal boundary until you cross it? Breaching the boundary generally resulted in a verbal or physical rejection that almost always ends the advance. If it does not, that may be a legitimate problem.
Radical feminist had an answer to my rhetorical question about not knowing the boundary — a pre-negotiated written contract outlining what behavior is acceptable from the female’s point of view. The concept that became popular on college campuses is so silly that those contracts became more the subject of humorous ridicule than an improvement to the dating ritual. As far as I can tell, the practice died off on the idiocy of having to commit in advance to having one’s crotch stimulated.
Another scary aspect of the current wave of accusations is the contention that the woman’s word should be believed without question. Sorry, that is not the American way. In criminal matters, we have an assumption of innocence until PROVEN guilty and if becomes a matter of adjudication we have rules of evidence to which we must adhere.
The fact that such charges may lack evidence sufficient to surpass reasonable doubt – another good requirement – does not mean we should throw out the legal safeguards against wrongful prosecution and turn our judicial system into a Twenty-First Century version of the Salem witch trials. False accusation is not uncommon.
Rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual intimidation, sexual blackmail and sexual harassment are terrible crimes and should be met with the full force of the law. To expand their definitions to include boorish behavior and even misinterpreted comments or touches is a disservice to victims of real sexual abuse and a disservice to the comity of a rational society engage in mating rituals. I fear this current wave of accusations – some serious, some not – is yet another example of hyper-political correctness that has made us too touchy about being touched. And that is why I advise young men to stay away from those radical feminists who are more than willing to make ridiculous accusations of sexual impropriety when none occur or were even intended.
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in public policy and political issues. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, and he has served as a consultant to the White House under Presidents Nixon and Reagan. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress and lectured at Harvard University, Northwestern University, Florida Atlantic University, Knox College and Hope College. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.