Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Let's Face It, Men Are Pigs


For society, the sexual harassment scandals should be about two things:

1- mending the patriarchal environment we live in to change, over the long-term, the way men think they are entitled to behave

2- (a corollary)- dealing very harshly with instances of men using power relationships to prey on people dependent on them for careers

I used to be an astrologer. I studied it in Amsterdam, took it very seriously. I was good at it too-- really good. It was a gift. But the gift came with a warning: use this gift to further your own material desires and kiss the gift goodbye. So I never charged for my services and I never used my abilities to try to seduce anyone. I can't remember exactly what I did wrong, just that I did do something-- this was like decades ago-- and BOOM! it was gone. I don't know a Gemini from a Mars-Mercury conjunction in Sagittarius any more. No, really, I have books of charts I drew for people and now I not only couldn't draw a chart if my life depended on it, I can't even read them. Fortunately my full-time gig was chef at the time.

Much later I wound up in the music business. Were there men who used their positions of power to seduce aspiring artists? Well... let me think about that for a second. Um... yes, everything single day, in every single way. Kind of horrifying-- and real life in the fast lane. And, yeah, there were some guys who didn't believe in that and didn't do it. (I mostly hung out with those kinds of people, because... who wants to be around a pig too much?)

I'm gay and a couple times men with some kind of career power hit on me when I was much younger. I found those situations easy to navigate and I think most men do, not all men... most men. One guy with huge power tried to sleep with me. I was very friendly, very not freaked out and very firm that that was never going to happen. He could have hurt me real bad, career wise, but he did the opposite. He did the same thing with lots of other young males. He would come on to guys-- sometimes a singer would fall for it and put out, but mostly they didn't. I never saw him react vindictively towards anyone who turned him down. He pretended he'd use his power to hurt some of them, but to my knowledge he never did.

Once he was in the front seat of my car and a much younger guy was in the backseat. He tried imposing, very aggressively, on the younger guy, who was looking for a job (actually desperately looking for a job). The younger guy was straight and very clear he wasn't playing that game. The older guy persisted, even physically. The younger guy rolled up a newsprint magazine and when the older man turned around and lurched at him, he slammed him across the snout with the rolled up magazine-- it was BAM. The older guy started screaming the kid would never work at our company. But the younger guy soon was working at our company and, in fact, eventually the power dynamic changed and it's the old reprobate who comes to him for industry favors now-- favors never granted. Straights can be vindictive like that I guess.

There was another senior executive at one of the top labels who was obsessed with penis size. You know how a normal person shakes hands when he meets someone? If the judged the power dynamic amenable, he would grab a guys crotch to be able to estimate dick size (instead of shaking hands). It certainly would make a lot of people uncomfortable. He got arrested one time when he played that with an undercover cop-- maybe twice if I recall correctly. But that guy never held it against anyone either. He seemed to handle the rejection well, kind of made a big joke out of it-- ha, ha. Once he did it to another executive's young relative, very young relative. That wasn't funny at all and the kind was traumatized. That was bad and there were a lot of social repercussions, though no one called the police or anything like that.

I don't think Al Franken should resign. His career is over; he's a pariah. I bet he doesn't get reelected. My opinion would change if it comes out that he acted inappropriately towards one of the women in his office or who he came in contact with because he was a senator. But slapping a woman's butt? Disgusting and reprehensible behavior. He's a pig and should be treated like one. But forced to resign? I don't think so.

I'm worried that there are going to be tendencies-- we see them already-- for people to look at this kind of behavior through self-serving lenses. There's no doubt in my mind that Alabama voters should refrain from voting for Roy Moore, a Republican-- and I felt the same way before the news about him molesting children came out. Now it's another cudgel to beat him up with. I heard a political woman saying the other day that not only should Al Franken be forced to resign but that he should be replaced by a woman. I see this going into bad places-- as well as good places (see numbers 1 and 2 above. We're evolving as a species and those not evolving are busy dying.

Look, one more thing, before the NPR report. I used to run the concert program at my college. It was the mid-60's. Bands always wanted to score and it was easy as pie for them. The young women concert-goers were very willing. I never quite understood why women threw themselves at band members-- not just sensitive songwriters but even drummers and bass players. Women that persuasion used to always offer me bribes to let them to backstage so they could meet the bands. It was pretty sordid. Years later a band I was looking after, Wire Train was playing at a small punk club in San Francisco, the Mab. Some gross little groupie-- underage-- was making a big scene about getting backstage. The band told me to get rid of her. I didn't especially care one way or the other-- except you always have to do what the band says-- so I told her, nicely, that the band wasn't seeing any guests before the show. That night I had a sleepover guest and we were awoke by a tremendous explosion. And then we both fell back asleep. When I woke up in the morning and went outside, what was felt of my yellow Renault was a smoldering wreck. Who the hell blew up my car? I never did figure it out. But a couple of decades later, that gross little groupie messaged-- a drugged up mess-- asked me if I remembered when she had blown up my car. How many people do you know who can say Courtney Love blew up their car? I still do buy into the phrase though, "believe women." It doesn't mean throw caution to the wind though. It means never thinking about dismissing a woman's testimony (always an integral party of patriarchal society).

But take it easy and let's call out the self-serving we see as well, as this social crisis-- with its opportunities and pitfalls-- continues to unfold. The backlash could be horrifying; it probably will be. This report from NPR on sexual harassment in our country is worth listening to:

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At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

I am woman, let's get that out there.

Sorry, I don't agree about Al Franken. Is that all he did - slap a woman's butt? And kiss her? Really, that is no where near a rape. Back in the day many men did pinch and slap and even kiss without permission. I don't think it is right or nice, it is NOT, but to have someone's career end because of it is absurd. I had my rear pinched and slapped back in the day. While it was rather unpleasant and I did not like it, it was not traumatizing. I cannot imagine being rape and what that must be like - incredibly awful and incredibly traumatizing. To put that in the same category as an ass slap is terrible. Hey - Sean Connery as James Bond slapped women in the movies in the 60's - it was considered okay at that time. Again, I am NOT saying it was okay but that is what guys did back then. Doing so now it would be another story,

But please give Al Franken a break. He is embarrassed and has apologized. It was a long time ago.

At 5:33 PM, Blogger Thomas Ten Bears said...

Fergoodnesssakes, I was only put for a fay hike, five, six hours tops and it's gone from grabbing her butt to slapping it? I grew up in, I live in cattle country and let me assure you this whole story smells like bull shit.

At 5:45 AM, Blogger Paul Lukasiak said...

I suspect that the only men who have never engaged in any inappropriately aggressive sexual behavior are eunuchs (and that includes myself). We live in a culture that demands male aggression and dominance, including in the "relationship" area. Indeed, back in my day, if a woman made the first move, she was considered a slut (and that may well be true in many places today.) And our culture heartily approves of "alpha" males -- the very definition of a man who exerts his power on all aspects of his life.

So its little wonder that "inappropriate sexual behavior" occurs, But there is a line here -- one in which powerful people engage in more than incidental inappropriate behavior. Moore crossed that line. So did Weinstein, and Rose. But pretending that men like Al Franken, and Poppy Bush, should be crucified for taking liberties that our culture has awarded them is ridiculous. They should be censured, and their examples held up as a warning to men in the future regarding their behavior, but that's about it.

At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as I enjoy the company of women, I'm becoming extremely cautious about what interactions I'm willing to engage in with them. It's too likely that accusations will be believed no matter what. No male reputation is going to survive that.

We men went through similar crap after Clarence Thomas was allowed to be confirmed, even though it was very clear that Anita Hill was telling the truth. Then there was the feminine outrage over OJ. And Bill Clinton. Bill Cosby. Et al. Et tu, Brute?

It's an avalanche now. Under such conditions, one stays away from the slopes lest one get buried by the next one. At least the shelters have lots of loving future pets just waiting to be adopted if a guy gets too lonely. And a pet won't lie about you.

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Woodward Sarrow said...

If we men are pigs, your story suggests that women are terrorists. Ugh.


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