Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A Few Words About "Sexual Harassment"

I spent some 35 years in business and I've no doubt that at some point uttered what I felt was a clever witticism that was perceived, by someone, as "sexual harassment". I don't make light of this, I just think there's a distinct difference between bad taste and boorish behavior and actual "harassment".

The Cain "scandal" dredges all of this up, once again. And, once again, the wide net known as "sexual harassment" will be cast, yielding more socially graceless and slightly tipsy cubicle dwellers during office parties than actual predators. There's two words that explain this phenomenon; ZERO TOLERANCE. These two words, when used together, can turn a wholly innocent (though possibly clumsy) action or phrase into the equivalent of a crime against the State.

Women are at once fierce competitors who have risen to the pinnicles of business and politics, yet also delicate creatures who can be made to "feel uncomfortable" by phrases or actions. Yes, there are true serial sexual harassers and predators in the workplace, but I honestly feel that the reality is far less formidable than the legend. ZERO TOLERANCE has equated ass-grabbing with "you look lovely this morning" and is doing more harm than good.

By the end of my career, I didn't even want to speak to women, and you better believe that I didn't want to be friendly for fear of how it would be taken. Is this a step forward or backward?

I travelled a LOT, often with women. Is it not natural to grab a bite to eat in a strange city with your travel companion? There were only a couple who I would even consider joining for a meal, out of fear. I thought I had the reputation of a gentleman and it was a reputation I wanted to protect. I wasn't a preditor, but there were times that I definitely felt like a potential target should I step out of line, or even be perceived as doing so.

The fact is that women can make men feel like insects with nothing more than a dismissive smirk or snicker. They have a lot more power than many would have us believe.

The true preditors should be punished, severely. As for the socially clumsy, inarticulate boors, quit treating them like criminals, they have enough problems already. And for God's sake, learn to know the difference!

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