A Q&A For the Post-Weinstein Era

(Note: this piece contains general discussion of sexual harassment and assault, so heads up on that.)

Hey there! As most of you know, I’m a dude. And like most dudes, I’ve been watching this whole post-Weinstein era we’re in with some interest. And because I am reasonably well-known on the internet for talking about things, I’ve had people, mostly dudes, contact me via social media and email with various questions about what’s going on and my opinions on these topics. So, let me go ahead and address several of them at once, with the help of my fictional interlocutor. Say hello, fictional interlocutor!

Uh, hello.

Let’s get started, shall we.

I… I just want it on the record that I’m deeply uncomfortable with these topics.

Of course you are! You’re a dude! What’s the first question?

I’m worried that someone might call me out for having been a harassing piece of shit at some point in my past.

Well, let me ask you: Were you, in the past, in fact, a harassing piece of shit?


I’m gonna take that as a “yes.”

I wish you wouldn’t.

Too late! And here’s the thing: If in fact at some point in the past you were a harassing piece of shit to someone, probably to a woman but really, to anyone, then you deserve to be called out on your actions.

But I hardly even remember the incident!

Ah, but the question is not whether you remember it, but if the person you harassed does. And you know what? When you’re harassed, it kinda sticks in your brain. For example, did I ever tell you that some dude once pinched my ass when I was in the supermarket? When I was, like, 11?

What? No.

God’s honest truth. I was standing at the supermarket magazine rack, looking at a video game magazine, when suddenly I feel my ass getting pinched. I turn, and here’s the creepy old bald dude, who must have been like sixty, walking by. And he turns around to see me looking at him, because clearly he’s the only one who could have pinched my ass, and you know what that creepy chucklefuck does? He winks at me. And then he goes off and he does his shopping, or whatever.

What did you do? 

I didn’t do anything. I was eleven at the time, it didn’t occur to me that there was anything to do. So I thought “what a creepy old dude” to myself, and went back to reading my magazine. As far as sexual harassment involving an 11-year-old goes, it really was — well, I don’t want to say a “best case scenario,” so let’s call it a “least damaging case scenario.”

But here’s the thing about that: Even now I remember the event, in detail, from where I was to the creepy wink and smile that dude had on his face. If I can remember that, for an event that took all of three seconds and otherwise hasn’t had a substantial impact on my life, you better goddamn believe anyone who you did worse to remembers what you did. They remember. In detail. Read the accounts of those coming forward with their stories. There’s often a lot of specificity in them. There’s a reason for that.

If you don’t remember (or barely do), it’s possibly because the event wasn’t trauma for you. The person you harassed almost certainly has a different perspective on the event.

But it was a different time!

Ah, yes, the Harvey Weinstein defense of “I grew up in the 60s and 70s and it was a different time then.” I mean, it didn’t really work for Weinstein, now, did it? Partly because in his case claiming that things were different then doesn’t excuse being an assaulting piece of shit now, and it’s clear he was harassing and assaulting women right up until everything blew up in his face. But also partly because, who gives a shit if it was a different time? If you raped someone in 1973, you still raped them, you asshole. Or in 1983. Or 1993. Or 2003. Or 2013. Or now. There’s never been a time that rape and assault and harassment haven’t been rape and assault and harassment.

Yes, but now there’s consequences!

Well, yes, there are. There’s no statute of limitations on consequences, which apparently comes as an unhappy surprise to a lot of dudes. A lot of the mewling about this is, “well, it was so long ago.” It might be! But your actions almost certainly had consequences for the person you harassed (or assaulted, or raped) and may have altered the course of their life — caused them to change their career or quit a job to avoid you, or given them psychological or physical damage.

There were always consequences to your actions. It’s just that now you might have to share in them.

I’m a better person now!

Great! Did you ever make amends to the person you harassed or assaulted? Apologized, publicly or privately? Taken responsibility for your actions in some way? Worked to make right the trespasses you have made against others, to the extent that they wanted or allowed you too? Spoken to others, particularly those who love/like/are in business with you, publicly or privately, about your past transgressions so they aren’t blindsided by your past?

Not as such

Aaaaah, so you were just hoping it would all just go away and you would never have to think about it again.

Pretty much.

Well, surprise! You’re certainly thinking about it now.

Let’s say that before someone else outs me, I decide to out myself and admit I was a harassing piece of shit at one time in my life. What then?

I don’t know. Try it and find out. I mean, I’ll applaud your honesty, as long as it’s backed by actual repentance and effort to change and make right what you’ve done in the past. But, you know. Unless you’re that creepy chucklefuck who pinched my ass 36 years ago (and you’re probably not, I’m guessing he’s dead by now), I’m not the one to be asking about this, because I’m not the one you’ve wronged.

Can’t we have, like, a truth and reconciliation commission? 


You know! Like they did in South Africa, where everyone admits the horrible things they did and everyone gets amnesty.

What an interesting idea. Now, you do realize that particular commission was created after the fall of apartheid, by a government largely constituted by the victims of apartheid, yes?

I’m not following you.

What I’m saying is that before we get to a sexual harassment truth and reconciliation committee, basically the patriarchy will have to be dismantled and then it will be up to those running the new system to administer such a commission. How does that work for you?


Dude, I’m totally ready to ditch the patriarchy if you are!

Let me think about that for a while. 

Do that. In the meantime, yeah. You’re not getting off the hook.

So if I come out and admit to being a harassing shit, I’ll likely get thumped on. But if I don’t admit it and it comes out anyway, I’ll likely get thumped on.

Sounds about right.

Neither of those really sounds appealing.

Maybe you should have thought of that before you decided to be a harassing piece of shit.

I will say this: sorting out your own shit is always existentially better than waiting for other people to sort it out for you. There’s a small but telling difference between “I did this shit, and I was wrong, and I want to do better” and “Now that you’ve found out I did this shit, let me just say I was wrong, and I want to do better.” Neither is going to be cake walk, I expect. But then, you were a harassing piece of shit. You don’t deserve cake for that.

Can I change the topic, a bit, please?

Sure. What’s up?

Let’s say I that I didn’t mean to sexually harass anyone, but someone says I did or said something that made them feel harassed and uncomfortable. What then?

One, an actual apology is good. Two, don’t do it again to them or anyone else.

But why should I apologize? I didn’t mean to do it!

Okay, and? Look, let me be blunt with you: That person calling you out on a behavior that made them feel unsafe? They’re doing you a favor. If your behavior, intentional or not, is creepy enough that someone was compelled to say something to you about it, there are probably others who thought the same thing but didn’t say it — or didn’t say it to you. So the person actually saying it is like a person who pulls you aside and says “Dude, your breath smells like a cat shat on your uvula, maybe partake in a mint,” except instead of halitosis they’re talking about you skeeving everybody out with your words and/or actions. Thank them! In that context, a sincere apology is an excellent thank you, followed by adjusting your behavior.

But why should I change the way I do things? If they have a problem with how I say or do things, it’s their problem, not mine. 

Fine, don’t.

Wait, what?

Dude, I’m not the boss of you. If you want to continue to make people uncomfortable with your presence and actions, then follow your bliss. Just don’t expect to have a whole lot of friends who aren’t complete assholes. Also, be aware that if you keep that shit up, there’s an excellent chance that sooner or later five or six people are going to speak out about you and your asshole actions, all at the same time, and then you’ll be in the same boat as the “actual” harassers, i.e., being an actual harasser, because you didn’t think you had to learn.

Which is fine! Really, it’s fine. Go ahead, do that, it’s fine. Totally fine.

Okay, but what about if I’ve never done anything bad to anyone and I still get accused of harassing someone?

Well, either you did it and you didn’t know, in which case, see above, or, rarely, the other person is lying.

Yes! They’re lying! Yes! That!

My dude, aside from the actual fact that a woman accusing a man of harassment has her life turned into such a shitshow that the bar for her choosing to tell her story is almost unspeakably high (and therefore not fertile ground for lying), I want you to consider a singular and depressing fact, which is that nearly every woman you know has actual dudes who’ve harassed them. They will go after them, rather than outright lying about you. I’m not saying that people don’t get falsely accused of sexual assault and harassment. I am saying it’s pretty rare. Rare enough that when someone comes forward with a harassment claim, it’s worth taking seriously.

But still —

Also, you know? As someone who (still) has jerks falsely calling him a rapist for purely malicious reasons, allow me to suggest that people see through bullshit pretty quickly.

Fine. But I’m worried that I will try to let someone know I’m interested in them and they’ll think I’m harassing them.

So you’re saying your dating strategy is indistinguishable from harassment?

Dude, I don’t even know anymore.

Maybe it’s worth the time to find out and fix it if it is. I’m not, shall we say, active in the dating scene, but it seems to me that communication, consent and the active ability to take “no” for an answer will go a long way.

I’m just worried that every woman defaults into thinking I’m a creep until proven otherwise.

They might! Not just you, to be clear. Every dude.

Doesn’t that bother you? That every woman might start off thinking you could be a creep?

Well, you know. Pretty much every woman I know has been harassed or assaulted or been the recipient of unwanted sexual attention from dudes simply for existing. I know a fair number of men, mostly gay or bi but some not, in the same boat. I know relatively few trans and non-binary folks (although I suspect I know more than many folks), but I know sexual harassment and assault, primarily by men, is a huge issue in that community. Not only men sexually harass and assault, and as they say, not all men sexually harass and assault. But men are the large majority of those people who do sexually harass and assault. And, alas, the ones that do that shit don’t walk around with a neon light saying “Harassing chucklefuck” blinking over their head for easy identification.

So in point of fact I’m fine with women (and others) who I meet for the first time holding in their mind the idea I might be a creeper. I might be! They don’t know! I’m fine with doing the work to make them comfortable with me (the “work” in this case generally meaning “being respectful and kind,” which honestly isn’t that hard), and with the idea that they might never be entirely comfortable with me in this respect. I’d like to live in the world where every dude is not seen as a potential harassing creep, but we’re not there yet, because, as the events of the last few weeks have made abundantly clear, there are still a shitload of harassing creeps out there.

You want not to be seen as potential creep right off? Great! Do the work among men to bring the ratio of harassing shitheads way down. Don’t ask others to do the work that you want to see the benefit of.

One last question.


What do you do when a friend or someone you admire, or whose work you admire, is outed as a harasser or abuser?

You mean, besides be sad and probably very pissed off at them?


With people I admire, I think it’s obvious that I would probably stop admiring them. With regard to people whose work I admire, it would put the work in a different context and at that point I’d have to see how I felt about it. I’m pretty good at separating the art from the artist. In both cases, I don’t find it difficult to hold two thoughts about someone in my head — that someone can be an admirable talent in their field and a harassing piece of shit, or that a particular book/movie/song can be amazing and the person who created it a terrible human.

With that said, someone being outed as a harassing/assaulting piece of shit makes it much less likely I will support their future work, since I generally prefer not to give money to people who sexually harass and assault people. To be blunt, there’s a category of work I file under “to be enjoyed after the creator is dead.” That’s where a lot of work is being sent these days.

With people I consider friends, well, look: I have standards for friends, and one of those standards is treating other people with basic human respect. Sexually assaulting or harassing other people is a pretty solid indication that you don’t respect that person, or the group of people they are a part of. My friends are all grown ups and they live in 2017; they should know better. If they don’t, well. That’s a problem for me.

People I know as acquaintances or casual friends I don’t have a problem casting off; I have lots of other, less problematic acquaintances. I am fortunate that none of my very good friends has been shown to be an assaulter or harasser. If one ever is, that’s going to be a thing. One because they managed to keep it from me for so long, which calls into question the nature of our relationship. Two because I’m going to have to ask myself if there’s anything there in the long path of our friendship that will make it worth salvaging. Maybe there is, although at the moment I don’t know what it might be. I’m not in a rush to find out.

So, this has been a long entry.

Yes it has. We’ve covered a lot of ground. I want to note that some of the ground I’m covering here has also been covered by women (like here and here and here), so if it sounds familiar, that’s why. And if it’s all new to you, maybe you should read and listen to more women, my dude.

Any last pieces of advice?

Sure. Dudes, don’t be a harassing piece of shit, don’t accept other dudes being harassing pieces of shit, and when women (and others) tell you that someone has harassed or assaulted them, believe them.

This is all pretty simple. And yet.

176 Comments on “A Q&A For the Post-Weinstein Era”

  1. Notes!

    1. Bound to be a contentious topic, so I’ve set the Mallet to “hair trigger.” If you can’t play nice with each other, then sit out the thread. I’m thinking of a couple of you in particular who I’m going to give a “one strike” policy on this thread. If you think it might be you, you’re probably right, so, you know. Be polite and stay on topic.

    Also, if obvious trolls wander by and drop their spoor, please don’t engage them, even to call them trolls. I’ll come and root them out presently.

    2. Yes, someone actually asked me about a “truth and reconciliation” commission.

    3. To get ahead of this, the person who says “It sounds like you’re stereotyping men as a class and isn’t that sexist, if you replaced ‘men’ with ‘blacks’ or ‘Jews’ you’d see how awful it sounds” is going to get their comment malleted. Take your dumbass argument elsewhere, frendo. Just because you can’t see its flaws doesn’t mean I or anyone else has to engage it.

    4. Obviously, this piece comes from the point of view of a white straight dude generally and me in particular, with inherent biases and blind spots based on that fact. Other folks, particularly women, I think, will notice various gaps or elisions or even places where I’ve wandered far afield. Feel free to point them out, folks.

  2. Can I add one that I hear pretty often online:

    “But then how will I meet women if I don’t [chat them up on subways, hit on waitresses, hit on women at work]?”

    Women do not enjoy having strangers intrude on their space. Waitresses do not enjoy being hit on. A few women at work may enjoy being asked *once*, but most of them would prefer to keep the workspace work-oriented.

    You are not meeting women; you are *annoying* women. I’ve never heard of anybody who found it sexy when a guy asked what she was reading, pulled off her earphones (yes, that happens), or insisted on talking to her even though she attempted to turn away. It’s not seduction. It’s not flirting. It’s demanding that a woman’s time always belongs to you, at all times. It’s demanding that women be friendly and open with strangers.

    It’s clingy. Nobody likes a clingy guy. You are not doing yourself any favors.

  3. I read a piece today on the premise that all this disclosure and consequence fallout is the beginning of a cultural change, perhaps even the widespread acknowledgment and dismantling of the patriarchy/rape culture. I fear it’s a momentary upheaval that will fade into “oh feminists just hate men, not all men, pay no attention” retrenchment back into white male privilege to ignore what they find inconvenient. See Roy Moore for reference, polling even better among evangelicals(!!).

    Do you think it’s cultural change, or a blip? Will we retreat into the old normal, or will consequences be real and persistent?

  4. The first time I heard the “I grew up in the 60s and 70s and it was a different time then.” excuse from Weinstein’s spokesperson, I looked up his age–and discovered that he was 12 days younger than I am.

    No, that was not “another time” when it came to the things he’s done to women over the years.

  5. John,

    Thank you. I will borrow chunks of this, with credit to you, when asked those same questions.

    I have two trans children and it is hard to overstate the level of threat they feel from many men. And I suspect they leave out a lot of creepy or scary stuff because they don’t want me to worry.

    Other trans people i know are threatened by immediate family, and it seems always to be by men.

    So, yes, we must listen to the voices of people who have been harassed and worse, but the straight white males (and old, in my case) have a particular obligation to publicly condemn and not tolerate these behaviors. If we don’t we are lending tacit support by our silence.

  6. Not to mention harrassment causes economic distress for women. Case in point (mine). As a 17-year-old, a janitor in my building tried to assault me, but I was able to get away and honestly felt sympathy for him as he was not exactly mentally all there. When I went to my boss, she told me to go to her boss. Her boss refused to believe me and I quit the job. I am sure to this day a word from my boss’s boss to that janitor would have stopped this, but I was still the one out of a job….to this day, I have no respect at all for the boss of my boss, who told me to my face: “You’re so ugly nobody would want you.” Go to hell, boss’s boss….and yes, I am married and have two gorgeous children now. Living well is always the best revenge.
    And as for women not trusting you until you prove yourself, yeah, that is a wonderful survival skill. Don’t know of any men raped and murdered by women, did know women who have been raped and murdered by men, may they rest in peace.

  7. You are not meeting women; you are *annoying* women.

    Oh god, yes, THIS!!!

    I’ve never had any confusion about whether I was being flirted with or harassed. (Occasionally confusion over how to handle the latter, sure, but not about which was happening.)

    A REAL easy rule of thumb? Give the individual you want to flirt with the simple respect of

    1. Letting them do their job.
    2. Honoring “leave me alone” body language.
    3. Believing they know their own minds.

    If they say “no,” STOP ASKING. It’s that goddamned simple.

  8. “But then how will I meet women if I don’t [chat them up on subways, hit on waitresses, hit on women at work]?”

    Oh my gosh, YES. I’ve heard variations of this question everywhere.

    And you know, women are in a no-win situation here. If a man approaches us in public – say on the train or at the gym or at the coffee shop and we ignore him, it gets hostile fast.

    “I’m just trying to be nice.”
    “What you can’t take a compliment from a stranger?”
    “Stuck up much?”
    “Wow, you’re a bitch aren’t you?”

    So most of us at least acknowledge with a tight smile and a nod or a noncommittal response, hoping the man will get the message. At which point, by acknowledging the contact, we’ve opened the floodgates and the man thinks it’s ok to just keep on keeping on.

    It’s always about them and never about us.

  9. A couple of thoughts from a different perspective:
    1. I LOL at the patriarchy bit because if there was an actual patriarchy, none of this would come out and the abusers, molesters and sexual harassers would continue doing what they are doing with no worries. They may have been able to get away with it in the past, but that is fast changing and it has happened in a sphere where the rules of the casting couch no longer apply.
    2. With regards to flirting and meeting women, that’s what Match, Plenty of Fish, etc are handy. There is a fine line between trying to chat up a pretty woman on the subway; If she’s interested, she’ll let you know. Otherwise, you are being a slight ass. Is that grounds for having your life ruined? I would think not, but if Madame Hardy is setting the rules, then that might happen in the future. Fun times.
    3, My last point kinda incorporates the fact that there is a fine line between flirting and being a complete ass. In grade school, I got suspended from school because I snapped a girl’s bra and depanted her. It was completely over the line and one that I should have never contemplated doing. I got a severe talking to by my parents and never did something like that again. I did it, because I as an immature kid and other, more popular guys were doing it and not getting in trouble for it. I watched one of the most popular jocks in class do this to a girl, also one of the most popular kids, in public and she laughed and joked with him about it. The difference between me and the other guy is that I got suspended, rightly, for what I did and he never did. I get why the women Weinstein harrassed and possibly raped never stepped forward until now. He had life and death power over their careers. Same with Kevin Spacey, in an oblique way. But I have to wonder if there are other harassers out there that will not get reported because they are popular and the people they did things to do not want to bring things up because they like that person.People like George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio were known for being party animals and womanizers. Did they make a move on someone and not have it reported because the victim is starstruck or is afraid of retribution? Very fine line and I don’t think the fallout from the scandal will be over anytime soon. The amusing, to me at least, is this is the entertainment industry that cast scorn and ridicule on old fashioned traditional values and held themselves out as progressive, open minded and virtuous.Ooops, not so much anymore eh?

  10. Chris:

    “if there was an actual patriarchy, none of this would come out and the abusers, molesters and sexual harassers would continue doing what they are doing with no worries.”

    You’re sort of eliding everything right up until the present moment. Also, I don’t know how to break it to you, a(n alleged) child molester is running for Senate in Alabama and a man who bragged about grabbing women by the pussy is president of the United States, and the congress has been debating a law outlawing abortions after six weeks. The patriarchy is doing just fine, actually.

  11. @Chris, it isn’t clear to me how a woman ruins a man’s life by being indifferent in the subway. Or how, in general, this conversation is about ruining men’s lives.

    > There is a fine line between trying to chat up a pretty woman on the subway; If she’s interested, she’ll let you know.
    Here’s the thing. A woman being pretty in the public is not the same as a woman being available in public. A pretty woman on the subway is there for the exact reason everybody else is: to get from point A to point B. There are places and times where you can assume everybody there is interested in being social. The subway is not one of them. The default behavior on the subway is to leave everybody else alone. So the pretty woman doesn’t get to be alone like everybody else; people get to talk to her just because she’s pretty.

    And that’s not fair. The assumption that a woman — and you don’t have to be pretty — in a public space is automatically available for conversation isn’t fair.

  12. The thing I’ve never understood about the men who hit on random women in public is what the F they think they are actually doing. They don’t know anything about this woman, aside from what she looks like. That a pretty pathetic basis for a relationship. And all she knows about a dude who does this is what he looks like, and that he’s apparently so hard up for female companionship that he’s hitting on random strangers rather than using a dating site or doing some activity that single women interested in men might also like to do. Not exactly a prize, dudes.

  13. I may have been a kid in the 70’s, but I don’t remember rape and assault being OK then. I’m pretty sure it didn’t get OK in the 80s either. Maybe when they’re talking about rape and assault being OK in the 70s they’re talking about any of a variety of war zones (though even there it wouldn’t have been considered OK, just doable)?

    The Golden Rule would seem to be good advice (or the Golden Rule by proxy – would you want your spouse or children treated that way?), but if that were true (or the Golden Rule being followed weren’t “He who has the gold or the power rules”), we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    Are there other crimes to which we default to disbelief other than rape and molestation? Most times, when someone goes to the police, they take it seriously, both in trusting the person’s story until evidence suggests that it can’t be trusted, and in not attacking the victim for the crime (e.g., “He had an expensive house with all that good stuff inside; he was just asking to be robbed.” is not likely to get you anywhere). Even when evidence is difficult to obtain, I didn’t think police or others defaulted to assuming that the person saying something happened was lying in most other cases. The estimates of false accusation rates (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_accusation_of_rape – 1.5-10%) don’t seem to make “They’re lying” a valid default position, and yet it is (or seems to be).

    At this point, I would have thought that exploding heads from cognitive dissonance would be a problem, but it isn’t yet. I don’t know why.

  14. I’ve always found that the best places to meet women are those places where conversation is expected and welcome. I’m a pretty large guy, and it really hurt my feelings when I found out (quite young, I was physically precocious), that women did not automatically see me as a big friendly puppy. I got over those feelings pretty quickly, because the truths that underlie women’s apprehensions were explained to me and obviously WERE truths.

    As far as the patriarchy goes, I think it is indisputably part of our social structure even if I’ve never been invited to a meeting of the central committee. And it is explicitly a part of some evangelical and Mormon groups, which I think underlies the attitudes of Moore’s fervent defenders: they don’t think he did anything actually wrong.

  15. I would love to think “ending the patriarchy” is under way. And I do believe it is, but alas, only in the “the arc of history is long, but it bends toward” sense. Many generations may live and die before it is accomplished.

    Exhibit A: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/07/arts/internetting-with-amanda-hess.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur

    In this episode of “Internetting with Amanda Hess” we explore the exploding popularity of filter apps that allow people to alter their selfie images. And who are they most tremendously popular with? Young girls. Roy Moore-datable-age girls. Who want to enhance their “thigh gap” or make their skin look whiter (yes, WHITER) and smoother.

    We are still teaching young girls that their value is calculated on their looks. Very specifically, on how their looks translate to a male-defined standard of attractiveness and sexual desirability.

    A most determinedly feminist colleague of mine has a young daughter. They were talking about costumes for Halloween trick-or-treating, and my colleague advanced the possibilities of astronaut, shark, and ‘spooky ghost’. They’d kinda-sorta settled on the ghost, and then the daughter did an abrupt assertion of her own identity and decided on “Princess.”

    Carefully not gritting her teeth, my colleague asks “What kind of Princess? A space Princess like Princess Leia? A Winter Princess like Elsa?”

    “A PRETTY Princess!”

    Long water-cooler conversation ensued about ‘where did I fail, etc.’ Consensus emerged that well, the culture’s gonna win some, you have to find ways to deal with it. Oppose it too hard and the oppositional reflexes get triggered.

    To some extent I can understand the bewildered sense of confusion among dudes who grew up with this culture and are now being asked to look past the day-to-day reality into an unknown future. “But how will I ever get to have sex without my rigged game where I know all the rules and they’re in my favor? I mean, even WITH the game rigged my ‘score’ is pretty unsatisfactory…”

    Telling them that THEIR value as a human being will no longer be defined by how many notches are on their bedpost, how sweet their arm candy is, how clearly they can send signals about the power of their male dominance to other males isn’t going to solve the problem for them. How realistic does the alternative look?

    Un-skeeving the workplace is a start. But it’s only a start, and it won’t take unless we’re also working on the rest of the culture.

  16. Senor Scalzi – well aware of all that but we live in a time when the news media has frittered away its journalistic objectivity by sympathetically covering for liberals and progressives while blowing up every alleged misstep of any conservative or Republican as disqualifying. Mitt Romney was supposedly anti-woman for saying “binders full of women”. With regards to Moore, I remain a bit skeptical of the Post’s claims because 1. they endorsed his Democratic opponent before coming out with the allegations and 2. the woman in question has waited some 40 years before coming forward. She had multiple opportunities to come forward while Moore was running for political office before, why wait now? Is it because the allegations are true or is it because somebody with a political agenda convinced her to come forward and is possibly making things up?

    Madame Hardy -I think there is a fine line between trying to chat up a woman whom you find pretty and being a dickish ass. Back in my single days, if I saw someone on a bus or a common space that I found attractive, I would try to make eye contact and smile and see if she was interested in talking. If not, I left it alone. Other people may try more aggressive moves, but if they are ignored, does a federal case need to be made of their behavior? If they are your boss or a co-worker, a fellow student and the behavior continues despite being told to bugger off, then yes the behavior needs to be addressed.

  17. Had a guy ask how he should compliment a woman. Say she’s lost weight and looks good, should he say so? If she’s your wife or girlfriend, yes, otherwise no, unless you’ve been really good friends for a long time. Why is this so hard?

  18. Probably George V Higgins, “A Change of Gravity” (which is about corruption, not harassment) sums it up best. It’ll be interesting to see how the current hysteria plays out; and whether the real underlying problems get fixed. I’ve been hit on by both men and women from time to time (no, I’m not gay) and generally managed to turn them down; OTOH they weren’t aggressive or persistent But that was in the ’70s of blessed memory; nowadays the wisest approach seems to be not to speak to the opposite sex at all. Pity.


  19. > Other people may try more aggressive moves, but if they are ignored, does a federal case need to be made of their behavior?

    Here is the thing. you read Gavin deLong’s *The Gift of Fear*, one of the things he points out is that a person who breaks one social custom may well be testing your limits, to see which other customs they can push past. If you are a man, you figure that if you ignore that person, they will go away. If you are a woman, an alarm just started pinging in your mind: “If this guy doesn’t listen when I say no now, what else will he ignore? Is he going to follow me out of the bus? Is he going to follow me down the street?” If And this is not an unreasonable fear, because every damn day men do just that. And some of those men go on to commit sexual assault. So the woman’s justifiable fear is that this *might turn into a Federal case*. Literally.

    Now, good men don’t intend to do such things. But a woman cannot know, when dealing with a stranger, if he’s a fundamentally decent person with awful social skills, or if he’s somebody who, when having ignored “no” once, will ignore it again and again and again. And that’s why we call it “harassment” instead of “flirting”.

    I’d encourage you to read Karen Healy’s twitter, thread, the one I linked to above, to see what it’s like to deal with a guy who won’t take no for an answer. It’s not fun.

  20. Chris – Ask yourself; “If this were a guy instead of a girl (on the subway or some other public place) How would I approach him? ” If the answer is “I wouldn’t” then you ARE being a creep.

  21. Add me to the list of those willing to toss the patriarchy into the bin where it belongs.
    @ Mme Hardy
    Well said (all of it).

  22. > With regards to Moore, I remain a bit skeptical of the Post’s claims because 1. they endorsed his Democratic opponent before coming out with the allegations and 2. the woman in question has waited some 40 years before coming forward. She had multiple opportunities to come forward while Moore was running for political office before, why wait now? Is it because the allegations are true or is it because somebody with a political agenda convinced her to come forward and is possibly making things up?

    Chris: Posted the above to keep my thoughts so I didn’t have to scroll up and double-check a lot. Not to dogpile on you, but I did want to discuss these since I see a lot of back and forth on it. There are two main items I would take out of the WaPo story:

    1) The criminal child abuse (inappropriate touching with a 14-year-old girl)

    2) The overall behavior of a senatorial candidate, with interest towards younger women (/girls)

    I will agree with you to a degree on the first item; it will essentially devolve into a he-said/she-said back and forth and will depend on which source you trust more. To address your question on your second point, the accuser may feel more empowered because of the recent allegations (such as the person in question that started this). In the WaPo article itself it discusses why she was hesitant and why she came forward with it. Based on Occam’s razor, this is much easier to believe than a “hit piece” for a seat that the Democrats were never expecting to win in the first place.

    That being said, the second item is the more troubling one, and more substantiated. Keep in mind that all of the girls in the story are recounting from when they were teens. Moore, at this point in the story is a 30-year old man, a person in a position of power and respect. To that end, dating (not even necessarily being sexual with!) with children/women of that age is highly questionable, and brings to mind grooming behaviors. This is not behavior that we would expect, especially of someone so proud of his supposed moral rectitude.

  23. Really disappointed George Takei has been fingered (sorry – poor word choice). At first read an “unconscious” man accusing another man of sexual abuse seems tenuous but upon a moment’s reflection I guess that one isn’t hard to figure out. Ouch! (Dang, sorry for the bad imagery.) But in all seriousness, I’m glad it’s finally trickling out and I imagine the floodwaters will worsten for these monsters and I hope it reaches the top. That last you can imagine as you choose.

  24. John,
    I have one worry. (Well, a lot more than one. But this one’s closely related to most of the other ones, so maybe they all just kind of crowd in.) What happens when (I wish I could in good conscience say “if,” but I can’t) the less scrupulous minions of the right (yeah, I know, doesn’t narrow the list of possibilities all that much) decide to take the heat off Roy Moore, or even the P*ssy-Grabber in Chief, by bringing a false accusation against someone who’s a prominent voice against sexual harassment and violence? Do we backtrack on “believe all victims”? Do we hand them a propaganda win by letting them smear one of our own, and through them everyone fighting to wipe out this cancer, with accusations of hypocrisy on top of sexual depravity? Or do we hand them a different propaganda win, by insisting that “our guy” is different and that we don’t believe ALL victims? There are, of course, multiple other ways of dealing with the issue, but those tend to require some level of subtlety and reason, and when this particular hammer gets dropped, I doubt either will play much part in the ensuing public discussion….

  25. The thing about the he-said she-said article is that all of the women in the WaPo article had been telling trusted other people about the assaults for years, long before Moore was running for office. All of them have witnesses saying “Yes, I remember, she told me about that the year it happened.” Furthermore, since the story witnesses have come forward saying “We all knew Roy Moore dated teenage girls at the time.”
    “Theresa Jones used to work as a deputy district attorney in the same courthouse as Moore, and she told CNN on Saturday that “everyone we knew thought it was weird” that Moore dated girls significantly younger than he was.

    “We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall, but you really wouldn’t say anything to someone like that,” she added. ”

    You can see a brief clip of the youngest accuser’s ex-boyfriend from 2009. He says that she told him about the assault at the time, and he believes her because she’s not a liar.

    So this story isn’t “one girl comes out of the blue after forty years of silence”. It’s “four girls told friends at the time, which the friends corroborate.” It’s “district attorney thought at the time that it was weird Moore preferred to date high schoolers.” It’s “a guy who dated her remembers her telling him this story, and saying he believes her.”

    Short of an actual witness, that’s pretty good evidence that the women are telling the truth. To believe the opposite, you’d have to think that they started planting false evidence against Moore back when they were teenagers, back when they had nothing to gain, back before he was a candidate. They told their friends. Some of them told their mothers. Local adults knew that he dated teenagers. Those pieces add up to a pattern, not to “he said she said”.

  26. Chris, if you read the article and what the woman said, the details, and still feel the same, then that’s on you. I believe the woman who worked with Moore at the time (his thirties) and said everyone in the office knew his predeliction for “dating” teenage girls, and (in her words) thought it was “weird.”

    And no, no one called him on it at the time. Rather than question the veracity since she waited this long, isn’t it more likely that the current climate – Weinstein, Spacey, etc. – made her feel safer about telling her story now?

  27. Folks, I think we’ve gone about as far as we can go specifically with the particulars Roy Moore case for now, so let’s go ahead and table that specific discussion until and unless there is new information (other than attempted character assassination attempts on the persons talking about their experiences with Moore), and move the discussion into a more general sphere. Thanks.

  28. Rory, it’s actually happened to several figures who were prominently against sexual harassment. There have been firings and retirements from public life. Google “male feminist harassment” or “male feminist assault”.
    Those are just the items I found on the first page of Google results; I didn’t feel like diving deep.

    Unless you mean “what if a false harassment accusation surfaces”, which is not something I’ve seen in the national press.

  29. Women are told “don’t make a federal case out of it” in SO many ways. For instance:
    “So some guy followed you down the street, telling you he wanted to fuck you. It’s only words, it’s not like he touched you or anything.”
    “So some guy grabbed your ass on the subway. It’s not like he actually hurt you or anything.”
    “So your boyfriend slapped you. You were being awful rude, and it’s not like he left a mark or anything.”
    You can keep going in that direction until it actually becomes, “all he did was rape you, it’s not like he beat you up and left you for dead.”
    We’ve been taught for generations to accept a hell of a lot of abuse. Being able to set boundaries is hard for so many women because we’re taught early on that our boundaries don’t matter, that the boy pulling our hair or snapping our bra is just trying to flirt with us, that being catcalled on the street is a compliment, that men just can’t help but want to put their hands on us. Damn straight we should make a federal case out of it! Loudly and publicly. As for any guy who thinks that banning harassment means he can’t have any conversation with a woman – thank you SO much for taking yourself out of the gene pool.

  30. @Chris

    > With regards to Moore, I remain a bit skeptical of the Post’s claims because 1. they endorsed his Democratic opponent before coming out with the allegations and 2. the woman in question has waited some 40 years before coming forward.

    Except that these aren’t “the Post’s” claims. The Post is just reporting on them but they don’t have the means or the desire to make this stuff up out of nothing. More to the point, if there was no truth at all to any of this, the Post would already be fighting off a law suit, the reporters who wrote the story would likely be fired, and their editors too. None of these people are going to put their jobs on the line to try and swing the vote on a Senate race that no one is expecting to win.

    But it is interesting what this all says about you. You’re the one making the choice to believe one man who has already been kicked off the bench twice, and who has no choice but to completely deny everything if he hopes to get through this. I choose to believe the four women directly affected by this and the dozens of others interviewed by the post who corroborate their stories.

    And why this is coming out now instead of decades ago is pretty simple: people are deciding to finally take some of this seriously and believe women instead of letting scumbags sweep it under the rug.

  31. My best friend’s brother tried to molest me (I’m male) 27 years ago. I pushed him off before “anything” happened and I never told my friend. But like John I can remember every detail 30 years later…and yet nothing really damaging happened.

    On the other side, this is (as far as I know) the closest I’ve come to making a woman uncomfortable:

    My wife often refers to her coworker as her “lovely assistant,” referencing the old stage magic acts (“my lovely assistant will now bring me…”) and so at home we often used the same phrase.

    I was at work years ago and a female co-worker was bringing me a stack of books. I said, “my lovely assistant is bringing me the books I need.” My female boss heard me and called me on it–I don’t remember what she said but I instantly realized I had offended her and my co-worker. I apologized and tried to explain the background behind it but they always looked at me a little differently from then on until I left. I’ve felt guilty about it ever since.

  32. Following up on Madame Hardy’s last comment, I should note I don’t think sexual harassment/assault maps to general left-right politics — some dudes are just shitty, regardless of their politics. The right won’t need to make up stories of harassing/assaulting lefties — actual harassing/assaulting lefties exist and are more useful to them.

  33. What Madame Hardy has said. All of it.

    I’ve started replying to “What are you reading?” with “A book,” in my most let-me-point-out-the-obvious voice, which shuts most men down and hopefully embarrasses them enough not to fucking try that in the future. Because, here’s the thing:

    Social spaces exist. There are dances. Book clubs. Softball teams. CCG tournaments. (And no, you shouldn’t assume any woman there is looking for a date, or wants to date you, either, but it’s at least an environment where you can meet up and talk.) If you want something more immediate…well, I think singles bars still exist, and I know for a fact OKC/CL/Tindr are things.

    And no, women won’t make a literal Federal case out of guys oafishly hitting on us in public, because it’s not illegal. But nobody here’s suggested it should be. But yeah, some of us are going to call that out, and some of us will do so with pictures, and if you think that’s “having your life ruined,” maybe don’t try to hit on women when they’re doing other things. It’s not hard: you see a woman reading, or on headphones, or talking to a friend, and you…don’t hit on her.

    I can have a PowerPoint drawn up if further clarification is needed.

  34. As far as the general feeling goes, I haven’t been worried much about being publically shamed because I haven’t done anything shameful. What this has done, however, is make me think about times when women that I don’t know have seemed extra cautious around me for reasons that didn’t make sense at the time. What this likely meant is that these women had something bad happen to them by some scumbag, it still affected them, and I did something that may have reminded them of that bad experience.

    It may be good that we’re finally acknowledging this bad stuff that has always been lurking beneath the surface, but it’s heartbreaking to think about how early this stuff starts, how common it is, and how little we seem to be able to make things better.

  35. John, this is one of your finer pieces. Bravo! The one thing I might disagree with is saying “Fine, don’t.” Not that you’re wrong, but you’re using subtlety and wit when maybe a clue-by-four is called for. Or a cluetronium rod dropped from orbit.

  36. I’ll admit to being highly skeptical when a Straight Male Feminist™ casts themselves in such a positive light as the arbiter of All That is Good and True.

    It’s very uncomplicated to portray all these sexual assaulters as these stupid, oafish, cartoon villains, as this imaginary Q&A does. It’s much harder to admit that many perpetrators are often otherwise perfectly normal, average men. Like how statistics show us that harassment occurs most often between friends as opposed to perfect strangers, and the prior relationship will often remain intact.

    I raise an eyebrow at lines in the sand, where men posting condemnations such as this one have obviously cast themselves and their social circles as Totally Above All That: “I am fortunate that none of my very good friends has been shown to be an assaulter or harasser.”

    Fortunate, indeed. Or perhaps unwilling to admit that these behaviours are EXTREMELY common, and the odds are you yourself and/or your friends have been perpetrators of harassment at one point or another. But you have simply built up the idea of harassment as a foreign concept so much in your minds that you fail to recognize the faults in your own pasts.

    When you immediately jump to go “join me against these other men who are TOTALLY UNLIKE ME,” all I see is a deflection of personal responsibility. Confronting this behaviour is a relatively simple matter when we make it out to be the “other,” existing only as the distant, far-off removed people. What’s much harder is admitting to the mistakes in the mirror.

    Frankly that, I think, is the more important step for men to take in this situation. Recognize the culture and behaviour in yourself and those around you, don’t just wag a finger at the stranger across the street. And honestly, I think you can do more to boost women’s voices then tangentially mentioning them; maybe give them the blog spot to hear THEIR thoughts.

  37. Another Laura – There is a very clear line (in my mind) between criminal sexual behavior and boorish behavior. I have a three month old daughter and at no point will I tell her in the future to accept physical/psychological behavior from a boyfriend/partner. At no point will I encourage her to accept a random guy on the street telling her that he wants to fuck her or touching her without her permission. My wife and I will teach her to speak up for herself and confront the behavior. What I’m referring to making a federal case is not making every single complement, wolfwhistle, catcall into a criminal complaint. I will teach my daughter to simply say, I’m not interested,you’re a wanker, go spank yourself instead. And, if they persist in being an ass, then the heavy artillery comes out. (BTW, I’m not a Brit but I do love their aphorisms :P)

    With regards to Moore, the problems I have with the accuser’s credibility is threefold: 1) She told her mother in detail about the alleged assaults a decade after they supposedly happened, right around the time Moore was either running for a judgeship or was in office. Why did the mother and daughter report at that time? 2) She allegedly told a boyfriend about it in 2009 and allegedly planned to confront him at his office around that time. Why not report then? 3) Does she have any sort of corroborating evidence? Did she keep a teenage diary, can she describe what the house looked like on the outside/inside etc? If she could describe the house it would establish her credibility better because its easy to go back in public records, etc to verify something like that. I work in federal law enforcement and this is a really weak he said-she-said case. But this accusation was never meant to get proven or disproven in the court of law, it was meant to make Moore’s campaign crash and burn. And I would point out that yes there are leftist harassers and assaulters, but they tend to get and keep the protection of the media and the industry they work in until either their use has run out or the volume of evidence/accusations becomes indefensible. Witness Bill Clinton, serial sexual assaulter. You had NOW, et al defending his criminal behavior because he was politically useful and still is.

  38. Okay, I will totally understand the use of the banhammer on this comment because it is so unlikely to be well-received by the particular individuals to which it applies. Those to whom it doesn’t apply (and the first group above would be shocked to know how big this second group is) know it doesn’t apply to them.

    Rules of patriarchy dating:

    1. If I’m attracted to a woman, I have the right to talk to her based solely on my attraction to her. Any random woman could be the love (or lust) of my life. If I’m scared or nervous, I may not go ahead and talk to her, but I COULD. I have the right at all times, in all places, in all situations. My attraction to a woman trumps all other social rules. If she’s scared, that’s all to the good; there should be a little spice of fear of what I *could* do–it makes women more compliant and also more grateful when I don’t do what I could do.
    2. She may reject me (although she SHOULDN’T, because I like her and that’s all that matters), but she doesn’t have the right to be rude or even just decisive. She has to be friendly and appreciative of my attention no matter how she feels. This may send me the wrong message and I’ll keep on going thinking I’m welcome, but the bottom line is that it’s a woman’s job to emotionally pamper any random male who approaches her. Honestly, it’s rude when they just say No and go back to their book without a shred of thanks for the effort I put into interrupting them and giving them an unsolicited compliment.
    3. My word as a man is worth the word of any infinite number of women. I’m to be believed over all of them. Just like the Bible says, one male witness is worth four female witnesses, and even then, bitches probably be lyin’ if they disagree with me. Sure, rape is bad, okay, but think about me: If guys are getting called out and suffering consequences for sexual assault, then we’re back in “women are people” territory. We gotta avoid that political correctness s**t so women will stay in their lane.
    4. I would never say directly that women are prostitutes, at least not in front of them, but I never let them forget for a minute that if I buy them dinner or give them a ride home, they owe me sex. The pleasure of their company is worth nothing to me; I’m after sex and nurturing and they’re there to provide it.
    5. A woman who has sexual value to me needs to be welcoming and friendly. Well, all women need to do that, really, but especially the ones I want to sleep with. The ones I don’t want to sleep with should still realize it would be a huge favor to them if I ever slept with them. They should be hopeful accommodating and flatter me–really make the effort to get with me.
    6. If I follow the rules–whatever rules apply to my particular circle and society–I am owed a woman. If I don’t get one, I am pissed and resentful and it’s their fault. Remember “welcoming and friendly”? It’s not welcoming and friendly to refuse a man who wants you just because you don’t want him.
    7. Use of “crazy” applies to all situations that upset me in which women exist. Also, the word “bitch.”
    8. If I have a thought about a female stranger’s outfit, looks, whatever, it’s *essential* that I share this with her. And she is to be grateful and appreciative of my thoughts. She didn’t ask for my opinion?–well I didn’t ask her to come out looking so good today either. It’s a two-way street. Either way, though, it’s my opinion of her that matters and she should be glad to hear it. Welcoming and friendly, ladies. Welcoming and friendly.

  39. @Chris, you’re treading on some very thin ice here, especially after John asked us all politely NOT TO DISCUSS MOORE ANYMORE. Exactly what part of that are you not allowing yourself to understand?

    Why don’t women want to report harassment? Because dudebros like you wouldn’t believe them 40 years ago, you wouldn’t believe them 30 years ago, you wouldn’t believe them 20 years ago, you wouldn’t believe them ten years ago and you don’t believe them today. Now imagine that instead of being J. Random Dudebro, instead you’re a very powerful ADA in a Southern, sexist, white-supremacist “Christian” town where women are taught and expected to be ‘subservient’ to men at all times.

    That’s why women don’t report. You prove what I say is true with every iteration of your mansplaining. Do us all a favour and take it away.

  40. Terri:

    I think the satire aspect of your list is pretty clear.


    lol, no. You’re free to go back through the site and see all the places I address my own failings on these matters, starting with the piece linked (the second half is the relevant half for this).

    Chris, et al:

    I thought I made it clear we’ve tabled that particular line of discussion. From this point forward I’ll mallet further comments out.

  41. [Deleted because continuing line of discussion I already asked twice to be tabled. No worries, gottacook, you can elsewise comment — JS]

  42. Another reason Weinstein can’t pull off the “different times” canard: If he was just a fun-loving guy living in a freewheeling time when everybody was cool with this except a few prudes, and he had no idea that he was doing anything wrong, what in hell was he doing hiring private investigators and security firms to dig dirt on the women and reporters to intimidate them and keep them quiet? Ronan Farrow’s follow-up piece makes plain what a vile, repulsive waste of human skin Weinstein is. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a shocking read:


  43. Chris, you seem not to have any real sense of the reality a woman faces if she tells a man who is catcalling or otherwise creeping on her to go spank himself instead. Catcallers don’t generally take “no” very well. It’s amazing (and terrifying) how quickly the list of “compliments” they’re showering on you turn into curse-filled threats, and that’s if you’re LUCKY. If you aren’t, you’re running the risk of being assaulted or even killed (this isn’t a hypothetical, women have been killed for rejecting men’s advances). So as much as I’d like to be a badass woman and teach my daughter to be the same, the risk calculation involved in telling a cat-caller off is a far more dire one than you seem to acknowledge, and I strongly dislike the implication that if women were just “tougher” in their responses to catcalling men, they’d get different results.

  44. @Chris,

    You can teach your daughter whatever you want to teach her, as a white male. But I hope your daughter is smart enough when she reaches the appropriate age to not think that your bravado on her behalf will keep her safe. I hope she’s smart enough and aware enough to be able to judge the situation she’s in and understand that sometimes you can’t tell some “wanker to go spank himself” because doing so will put you in physical harm. Or cause you to lose your job. Or lose a promotion. Or lose a client. Or all of the above.

    Your complete and utter ignorance of what women face on a daily basis, combined with your insistence on doubling, tripling, and quadrupling down on every single male asshat position (from “why did they wait so long” to “she just needs to stand up for herself” to “lib/dem agenda”) shows every single one of us exactly what kind of person you are right now.

    I desperately hope for the sake of your three month old daughter that you become a better person at some point. And I desperately hope that she never needs to rely on you to support her when she comes to you 30 years from now and says “you know, 8 years ago this happened and I’m struggling” and you say to her “Why didn’t you say something sooner? You should have been stronger than that.”

  45. Dear Chris,

    Twice (at least) now you engaged in the false conflation of sexual harassment and “criminal sexual assault.”

    In any case that does enter the system as a criminal case, the accused does get all the benefits of rules of evidence and etc. Those have not been suspended.

    Social opprobrium, such as occurs in most cases of harassment, is not a matter for the criminal justice system.

    If by bizarre chance you are attempting to argue that the incidents of harassment and inappropriate (and even potentially criminal) sexual behavior *should* only be dealt with as criminal justice matters, that is so deeply and profoundly wrong that I will not attempt to make the argument here. I suggest you Google for previous Whatever columns on “how to report sexual harassment” and “codes of conduct” and educate yourself on that subject. It is not even open for debate. Formal criminal (or criminal-model) judicial systems are NOT appropriate for dealing with harassment.

    Please, don’t attempt to argue otherwise, if you are so minded. You will only make yourself look exceedingly stupid. It is the sexual-more equivalent of a flat-earth argument.

    On the subject of Moore, you (and everyone else) have been asked to shut up. You should understand that under John’s rules of engagement, that does not mean “shut up after you get in the last word.” Nor does it mean “well they didn’t shut up so I don’t have to shut up.” It means “shut up,” and trust John to handle the others who don’t follow his edicts.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 

  46. I should note that this thread is quickly becoming a very cogent example of women explaining their life experience to men (or in this case a man) and men not listening.

  47. What Whitney says. I feel free to be snarky and dismissive with idiots, basically, because I live in a state with very strict firearm laws and am usually in public places with lots of other folks around. (Also because I secretly cherish delusions of being Conan.) It’s not something other women can, or should, be expected to do–which is one of the reasons I try to be very snide and very public when I do it.

    And while we’re at it: the whining about “well X did stuff to Y and she was fine with it and cleeearly this is because he’s popular waah waah nerdboy tears” overlooks three possibilities:

    1) X and Y may have had a pre-existing relationship where that’s okay. There are men who *can* make dick jokes with me; there are male friends who can even grab my ass or snap my bra, because we’ve known each other for years and have established a level of consent there. If J. Random Dude tried any of that with me, he’d be in huge trouble.
    2) This assumes that the act X did to Y was exactly the same as the one A did to B, in precisely the same circumstances, with precisely the same amount of leadup, social cues, etc. There have absolutely been times where the same physical act or line of conversation was fine in one circumstance and not in another, because the other person was okay with it and the person initiating was perceptive enough to know that. (This is not something I’d recommend as a strategy: “perceptive enough to know X” still often has a pretty high failure rate. But still.)

  48. @Whitney and Kara – with regards to publicly calling out a catcaller, was there not a woman on twitter who posted photos of herself with her catcallers, calling them out for their asshattery? And in foreign countries? Seems there is a lot empowered women can do publicly to call out bad behavior and not get killed for doing so. I also plan on teaching my daughter to defend herself if attacked; I’m a strong believer in having a 2nd defense right to defend yourself or others in danger (I can hear the mental anguish and cringing now…..) By being an engaged parent, I hope she never has to come to me and tell me something terrible happened. Like I’ve said in multiple comments previously, if there is a reasonable explanation as to why any sexual assault victim stayed silent (i.e. fear of losing job, being threatened with harm, etc) I will tend to believe them, but there still needs to be credible evidence to support their accusations. We can not throw away the rule of law because we want to support the victim. Otherwise, who is next when someone decides to accuse you of misdeeds because of other possible motivations?

  49. I apologize for not reading everybody’s comments, so this may be redundant. My concern is that the definition of harassment may not be well defined (no standard test). It is strictly in the eye of the victim. I think physical harassment is pretty clear, one doesn’t go about grabbing private parts and think that that is OK. Verbal harassment is also pretty clear, though some harassers might not get it, or think harassment is OK, it’s not.

    But as we get to finer points of harassment, are there things which may not make sense (he looked at me) and how should that stuff be addressed.

    I attended a “sensitivity” class where the instructor started out by saying every man was a potential rapist. I can understand that fear, it is legitimate. But it is also an insult to the men who would never, ever, be a rapist. I am not smart enough to sort all this stuff out. I just treat everybody with respect and that seems to work.

  50. @ Scalzi and also a clear example of wahhhh we don’t want a reasonable debate about motivations, et al. Newspeak dictionary plainly sayeth Men bad, get with program!

  51. Chris:

    While not gainsaying your ambition to teach your child self-defense (it is a laudible goal), you should possibly look up “tonic immobility” as it relates to assault and rape.

    Also, again, more explicitly, dude, women are telling you things right now, in this thread, about their lived experience, and your response to it is to minimize what they are saying to you in order to privilege your assumptions. You’re not listening, merely “debating.” It’s not a great look.

    David Hajicek:

    Why is it an insult? Given that the very large majority of rapists are men, and very few of the rapists advertise their status out loud, and again, most women have some experience in being sexually harassed or assaulted by men, acknowledging that from a woman’s point of view that any man she meets could be a potential rapist isn’t insulting, it’s a woman’s lived experience. I could easily argue that choosing to be insulted by it, and it is a choice, is expressing that your own feelings are more important than their safety.

    Accept that men are very often a threat to women, and they can’t tell from looking who is a threat. If this bothers you, help to change that baseline fact.

  52. I have seen genuinely false accusations. Not many. But I’ve seen a case where someone presented (in secret) their evidence for a “sexual assault”, and the fact is, what they presented is, *even if it’s completely true*, not even close to anything like that standard. (It involved someone repeatedly checking for consent in multiple ways and clearly indicating willingness to drop the thing; it also involved no physical contact, or cybering, just a conversation that was TMI by most people’s standards.) So, yes, this is an actual thing.

    It’s rare enough not to be a realistic concern, MHO. That said, I’m still basically in favor of innocent-until-proven-guilty as a legal standard, and something approximating a presumption of innocence even outside the courts. But I also think it’s pretty reasonable to, at the very least, conclude that people are in fact doing the things that multiple witnesses say they do.

    As to whether this is necessarily universal in everyone’s social circles… I suspect that it’s actually much more common in some circles than others. There’s a lot of preconditions you need for it to be a recurring and ongoing thing, usually.

  53. @Chris

    “If there is a reasonable explanation”.

    I’m so glad that YOU get to be the arbiter of what is a reasonable explanation, how mentally or emotionally strong a woman should be to get the benefit if YOUR doubt, and what YOU determine constitutes credible evidence.

    And since you said you’re in law enforcement, I pray to whatever god or gods might exist that those women who require help for sexual harassment, abuse, or predatory behavior have someone other than you to go to.

    I’m out.

  54. One year ago, my employer (a D.C. nonprofit) enrolled all employees in an “e-learning employee harassment training course as well as training for the new hotline, 1-800-97-STOP-IT.” The course was provided by an outside vendor, EZ HR Virtual Training. It covered all the bases well, I thought, and didn’t take long to complete at one’s desk. (To my knowledge, it wasn’t decreed as a result of any particular incident.)

    I would be interested to learn what proportion of employers (of, say, 50+ employees) were ahead of the curve nationwide, versus the proportion that will belatedly be making an effort to uniformly educate employees about basic “how not to even give the appearance of harassment” rules. There could be some worthwhile journalism highlighting regional differences.

  55. The poor ickle hurt feelings of men too egotistical not to take “hey, a lot of men are violent and women aren’t telepaths” personally are, on my priority list, somewhere between waxy yellow build-up on my floors and the declining proportion of peanuts in Snickers bars.

  56. Uleaguehub

    My daughter had firm views on being a pretty princess, and regarded me as fulfilling my maternal duties by providing her with hand made and embroidered princess clothing, regalia etc so she could wander around being admired.

    She still likes me to assist on the wardrobe front, but she is now in the final year of her 14 year medical training, having passed all her examinations over that period early, with very high marks. She leads the resus team as well as guiding the junior doctors for whom she is God.

    She is the iconic Medical Registrar, who walks in a slow and stately fashion through her dominion, exuding ‘Keep Calm and Carry on’, unless someone has gone down and she’s running like hell for the crash cart when normal rules are suspended.

    I do not think you need to worry about the pretty princess bit; Bella loved it, but has gone on to do a career which doesn’t feature in the remotest wishes of the stereotyped patriarchy…

  57. @David,

    No one ever anywhere has classified “he looked at me” as harassment or assault. You’re engaging in that typical male reactionary response described in posts way up at the top of this thread – along the lines of “how will I ever be able to even look or talk at a woman again if I don’t know what constitutes harassment?”

    As far as the second half of your comment: I suggest you read this blog post on Schrodinger’s Rapist. Read it carefully and think about it from the point of view of a woman, if you’re able to.


  58. Chris,

    I want to address something in your comment:

    >I watched one of the most popular jocks in class do this to a girl, also one of the most popular kids, in public and she laughed and joked with him about it.

    I, of course, don’t those people at all, but we can’t make the assumption that she was OK with it. She might have, but laughing and joking cannot be proof.

    One of the rules for girls is to be “cool”, and part of being “cool” is being sexy to the popular guys and going along with “the jokes”. Other girls can and do enforce the behavior: “I can’t believe you complained!” “OMG, he’s so hot, he could do that to *me* all he wants!”

    And if she was attractive (which the popular kids generally are), she may have already had many years of practicing deflecting unwanted attention with a smile and a laugh.

    Again, I don’t know, I’m just saying you can’t make assumptions.

  59. @Seebs: I’ve encountered that too. Not even assault or a direct accusation of harassment, but a girl who’d hit on men and then get all “oh my God, he’s such a pig, he was all over me” when they flirted back–without, in the incidents I saw, even minor escalation. White Knight Asshole Guys then took this as permission to get on the case of a man more popular than they were, and it was a whole situation.

    I loathe the girl who started it for many reasons, not least because she’s now the reason I have at least one point of “…well, but…” warring with my general Always Believe Women principles, and I hope she eats a succession of bees.

    But yeah, I think out-and-out fake accusations are super rare.

  60. @Seebs, when people worry about “false accusations” they usually mean “She said I raped her and I didn’t even touch her.” That is, the woman is deliberately lying. “She accurately reported what happened, but it wasn’t harassment” isn’t a *false* accusation; it’s an *incorrect* accusation at worst. “False” implies that somebody is lying. The woman you describe wasn’t lying; she was just (taking for granted that you’re right) wrong about what she could reasonably expect from another person.

    When I see online conversations about harassment, it is my experience that some men immediately divert from “harassment is bad” to “What if I, personally, am falsely accused of doing something wrong?” Those people are emotionally much more concerned with “What if somebody is falsely accused?” than with “What happens if somebody is harassing another person?”

    Which… interests me.

    As far as the legal standard for getting a conviction goes, it is much, much higher than “The DA believed me.” A lot of women have been raped and, for one reason or another, never gotten the legal conviction or even the legal charge. It happened to a relative of mine. The guy *confessed* and the authorities still didn’t get a conviction. My relative was still raped. But if they talk about being raped in public, they’ll immediately be met with “Well, why wasn’t he charged with anything?” (Note: my relative isn’t genderqueer; I’m just blurring descriptions a bit.)

  61. Maybe it’s time to haul out the Gender-Based-Differences-In-Perspective explanation, The Short Form:

    “A man’s biggest fear is that a woman will laugh at him.
    A woman’s biggest fear is that a man will kill her.”

    Second biggest fears? Man: She’ll make fun of me to her girlfriends. Woman: He’ll trash my career, destroy my reputation, harm my family members, etc.

    Guys who can’t grasp this differential are never gonna be able to wrap their minds around the “why didn’t she say something (sooner)” conundrum.

  62. @Chris, you are doing a really cringeworthy job of combining brand-new-parent “MY baby is going to behave perfectly due to my great parenting plan” cluelessness with J. Random Dudebro deafness towards women.

    It’s pretty sad, because you’re choosing to prioritize your cherished myths about sexual harassment over changing your beliefs in a way that might help protect your daughter.

  63. Also, again, more explicitly, dude, women are telling you things right now, in this thread, about their lived experience, and your response to it is to minimize what they are saying to you. It’s not a great look.

    Great opportunity to learn something, to be honest.

    After six plus decades of life on this earth, I still find I learn a lot if I keep my mouth shut and let women talk about their experiences (even, or maybe especially, in areas where I thought I had a fair amount of knowledge).

  64. “It’s pretty sad, because you’re choosing to prioritize your cherished myths about sexual harassment over changing your beliefs in a way that might help protect your daughter.”


  65. [Sneaky attempt to reintroduce a tabled discussion deleted. Chris, it’s become obvious that inasmuch as you have all the answers, your presence here, while undoubtedly instructive to others, has become superfluous. Thank you for your participation; you may go now. You may otherwise comment on other threads here, however — JS]

  66. Boy am I glad I’m a man. I would rather worry about being a harasser than worry about being harassed.

  67. Althane:

    Or any of Kevin Spacey’s victims, for that matter.

    Men are most likely to be harassers, yes. But they can also be harassed. Often by other men, sometimes by women.

  68. I was the feminist of my high school. I was “smarter” than most of my male peers, and there was a rumor going around that I was. “dyke.” Even though in that place and time, we really didn’t know what a dyke was. I know a friend of mine told others that I could bench press 270, and meant it as a compliment.

    So, would anyone believe me if I had told them that four times between sophomore and senior years I had been jumped by classmates? That, even though it never got as far as actual rape, I was well and truly traumatized? That even though I knew those boys I and not done anything to encourage them? (Because, in that place and time, “date rape” was not yet a known term.)

    My friends, my teachers and my classmates saw me as one of the strongest girls, in body and in character, in the school. And I was 28 before I could believe that a man would want to get to know me, have a relationship with me, and not just be trying to get you-know-what from me. The one teacher who saw the first one happen just yelled at *me* to get back to work. (The boy strolled away with a grin on his face. His mother was one of my mother’s closest friends.) I never told my parents. It took me twenty years to tell my sisters. I still have nightmares about these experiences. And for years, I was simultaneously convinced that I was alone and that all women went through this. I was so relieved to find out my baby sister hadn’t.

    I’m not afraid of the stranger, the unknown man of color on the empty subway train at night. I’m afraid of the white men in my life, so afraid that I learned how to disable a man before I learned how to date one. I’m not surprised that a fourteen-year-old (hey, she was my age in the same decade) was unable to go to her mother, to the police, to anyone in authority. Like me, she was probably beating herself up because it must have been her fault, and she was humiliated, and she was terrified. These events are a large part of my lifelong struggle with chronic depression. I dearly hope she got through it better than I did.

    The only benefit I can take from the entire experience is that after a series of assaults on my college campus I was able to gather all the first year students in our dorm and give them a crash course in street smarts and self-defense. (Including what they called “Cricket’s don’t-fuck-with me walk.”)

  69. Regarding princesses: they’re not so bad. Jerramy Fine wrote a book called “In Defense of the Princess” pointing out that princesses are powerful–probably the most powerful female image for a girl. Princesses can get shit done, even the ones IRL are doing charity work and advocating and whatnot. It’s not bad to be a princess, even a pretty one. Princesses and queens are female avatars of power and lord knows we need more of those. (Disclaimer: dressed up as Leia this year, and nobody’s saying she’s useless.) As for pretty, that’s a power in itself, even if it’s a downer to think that pretty = having more power.

  70. Regarding “All men are potential rapists” here’s my existentialist perspective on it. All men, even good ones, are potential rapists, just as I and every other able-bodied human being is a potential murderer. I could go into the kitchen right now, pull a knife from the block I just bought, and stab it through my husband’s head. He’d never see it coming! For various reasons, I choose not to do this, just as most men manage to overcome the stereotype that they’re sex-raged monster and choose to not be a rapist.
    It’s valuable to keep in mind the bad things we could be doing, because it helps us notice when we are doing these things unconsciously. I’m part of the community mental health system, which can wind people up in some awful gears of systemic oppression. I am unavoidably part of that system, just as men are unavoidably part of patriarchal culture, and being aware of the harm we can do is the first step in avoiding that harm.

    On a more positive side, it’s also valuable to observe why we choose not to do the horrible things we technically have the power to do. I don’t murder my husband because I value life. It gives me a chance to think, “am I applying that value to areas of my life other than not murdering my husband?”

    I’m taking a moment to think “why don’t I sexually assault people?” Because despite being a cis-woman, I could. The answer is “because I believe everyone has a right to feel safe around other people.” I think I’m doing pretty good with that, but it’s always nice to reassess where we are with our values, rather than getting defensive about our unexamined actions and beliefs.

    It’s okay to feel insulted, but are you going to choose to dwell on that feeling, or are you going to move past it towards something useful?

  71. Getting beyond morality, I am going to give my prediction on how this moment in history is going to play out. With the high volume of accusations, one or two are going to be demonstrably false. These false positives will be enough fodder to empower a reasonably large backlash. Combine this with the public’s fatigue with any outrage or serious issue over time. (And as we’ve seen in Alabama, there are a large number of people who are still immune to the pressure that’s coming to bear.) We will go back a bit, but overall we will have gained a few notches of progress with respect to where we were six months ago. Five years from now we will another “watershed” and baseline with move a bit more towards real progress. And so on.

    Maybe this really will be a break through and a moment of fairly permanent change. That would be great and it’s possible. Just as an historian, I don’t think it’s likely that this is the “One.” Though systems do hit points of no return, so one of these days…maybe even today.

  72. @gottacook:

    Most business above the “small” size have had sexual harassment policies on the books, and required sexual harassment training for years, if not decades. You know why? Because if an employee sexually harasses someone, and the company has no policy against it, the company can be held liable in a lawsuit. Corporate lawyers don’t like the idea of the company being liable for the actions of J. Random Asshole employee, so big companies cover their legal asses by having training and policies that say “Workplace sexual harassment is (a) illegal and (b) not tolerated here. Here’s the definition in case you’re easily confused.”

  73. I really wish more men realized these things. We teach our daughters how to avoid rape, how to protect themselves from sexual harassment. Then we blame them when it happens if they don’t ‘do something about it’.

    Teaching them how to avoid these things is putting the onus on them to avoid it, and that’s just not possible without teaching our sons to respect the word ‘no’ and how to deal constructively with rejection.

  74. Go ahead, try and harass me. Anyone who who tries will very quickly learn where they stand with me. Assault or rape could happen I guess but statistics are in my favor. Plus I am 6’1″ 220# I have never been harassed. So yeah, I am glad I am a man. The closest I have come to anything like harassment was when I was a kid. Early teens maybe. I was at a park and a man tried to pick me up. It took me a couple of hours after I left to finally figure out what had been going on. Nothing traumatic but it stuck with me.
    On corporate harassment policies I believe they are more about covering for liability than actual protection of employees. That takes ethical leadership not training seminars. I worked at a small automotive startup. After the founders floundered the Board brought in a C level guy from Detroit. He demonstrated his frat boy mentality by turning the monthly birthday party into a chance to haze whoever had a birthday that month. During the mingle portion of one of these gatherings he proudly demonstrated to a few guys how he could put his left hand in his pocket and pull it back out of his pocket without his wedding band on. I am sure he had been through corporate harassment training and I am equally sure it didn’t do a damn bit of good beyond some level of plausible deniability for the company.
    The sad thought that crosses my mind is that this will be a big deal for a couple of weeks or maybe months and then return to the same old crap. There have been similar shit storms in the past. Locally it was a former Mayor of San Diego. Bob Filner, a democrat who also served in the US House of Representatives for 19 years. There where multiple victims in the year or so he was Mayor, makes me wonder how many unreported cases in the nearly 20 years he was in Washington. Also proof that both the left and the right have their slime balls.

  75. Small correction: “The Gift of Fear” is by Gavin de Becker. A useful book, emphasizing that you should trust your instincts when you feel threatened.

    Self-defense (as mentioned above) is much more complicated than just learning technique (or teaching your children technique). The choice to physically resist is dependent on many factors, and on a general basis women in particular start with a likely disadvantage in weight, muscle mass, experience with fighting, and willingness to injure.

    The one thing that is always true is that the choice to resist or not belongs only to the person involved and that their choice should be supported. They are making the best choice they can at the time.

    I’ve heard people (not always men) respond to hearing about someone’s choice not to resist with fantasies about “what you should have done is (extensive detail).” This is deeply disrespectful of a person sharing a traumatic experience.

  76. Madame Hardy: “Those people are emotionally much more concerned with “What if somebody is falsely accused?” than with “What happens if somebody is harassing another person?” Which… interests me.”

    [Graph punching at someone who can’t respond deleted. Greg, see below — JS]

    These people have a romantic view of use of force common to people who don’t have a lot of experience with it: that it will never go badly *for them*.

    The armchair rambos who get their use fo force training from comic books and superhero movies and have little or no experience with real world violence spiraling out of control, they do not see a problem with harrassment, because in their mind, the solution is easy: tell them to fuck off and if they give you any static, get in their face, and as it escalates toward lethal levels, simply pull out your concealed carry and prepare to shoot them.

    THey are more concerned with false accusations because their go-to solution of “continuously escalating violent response until the problem goes away”, no longer works. Rather than getting that their go-to solution was always a fantasy and finding ways to relate to the world more realistically, they simply want to find a way back to their cozy, romantic view where they can fight their way out of any problem.

    You can hear this romantic view anytime you hear someone ask a rape victim to explain why they didn’t just fight back. You can hear it anytime you hear someone ask a victim of harassment why didn’t they report it immediately and achieve perfect justice in the moment rather than wait years to bring it up.

    They’ve never had to face a situation where they were on the losing end of systemic power imbalance, where their go-to response no longer works or actually makes things worse for them. But they fear false accusations might do it. And they want to get back to their romantic view where they fear nothing in the world.

  77. @ Kara Hudson
    Thanks for the link to the Schrodinger’s Rapist post – it deserves to be more widely known.

    @ Stevie
    Congratulations to your daughter!

    @ Scalzi
    Thanks for effective moderation/malletting. It was a great post to start but the comments are making it better.

  78. Greg:

    You know better than to thump on people who I have invited off the thread. It’s rude. For future reference, if you can’t generalize your point without punching at someone who can’t respond, don’t make that point.

  79. IsabelCooper said “Forgot the third point. Ah well.”
    Not laughing at you, but laughing sadly. ALL my arguments go like that.

  80. I have a couple of moments in my life I look back on and wonder: “Was I a harassing piece of shit?” They haunt me because a) I feel in my heart I’m not that guy, and b) to this day I don’t know for a fact how the other person felt, and I have no way of asking.

    I taught band for over 20 years. There was one class of beginners–6th graders–that I taught to play flute. One of my daily routines was checking hand position because that’s a thing, and I would check when they held the instrument vertically and horizontally. In the vertical position, the left hand (very important they get it right for proper playing) is just below the chin. One of the girls was about three years ahead of her classmates in physical maturity.

    You can see where this is going.

    I had taught this way for years without a problem, but while I’m standing over her visually inspecting hand position, she uses her right hand to pull the front of her shirt tighter and refuses to look at me. It wasn’t until after class it hit me that she thought I was looking down her shirt. I never said anything to her about it later because I worried talking about it would validate her perception, and her perception was not my reality. She quit a few weeks later without a word, and I felt like shit. I wonder to this day if that still affects her.

    That was about twelve years ago. One thing I learned from that was to be careful with my eyes. I have a habit (growing worse by the year) of watching people’s mouths when they talk because I have an issue with sibilants. When I talk to women, though, I keep my eyes firmly on their eyes unless they are close friends who understand my hearing issues. This has me asking them to repeat a lot, but that’s better than making them uncomfortable.

    Anyway… I think it’s possible to be perceived as, at minimum, a *creeper* without actually being one. A harassing piece of shit, on the other hand, probably has no “but, ifs’.

    For those who wish to debate my relative shittiness… I won’t be engaging on either side of the argument.

  81. @suewrite says:
    “Had a guy ask how he should compliment a woman. Say she’s lost weight and looks good, should he say so?”

    I typically don’t limit myself that hard. If I see a woman socially or professionally often enough to see the difference, I’ll mention something. My self-imposed requirement is that I do the same to men. Same tone, same affect etc. I have never been conscious of a time when this has been viewed as other than friendly compliment by either gender.

    I have harassed before, and want to apologise, but due to circumstance all I can do going forward is to be a voice of witness and correction. Doesn’t bring closure, but seems appropriate.

  82. @clancyweeksblog says:
    “When I talk to women, though, I keep my eyes firmly on their eyes….”

    From my life…
    Back when I was ca. 21 or so I made a friend who happened to work in a topless bar. Got invited to visit, stayed for about a year. Because I was willing to use your skill I ended up being that guy at the back booth who all the girls hung out with when they didn’t have an actively donating client. Stayed in touch with one lass for over ten years, and never did date or sleep with any of them.

  83. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never been a creepy harasser. No one has ever said that I have, (again, to my knowledge). And yet, I worry about it. Happily married, so I’m not worried about meeting women, but I still worry about being perceived as harassing (which is the same as harassing, since I don’t get to make that call, yes?).

    I have trouble making and keeping eye contact. As a result, when I notice it, I work extra hard to maintain eye contact, but if I don’t notice it, my gaze will slide away in some random direction. I worry that losing eye contact will be perceived as creepy, I worry that my efforts to hold eye contact will be perceived as creepy.

    I supervise several women at my job. I really don’t think I’ve ever done anything inappropriate, but I always worry that something I do will be perceived that way. A year or two ago, a message went around suggesting that someone had been accused of something inappropriate and would be called in for discussion/training, and I spent a day or two wondering if it would be me.

    There’s a line in the article about being falsely accused and knowing that one is innocent…but I’ll never know that. I have a horrible time remembering faces and names, so it’s possible that someone I’ve never met could mistake me for someone else, and I wouldn’t be sure.

    Reading my words above, it strikes me that they could be read as my complaining about the current situation, and that’s not the case. I fully agree with the ideas about what men should do, I just was very uncomfortable with the idea that being uncertain about the situation implies that I’ve done horrible things.

  84. I’d say don’t comment about weight loss in general, unless you know someone’s specifically trying: eating disorders are a thing, some people lose weight due to serious/chronic medical conditions they don’t want to disclose, etc. But saying “Hey, I love that shirt!” or “Did you get a new haircut? It looks great!” is usually fine all around.

    In general, and while I can’t speak for all women: mistakes happen, and most people know that. We don’t know what’s a mistake and what’s deliberate, often, so there are horrible situations like the ones described above, where–yeah, I don’t know what the right response would be, but I don’t think anyone was in the wrong as such. Just…the world we live in is often horrible for many well-intentioned people, and I blame the patriarchy.

    @Granny Roberts: Ha! Right?

  85. What Madame Hardy says. The creep alarms go off for anyone when personal space is encroached on, but the creep defcon level shoots up astronomically when there’s the sexual predator aspect added.

    For me there’s the outrage of the male presumption of right. I AM NOT A MAN’S PROPERTY.

    Geez, the presumption that women don’t even own their own bodies, that men have more rights to women’s bodies then the women do themselves? !@#$%^&! There are no words. There is just OUTRAGE that has been kept under wraps for a lifetime because we have to make a living, we have to do all the things that just being alive requires.

    I can’t speak for all women, but for me most definitely it is the theft of my rights to my Self that the sexual predator (and ok the patriarchal attitude in general) that is the problem.

    The sexual dance is not the problem. The sexiest men are the ones whose respect for women is implicit in their every action, not just their sexual approach. It’s so nice and relaxing and refreshing to be liked for the human being you are with no hidden sexual agenda behind a relationship. To be considered a person of value for more than what a rubber dolly can provide.

    Which brings up one more thing: The accusations that women lead men on. Let me repeat: the sexual dance is not the problem. Lots of women are as interested in that interplay as men are. BUT the initial interplay often reveals an attitude of presumption of right on the part of the male and that’s where it’s no longer a dance, it’s a changeover to ownership claims. That’s where the creep-o-meter starts heading for the red zone.

    Sorry my thoughts have not been presented as well as they might but just allowing myself to even write this much gets my adrenaline pumping and I am getting too pissed off to keep thinking about it.

  86. > There’s a line in the article about being falsely accused and knowing that one is innocent…but I’ll never know that.
    I think you make a good point. The degree to which you have confidence in your past actions is highly inflected by your level of anxiety. Me, I can obsess for decades about my past mistakes, and days (at least) worrying about whether I’ve made a mistake. I try to focus on “Whether or not I did, I won’t do it again”, but my hindbrain sometimes won’t play ball.

    As far as “will this make a difference”, I’m old enough to remember Anita Hill. She did make a difference, because she made people think about and talk about sexual harassment. (And, boy, howdy, was it not fun talking to a lot of the people who disbelieved her.) Bob Packwoods’s investigation and ultimate resignation was another moment. Check out this article from 1992. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1992-12-20/news/9212200244_1_harassment-lobbyist-capitol-hill In my life there have been a cascade of teachable moments about harassment, and I think each of them has moved the ball forward a little bit. I still have brainfog, but one of the Americans fighting for civil rights (I think; please cite if you remember who it was) said that you have to keep fighting even though you know the change you’re fighting for won’t come in your lifetime. The same goes for sexual harassment. Every time somebody converts from “Well, guys are like that” to “That was wrong” is a victory. There are a lot more people who believe either “That was just wrong” or “I could get caught doing this” than there were when I was a teenager. Not enough, but definitely more.

  87. While I’m not in the dating market and almost certainly never will be again, it seems to me that online dating apps and services have made the meeting-people problem way, way easier than it was when I was growing up. Even if you’re not suited to meet people at singles bars or dance clubs (and many people aren’t, God knows), you don’t have to mess around with risky and irritating behavior like chatting random women up in environments not really intended for dating.

    Like John, when I was trying to figure out dating as a young man, I did some stupid puppy-dog crush behavior that, while probably not classifiable as harassment, was at the very least mildly irritating. I think part of the problem was that mores were actually changing at the time and it was difficult to figure out what to do. But if I’d knocked it off entirely I’d have lost nothing.

  88. Scalzi: “You know better than to thump on people who I have invited off the thread”

    Sorry. Was trying to accurately paraphrase something he said, not thump, but better safe than sorry i suppose.

  89. And as always we wind up with a whole slew of men posting “what about this” and “what about that” and “but I’ve done this in the past and now I’m wondering if it was creepy” and “I don’t even know how to talk to women anymore”.

    Men, guys, dudes, quit expecting women to tell you how to behave.

    If YOU think it might be perceived as creepy or predatory … DON’T DO IT.

    If you did something in the past that you think might have been creepy or predatory or taken that way because of an inadvertent action, note that awareness and make a point to not do that thing again.

    If there’s something that you do – like staring at someone’s mouth because of a hearing issue – say so. No one is going to be offended if you say to a woman “BTW, I have a bit of a hearing issue, so if it seems like I’m staring at your mouth, I’m just doing a little bit of lip reading.” I guarantee no woman will laugh at you for it and they will appreciate you being direct about it.

    But please, for the love of gods, stop asking “but what if I don’t mean to be a creep but somehow turn out to be one?”

  90. To clarify, I’m not asking anyone to tell me how to behave–I know it’s on me. And I’m not asking “but what if I don’t mean to be a creep but somehow turn out to be one?”, I’m saying, “I don’t mean to be a creep but I’m worried that I will turn out to be one.” It would be awful to be a creep, and I don’t want to ever be one.
    I haven’t done anything that *I* think was creepy or predatory, so I’ve got nothing to not do again, but it’s not about what *I* think is creepy or predatory. I am very bad at interacting with other human beings, whether male or female, and I don’t trust my own judgement in this area.

  91. I think this whole episode of people suddenly encountering consequences for their behavior will have been hugely positive even if it accomplishes nothing but a lot of men realizing they’re doing borderline creepy things and deciding not to do them any more.

  92. Here is a thing I’ve seen in my lifetime (born 1959). There used to be an entire genre of cartoons about the guy chasing his secretary around the desk. They’re gone now, not because they were offensive, but because they aren’t funny any more. That’s a widespread social change

    This next isn’t a universal social trend, but I find it interesting. I love “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. I hear it as a courtship between a woman who knows she isn’t supposed to want sex, but does, and a guy who is pleading for her to stay. My daughter and her friends hear it as about dubious consent, at best, and flat-out date rape at worst. They are skeeved by “Say, what’s in this drink?”. I hear it as the woman’s blaming the alcohol for something she wants to do anyway, and they hear it as “OH MY GOD HE DRUGGED YOUR DRINK GET OUT”. In my context (and, I’m pretty sure, in Frank Wildhorn’s) the song is about coded flirtation. In my daughter’s context, it’s about not taking no for an answer. The difference isn’t just thirty years; it’s thirty years in which we went from “nice girls say no” to “women say yes if they want sex”.

    The reason people call romances “bodice-rippers” (don’t do that, it’s rude) is that the first big wave of romance novels that included explicit sex started in the early 1970s, with books like “Sweet Savage Love”, the ones with a lavish painting of a guy holding a woman in a back-breaking dip. In 1970s bodice-rippers, the first sex was always, always (if memory serves) rape. That established that the heroine was a Good Girl. Later sex scenes became more mutual. There have been theses and books written about this, and what was going on at the cultural moment, but the point I’m making is that it doesn’t happen today. Mainstream romances are all about consent, and about mutual attraction. If you want guy-rapes-girl, that’s a kink, and you’ll find it in the erotica section.

    So. In my lifetime I’ve seen it become routine to acknowledge that women want sex, and much less routine to assume that guys need to “not take no for an answer”. That’s a big social change, even though it’s not universal. Some people continue to resist that change, because it’s handier to believe that women don’t mean what they say than to accept that a woman who says no is off the sex list. But the conventional wisdom has changed.

    I think that’s frabjous.

  93. I don’t buy this “well, how am I supposed to know if someone wants to talk to me! What if I get accused of harassment!.” Please, it’s really not difficult to read when women are uncomfortable. It’s not difficult to read that they would desire space.

    A few years, I met a trans woman at a party. (I’m a cis woman) We had previously only talked online and I was excited about being her friend. I invited her to my house in case she wanted to get ready with another me and another friend. She declined. I told her that she was very welcome if she changed her mind, but if not, I’d just see her at the party. I did not push it.

    When I spoke to her at the party, her hands were shaking even though she was trying to hide it. She was turned towards me, she was looking at me in the face, but she was very clearly scared. I realized she was unsure if I was dangerous “In Real Life: I tried my best to open, and welcoming, and kind, but I also made sure to give her plenty of space. (I wanted to be friends. I also made sure not to stand too close. I made sure to wander off and talk to lots of other people that night in case she didn’t want to talk to me.)

    At the end of the evening, she gave me a gift, and I was so excited I nearly threw my arms around her. But I didn’t. I asked first if it was okay to give her a hug. By the way, I was super DRUNK and I still understood consent.

    So…I don’t believe this bullshit that men don’t understand my body language. I don’t believe that being drunk is an excuse. I don’t believe they need an explicit “No, don’t touch me” It’s obvious. If my new friend had hesitated before she said yes to a hug, I would have offered a hand shake or even a wave or head nod instead.

    If super-drunk me, who likes hugging EVERYONE, can navigate platonic friendship with a privilege imbalance, then men can tell when women aren’t romantically interested in them.

  94. @mme_hardy: More generally, that idea that any properly red-blooded male has to behave like a slobbering Tex Avery wolf when presented with a sexy lady, to prove to the world that he’s not gay or otherwise weird. I think there’s still a lot of that going around in straight male-to-male culture, but one of the side effects of the de-stigmatization of alternative sexualities may be to keep younger straight guys from having to engage in that kind of performance just to avoid letting down the side or retain their Man Card.

  95. The weight, the sheer weight of these endless revelations — which are neither shock nor surprise, which makes it all the heavier — of sexual harassment, abuse and rape, give women a perpetual headache. It’s as if there’s hardly any room left in the brain pan for anything but this. And then came a guy who seemed to believe that these revelations particularly re Louis C.K. (or whatever his name is — how people find the spews he has been doing for years attractive or even funny, I cannot tell) — meant license to ‘share’ his own masturbation habits, compulsions and obsessions, which somehow would show me he was a better guy that that comic and a feminist as well. Ya. Slimed.

    So, something had to be done. That something is to show how much we who have the enormous good fortune to have such people in our lives, appreciate these guys who are our friends and do not do these things. I am thinking specifically at the moment of our neighborhood corner hang out. It’s a splendid bar – restaurant that doesn’t have televisions, creates wonderful food, and employs a diversity of people that any customer appreciates, but for those of us who are constant regulars, become friends. I’ve been going to this place constantly for years and years. I have seen how the owners and those in other authority behave to each other and to the other employees. Never, ever, even a hint of such behavior — and I would have noticed, I would have seen — just as I have over all these years noticed and witnessed the birthday parties the owners give their people — and, get this! the birthday cake isn’t out of their own stock of desserts — they get one specially made at a local Italian bakery that makes cakes to die for.

    We see each other every single day because of location. We flirt with each other all the time, and it’s very old world, and a lot of fun. We compliment each other on how we look. It’s wonderful to have such people in my life — along with the other wonderful people in my life. Or, as a the Lebanese immigrant, up the block who owns the pet supply store for the neighborhood, said, when we talked about Tuesday’s elections: “Thank God.”

    I dunno. I honestly do not expect any of this will bring down the patriarchy — particularly when the Commander-in-Chief sexual abuser of the nation still sits in the Oval Office with no repercussions whatsoever. But “Thank God!” for the wonderful people — men, women, and all their varieties — that are my friends and family.

  96. My only encounter with something along the lines of the topic is that some years ago I was the manager of a small team of people, male and female, that was providing computer related support service to an automotive product engineering area. My duties included routine yearly performance reviews on various aspects of doing the job. The employee was rather forceful, was egotistical (though was very intelligent) and did not have a positive impact on the customers. Otherwise the performance was effective and met expectations. I counselled the employee to consider toning down a bit in the interactions with customers to improve customer relations. This recommendation did not sit well with the employee and the open door policy was taken. My manager backed up my comments to the employee 100%. Not satisfied, the employee soon after quit and filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination because she was a female and that male similar behavior would be rewarded and not criticized. Depositions were collected and reviewed by an arbitrator. The arbitrator decided there was no case. The bottom line to me was to be even more careful in employee relations and interactions. This employee definitely had her safe zone violated and was triggered… before these terms were likely coined! To me, it illustrates how human communications and interactions have been made so treacherous by our PC environment and need to accommodate every persons individual perceptions of self and their environment. I think that this leads to more cautious communications and perhaps less honesty so as to not offend people.

  97. @mme_hardy:

    This next isn’t a universal social trend, but I find it interesting. I love “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. I hear it as a courtship between a woman who knows she isn’t supposed to want sex, but does, and a guy who is pleading for her to stay. My daughter and her friends hear it as about dubious consent, at best, and flat-out date rape at worst. They are skeeved by “Say, what’s in this drink?”. I hear it as the woman’s blaming the alcohol for something she wants to do anyway, and they hear it as “OH MY GOD HE DRUGGED YOUR DRINK GET OUT”. In my context (and, I’m pretty sure, in Frank Wildhorn’s) the song is about coded flirtation. In my daughter’s context, it’s about not taking no for an answer. The difference isn’t just thirty years; it’s thirty years in which we went from “nice girls say no” to “women say yes if they want sex”.

    I, too, love this song for the flirty back-and-forth between the couple. And I too have been surprised when younger friends or kids of friends have the same “EW PREDATOR RUN!!!” reaction to it. But in social context where we’ve moved from implied consent to active consent and even to pro-active consent, it makes perfect sense.

    I still plan to enjoy the song for what it is at home, but I’ll also be aware of how others younger than I will interpret it.

  98. Madame Hardy: “There used to be an entire genre of cartoons about the guy chasing his secretary around the desk. ”

    Pepe Lepew made me cringe when it first came out.

    On the other hand, i always thought Morticia and Gomez had a fairly healthy relationship,

    Gomez: To live without you, only that would be torture.

    Morticia: A day alone, only that would be death.

    “I love “Baby, It’s Cold Outside””

    I want a reboot of this song. The two singing would be happily married, and they’re debating whether to go out caroling and have drinks with friends or stay home in front of the fireplace and feed each other bonbons.

    And in the end they decide to do both.

  99. “This is all pretty simple. And yet.”

    That “And yet” part is the kicker. I hope all men of conscience have spent the last few weeks in reflective meditation of their behavior with others when intimacy has become a factor. I can think of three instances in my life that are uncomfortable, but well… this is Whatever, where uncomfortable things can be discussed.

    I spent almost 40 years in the industrial/commercial plumbing field, a decidedly male dominated industry. But, I was in the supply side, where women provided a lot of support. Inventory control, accounts receivable and payable, assistants, secretaries, sales, really more than a lot of people would think.

    I had a good reputation as a respectful, honest, trustworthy colleague. And yet. There were times when someone had to walk away.

    As a salesman, there was a business trip to Denver to the Mothership Office. That meeting included dinner, bar, dancing. I was a long way from home and my new wife, with a bunch of guys who wanted to party. A group of ladies attached themselves to our table. Conversation, drinks, dancing. One dance got too snuggly, and…

    Someone had to walk away. Six blocks through snow and subfreezing temps will kick any idiot thoughts out of your head. I slept alone and was glad.

    Then, the lowlight of my life. An actual office romance. The chemistry was irrefutable. The “other woman” and her little girl got attached, and I got attached, too! My marriage was going through a rough spell, but that’s no excuse. No adultery occurred, but it was close. I knew we couldn’t work together or else. I had industry cred and could find a job tomorrow. She couldn’t, and needed that job.

    And someone had to walk away. I broke it off, told my wife everything, and quit. It saved my marriage, and we’ve now been together over 35 years. It wasn’t a fun period for any of us. And yet.

    The receptionist received a phone call that caused her to burst into tears and leave her station. I waited. Another employee came and told me the receptionist wanted to speak to me privately in the break room. I carefully left the door open so we could be visible, as I knew how fraught these scenes could become. Her boyfriend wanted to break up with her and she didn’t know what to do. She cried on my shoulder, we held hands for comfort, and discussed options to address her situation. After a while, she quit crying, was confident and hopeful with a game plan. I gave her the rest of the day off, and even tomorrow if she needed it. She hugged me with gratitude. I stroked her hair, and then disengaged. But… she held on. It became awkward.

    Someone had to walk away. Firmly moving her away from me, she went home and could not repair her relationship. (The guy was having an affair. They had a child together!)

    And none of the three stories you just heard actually happened. Or, did they? What you read is how I remember them. But, in each case, I remember me as the hero, the one who walked away.

    Is that how THEY remember it?

    Or, do they recall that I was a drunken salesman who was too grabby on the dance floor and had to be screamed at? Do they recall that I was a predator who used a co-worker, then quit before I could face the consequences? Do they recall that I was the manager who tried to take advantage of a grieving receptionist?

    I honestly don’t know. It was a long time ago, and their whereabouts are lost in the mist of time. I am certain I walked away.

    And yet.

    How can any man expose himself to anyone? Grab them in private places? Ask them to watch while they masturbate? All of this is bizarre and outlandish behavior that I find unthinkable. And it happened over and over and over, dozens of people! Someones should have known they needed to WALK AWAY, and had the courage of character to do it.

    I just can’t get there mentally, or morally. But, can I claim the high moral ground?

    And yet.

    I hate it when people act like men have no choice in this matter; that we are some evolutionary seed thrower who is compelled to mate with as many different people as possible. Men, WE DO HAVE A CHOICE! WE HAVE MORALS, if we care to use them. MEN CAN BE BRAVE IN THE FACE OF TEMPTATION and DO THE RIGHT THING! Stop whining, and be the person you want people to think you are.

    Kudos to the patient people who took the time to engage us idiots on this subject. Thank you. Even when we’re trolls, you try to help us. Such patience and kindness.

    “And yet” is lamentable. One day it won’t need to be said any more, I hope.

  100. Ok, I want to make a comment about online dating. Since a lot of people have said “oh online dating is the answer”. I just tried to jump back into the pool, I did not last 24 hours. SO MANY CREEPS. So many women I’ve talked to have had the same experiences. They see you are female, and jump at you. Don’t read your profile, see what you have in common, or anything. “Hi Beautiful”, “Hi sexy” etc. The problem is also online. And isn’t really safer in this day and age anymore. I even wrote a Medium article about it. I’m 47. And there were guys of all ages pulling this shit. “ooooh a giiiirrrrllll”. NO. a woman. Old enough, in some cases, to be your mother, thank you. And I did try to do chats, etc, and the few I tried were like pulling teeth. Painful. This stuff exists on multiple levels in our society, and it isn’t right engaging in this behavior anywhere. Online or off. Its still stressful to women. There’s an entitlement there. The same entitlement that caused some random local dude, Election Day, when I was stumping for the Dems, to come up to me, hold my hand and ask me how he knew me, and not accepting that I had no idea. (I wanted to respond that probably through the site that was debunking his shitty Republican friends, but….obviously not going to do that)

  101. @clancyweeksblog

    A bit of not-quite-reassurance on the flute teaching story. I probably had a similar moment from the other side of the story in ballet class with a male teacher. While I was older than your student (I didn’t develop early, I just developed a lot more than any of the women in my family), I had a sudden mid-cambré forward realization, not that my (male) teacher was staring at me (I’m pretty sure he wasn’t and I never felt he was creeping on anyone), but that it was entirely possible to see straight down through my cleavage because I was bending forward and I suddenly felt incredibly visible and self-conscious not only of my visibility but of what that meant regarding having the status of sexual object rather than an artist who created beauty with my limbs, lines, and movements. I’m pretty sure I did have a flinch-and-cover reaction at the time.

    You witnessed your student having an a horrible moment of realization. You may have inadvertently made her feel creeped on. I can’t speak for her. But it may or may not have had much at all to do with you. Your learning from it and developing tactics to avoid inadvertently making people uncomfortable, though, is what we wish more men would do.

  102. Men, guys, dudes, quit expecting women to tell you how to behave.

    BAZINGA, Kara Hudson. The whole idea that it’s women’s work to keep reminding us men of epically obvious shit like it’s not workplace-appropriate to invite anyone to watch you masturbate or solicit “dates” from minors is retro in all the wrong ways. Personally, I also find it pretty damn insulting hearing men trying to excuse their bullshit by acting as if any kind of sexual arousal transformed us all into ravening were-boners.


    I haven’t done anything that *I* think was creepy or predatory, so I’ve got nothing to not do again, but it’s not about what *I* think is creepy or predatory. I am very bad at interacting with other human beings, whether male or female, and I don’t trust my own judgement in this area.

    Four Ds, this is a general comment not a particular poke at you but seriously… I hear this a lot and really your own judgement is probably a lot better than you think.

    For a start, there’s a lot of creepy shit where no judgement is required. To use some recent cases – is it really that hard to figure out that, well, jerking off in front of co-workers is not even remotely acceptable unless your workplace happens to be a live sex show or a porn shoot? That, by definition, it is impossible for anyone who is blackout drunk to give consent? If you’re not being hired to give someone a massage, you really need to keep your freaking hands to yourself?

    Think of judgement when it comes to creepy/predatory conduct as an exercise in empathy. As I’ve said here before, I’m hard of hearing so don’t function well in crowded spaces with a lot of background noise. And, yes, I use to be terrible at getting way inside people’s space. A friend called me out on that, saying “It’s weird you do that when you HATE being touched or people getting in your face.” She was abso-fraking-loutely right.

    (Sidebars: No, I never intended to be a creep, but I was still being creepy. Intent is not magical, and I have precisely zero right to define what other people are comfortable with. It’s also on you to be aware when you’re in situations that increase the risk of not-good behaviour and either avoid them, or manage your risk. In this e.g., I avoid this kind of event and when I can’t? I’m more active about asking people to either speak up or lean in so I can follow what they’re saying. Most of the time, people will. If they don’t, move on…)
    If something would make you uncomfortable, don’t do it to others. That won’t cover all bases, but it gets you a long way down the road.

    Finally, pay attention. Because I promise you, if you were being creepy to me, I’d be sending up signals like an Independence Day fireworks display. It’s on you to pay attention and respect that.

  103. @gibberwacky
    Thanks. Your note helps a lot… I almost cried reading it. I’m not looking for a way out of the guilt I feel over that event–even if I know I did nothing wrong–but it’s nice to hear she might not have perceived it the way I’ve worried about it all these years.

  104. Men, if you are worried about being falsely accused, don’t put yourself in a situation where you can be ‘accused.’ Use the same ‘rules’ of avoidance that women (and other at-risk persons) HAVE to use; which are well listed above. As someone above implied, if you don’t know a person’s character, it’s not a good idea to try to pick them up, or be around them for that matter. At least you are safe in the knowledge that being falsely accused is a rare occurrence. Now, read the woman-provided wisdom above and think about having to live in that midfield. It does not compare.

    John, you state (in the context of reconciliation) “Worked to make right the trespasses you have made against others, to the extent that they wanted or allowed you too?”

    In that latter part, you make an important point. A victim does not always want some form of reconciliation. An abuser or harasser should never assume that it’s okay to approach a victim in the manner. In the more troubling cases, until the aggressor addresses their cognitive distortions, they are most likely looking for self-gain, that is, addressing their own feelings of self-worth and not the victim’s. This is in the realm of therapy.

    But the main point here is that reconciliation or not, is always the victim’s choice– period

  105. GARY: “human communications and interactions have been made so treacherous by our PC environment”

    I’m gonna say “no” on this one.

  106. @Cat: Yes indeed.

    Back on OKC, a while ago (sidebar: do kids these days still use OKC for online dating, or is it all Tindr now, or what?) I put right in my profile that I was mostly just on to take quizzes and write to people: I had an office job that didn’t involve much, but I still had to be there for eight hours a day, I was doing a bunch of other stuff, etc., so I wasn’t really interested in meeting up any time soon.

    I still got at least one message a day all “…wanna meet up?” And half the ones that started off as just correspondence would bring up an in-person meeting after like two exchanges. Dudes: READING COMPREHENSION. And also, a woman means what she says. If she says “I don’t want to meet up,” and then changes her mind, she will let you fucking know.

    Also, ugh, the two-word “hey beautiful” message. What the hell do they expect to happen? Yes, you can string together two words and one of them is kind of a compliment OH TAKE ME NOW.

  107. I hear some men say that they “can’t compliment women any more.” And if one’s ideas of a compliment is, “nice ass!” or similar one may well (finally) face some consequences in many settings. The thing with most of these guys is that they were not actually complimenting women to begin with, but doing misplaced chest pounding through sexual innuendo or sexualized, often demeaning, statements.

    The only “trick” to all that is to make compliments appropriate to how well you know someone, what the relationship is, and the location. Not really that difficult! One could easily create a matrix.

    And maybe just stay away from “nice ass” in any but intimate circumstances.

  108. Most complaints I hear about “PC culture” revolve around people (not all men) who are aggrieved that we might be expected to try to avoid saying things that are rude, threatening, hurtful, or just plain nasty.

    They are used to saying whatever they like without concern for others. Of course, many of these people want or demand “respect,” though they do not give respect to others.

    I tell them that PC stands for Polite Conversation. Their sputtering is worth the effort.

  109. This is a fantastic post and wonderfully informative discussion, and I have little to add to either, but there is one point that Scalzi made about apologizing or making amends to someone that you harassed or assaulted that I want to add a bit to.

    If you have indeed harassed or assaulted someone and want to make amends, it’s vitally important to be aware of the fact that initiating contact with that person may actually re-victimize them. Being contacted by someone who harassed/assaulted them in the past, no matter how noble that person’s intentions may be now, can be a harrowing and damaging experience. As the harasser/assaulter, you have to recognize that. If you choose to reach out to the person you harmed even when you know it might harm them again just because you want to make amends, then you have to question your motivation for reaching out in the first place. You may still be thinking only about what’s best for you, which means that you haven’t actually grown at all.

    If someone calls you out publicly for something that you did, then by all means, apologize, reflect, LISTEN, grow, and accept the consequences for your actions. Even if those consequences are legal ones. But if you harmed someone in the past and want to reach out and apologize now out of the blue, don’t. Not without help, and not without consulting a counselor who has training in treating sex offenders.

    The best thing you can do if you’ve harassed or assaulted someone and want to make things right is to inform the police, actually, and take the punishment. Let the professionals contact the person/people you hurt rather than reaching out to them yourself. But of course most people don’t have the strength to do that voluntarily, and it’s also quite possible that the person/people you harmed may not be in a position where they’re ready to deal with the mountain of consequences related to dealing with a sex offense case.

    So the next best option, if you really want to atone in some way for what you did, is to go into sex offender treatment. Get help, put yourself into a situation in which you will actually be held accountable for your thoughts and actions, learn about the patterns of behavior that led you to offend, and truly become a better person. And if that ultimately requires going to jail or otherwise having a criminal record, then that’s the price for the choice that you made to hurt someone (and it is, always, a choice).

    Anyway, I am far from a professional on this topic. I just wanted to make the point that reaching out to someone that you’ve harmed without the permission of that person can itself be a deeply damaging act. All the other stuff just kind of came out, but I figure I’ll post it anyway in case it’s useful to someone.

  110. I’m saying, “I don’t mean to be a creep but I’m worried that I will turn out to be one.” It would be awful to be a creep, and I don’t want to ever be one.

    Cultivate female friends. Actual ones. I have a handful of close male friends who have specifically said to me, “Would you please call me out if I do something that crosses the line?” And I have. For all of them, at some point or another, I have said “Yeah, that? Don’t do that.” They have, each one, thanked me and (as far as I have seen) never done that thing again. More importantly, they do not just have me to rely on. Most of these men are married (to women (who will call them out)), and they have requested call outs from other female friends, so it’s not Me and Me Alone doing the teaching.

    They’re willing to be taught! They ask questions: “Hey; what about this?” or “I heard this thing here; is this reasonable?” When their women friends say things like “oh god, not this week; ask us when we’re not in immediate ‘hide under the bed mode,'” they respect that and come back to us later. This isn’t hard; it just requires listening and being open to the possibility that women have something to say.

  111. Madame Hardy: “Rebecca Traister”

    From the article:
    “I once heard that a choking person reflexively leaves the room, embarrassed for others to see her gasping for breath. I have no idea if that’s true,”

    Yes. Absolutely this is a thing. People are so embarrassed about choking in front of people in a restaurant that they will run into the restroom where no one can see to help them, and die.

    If someone is choking and they run away, follow them.

    How the hell this arose out of the evolutionary process, or what useful purpose this would serve, is beyond me. But yeah, totally a thing.

  112. John said, “For the guys here wondering how not to be a creep, as it happens, I have a guide to that . . . ”

    Any takers? Can we get a show of hands?

  113. One of the messages I remember absorbing as a kid was that you weren’t supposed to “say anything” about something that made you uncomfortable unless you were really, really sure it was meant in a skeevy way. Which is wrong. It shouldn’t be on the kid to decide whether something is skeevy. They should be able to report stuff they’re NOT SURE ABOUT, and let the adults work it out. People who are inadvertently doing stuff that makes others uncomfortable should be able to get feedback and change their protocols: that should be a normal and expected thing.

  114. @Matthew: “More generally, that idea that any properly red-blooded male has to behave like a slobbering Tex Avery wolf when presented with a sexy lady, to prove to the world that he’s not gay or otherwise weird.”

    Round about 1978 I was flying home from college. I missed my connection, and so did a guy, a stranger, from the same college. We chatted, as people in line do. This was back when airlines still bought you a hotel room if their mistake made you miss a connection. When we got to the front of the line, the person said that there was only one room left, the honeymoon suite. I shrugged, and we agreed to share it. As I recall, we had a roll-in bed brought to the room; I got the ridiculous honeymoon bed and the guy had the roll-in. We both carefully respected each other’s space and took our connecting flights the next day.

    I ran into the guy a couple of years later, in group therapy. He told me his entire fraternity had called him either gay or a coward because he hadn’t gotten laid.

  115. Ughh. I was ~17 yro, in Explorers. (older boy scouts, but both sexes.) We’re out on some camping trip and there is a dance. I’m dancing with a pretty young lady. (From this distance I can’t recall her name.) Details are a bit murky, but a slow dance starts and I press up against her. She flee’s in terror. (Well it may not have been terror, but she fled.) I’m sorry. Oh and Sue on the trampoline, a party at the end of sophomore year in high school. (Shockingly there was beer.) I placed my hand on her bosom and got quite the slap. (Sue was bigger than me at the time.)

    Sorry Sue.
    That is all, most guys could be jerks.

  116. Pedro: “Any takers? Can we get a show of hands?”
    Looking at the guide, I’m clear on all those. Maybe not 10 (as noted, I’m bad with reading signs), but I think that’s good too, since my instinct is to flee interaction as soon as it’s reasonable, not hang around waiting for a clear sign to go.

    lilisonna: “Cultivate female friends. Actual ones.” That’s a tall order. I currently have one friend in total (male, was the best man at my wedding); I’m not counting my wife here. I communicate with him by email once every couple of weeks. I did get to see him in person about once a month, but it’s been a couple of months now since I’ve seen him and I don’t know when it will happen again.

  117. @ Terri
    “The Patriarchy’s Rules of Dating” is great in a Screwtape Letters, (Im)Modest Proposal way. I hope you publish it in a more permanent form than a comment.

    @ Scalzi
    Thanks for the How Not To Be a Creep reminder.

  118. Of course, I have the self-confidence of middle age, and none of my circle would pressure me into having a “man card.” My sort, on my in-law’s side, are apt to be as harmless as the members of the possum lodge, on the red green show, who all have trouble saying, “I don’t know.”

    But still, I can imagine if someone said I wasn’t a real man because I respected women, and respect them too much to “kiss and tell,” then I could just say, “Hey, I’m a man, and this is what men look like.” I didn’t make that up myself, I got it from feminist Gloria Steinem. One day some folks said she looked good for forty, and she merely replied, “This is what forty looks like.”

  119. Can’t quite believe it myself but David Frum actually has an intelligent thing to say about this whole thing. See twitter thread:


    In brief, these revelations – not just Weinstein but all of them – are occurring because ethical standards are rising, not because we’re in the midst of a moral decline. Women are demanding more and society is listening. Where it’s all going to end up isn’t clear yet but the genie is out of the bottle and not going back in.

  120. Madame: “He told me his entire fraternity had called him either gay or a coward because he hadn’t gotten laid.”

    Woman coworker asked if i could help move a bureau up some stairs since her husband, another coworker, wasnt around to do it. I show up with a dolley and ratchet straps , only to find out the furniture was fine where it was. And she was trying to have an affair. I knew her husband and didnt want to be the shit who ruined their marriage. And i felt like an idiot for missing the signs. It wasnt even on my radar, so i wasnt looking for the hints. Anyway, i left the house as gracefully as i could.

    And when i tell the story, some people say i was weird for walking away. I was single, having fun. I didnt need to stick it in every opportunity that presented itself. Years before that, i had a girlfriend cheat on me with someone i thought was a friend of mine. I didnt want to be that guy.

    And even then there was no “good” way to walk away. I felt bad even if i did nothing wrong. I ended up going to a different company a while later cause it just felt too weird.

    I read about weinstein arranging “business meetings” in his hotel room, setting it up so a third person is there to make it seem legit, and then that person leaves, and its just weinstein and some poor woman.

    I cant even imagine what my experience would have been like if she had been my boss and there was that added layer of weirdness on top of it all. Or if she had said I’ll never work in this town again(tm). It was bad enough as it was. Having it be my boss would have been orders of magnitude worse.

    But yeah, tell the story to some men and they just think I’m weird cause i didnt act like a walking penis on a mission. Ugh.

  121. Another factor in the culture of acceptance for sexual assault is the trivialization of rape in the media, including print. My current favorite fiction author, in his latest work, has a scene which does exactly that. To say I was disappointed is an understatement.

    Here is the scenario. A woman is being transported on a spaceship, incognito, and is subject to a powerful corporate sleazeball’s control. He calls her into his cabin and proceeds to let her know in no uncertain terms that she will be satisfying him sexually as it’s been a week and apparently he’s already worked his way through his underlings.

    When she demures, he first implies that she’s a lesbian then proceeds to dismiss any other objections and has his way with her. When they awaken in the morning, he casually “mounts” her and dispassionately discusses the upcoming events of the day until he achieves orgasm. Why this author chose to include this episode, which has no bearing on the overall story line and is never mentioned again, is beyond me.

    Now, consider a gender-role reversal. Is it still rape? The answer is undeniably yes.

    I was most reminded of the sex scenes Ayn Rand liked to create with powerful males taking submissive females as their own. Yes, I read Rand decades ago – hated what she said, had to appreciate the way she said it. However, I’m going to need to re-read “Fuzzy Nation” to remind myself why I love (most of) this author’s work so much.

  122. Tom in Colorado:

    Meh. I do think you’re skipping over the part where Kiva makes it clear Marce is free not to participate (which is to say, consent is a thing with her) in order to make your point. But if you’re going to skip over the part where she acknowledges consent is a thing, I have to ask if your point is all that good. Also, in the universe, asking if someone is gay is not an insult, it’s merely a request for information (source: Me, the author. Read the rest of the book for evidence of the social acceptability of same-sex attraction). Given Kiva’s obvious bisexuality, her using same-sex attraction as an insult would be… interesting. So I’m not sure that is supporting your thesis either.

    (Also, speaking as the author, Marce is into it, just confused because he didn’t think Kiva had any interest in him. Kiva’s blunt but her advances were not unwelcome. I apologize I didn’t write that well enough to make it clear for you.)

    So, not 100% behind your police work here, ToC.

    With that said, this is kind of off topic to the thread. Let’s save the lit criticism for some other time, please, and stay focused.

  123. I so hate android. If I could have a thing off to the right of the comments that I could type and untype things into I’d look at it and go away without posting.

    I was a thirteen yo boy. Except for my family I was all alone. And after a mere five years my big sister’s advice of just “say ‘hi’ and ‘fuck off’ ” worked. Still not sure if my sis was telling me to stop bothering her, but “hi” and nothing else unless answered worked pretty good.
    People are people. Treat people like people. Only good friends and family have the right to really annoy each other.

  124. I’ve had my ass pinched once. By the VP of the company I was working for.

    I wish there was a single standard for when victims were believed, but there’s not and I doubt there ever will be.

    I remember quite well when Bill Clinton’s accusers were only believed by crazy right-wingers. Or maybe the crazy right-wingers didn’t believe them, or didn’t care, but found the allegations useful. Who knows? I vividly remember Wayne Dyer on TV saying that of course the president would never have done something like that. My liberal friends to this day tell me that the whole thing was a vast right-wing conspiracy.

    Now we have Trump. The man admitted it on tape but the crazy right-wingers assure us it’s just locker-room talk, while the liberals take his accusers at face value. I don’t know which (alleged) victims to believe, but I know that I want to believe them if the person they’re accusing is politically evil, and I don’t want to believe them if the accused’s politics aligns with mine, and it makes me a hypocrite, and I don’t know what to do about it, since we’ll never know for sure who’s lying and who isn’t unless the accused admits it, which they only sometimes do.

    If I say “yeah, I think Bill Clinton probably is a rapist and should be in jail,” half my family will stop speaking to me. If I say “yeah, I think Donald Trump is probably a rapist and should be in jail,” the other half will stop speaking to me. I want to say both things, because I believe them. I told a friend that once and they told me I needed to get a better family. Wish it were that easy.

  125. I think that if multiple witnesses tell you they heard gunshots, you assume there were gunshots, without strong proof otherwise. If multiple witnesses tell you Fred sexually harassed/assaulted them you assume you’ve got a harasser on your hands. One accuser may or may not be telling the truth. Multiple independent accusers? Much less likely to be lying, especially if they have proof that they told witnesses years ago.

    I tend to think that “believe the accuser” is still relevant, because the cost of accusing somebody is still so very, very high, and the rewards nonexistent. That may change, but it hasn’t yet. This liberal believed Anita Hill, but should also have believed Bill Clinton’s accusers. I’m trying to do better this time around. If Mr. Rogers ever comes up, though, I will real-life cry.

  126. @J R in WV When the cat is away the mice will play (and get themselves into trouble). I’m sure our esteemed host will rectify your errors.

    @Madame Hardy I just want to say I admire your way with words!

    I don’t know if all this awareness and #metoo really signals a meaningful change in the culture, but I do know that the women I know are talking more to each other about our experiences and I think are aware now that we have each others’ backs. It can’t hurt.

  127. Scalzi, it is just so weird and frankly rather grating to see you now occupy this role as leader of ‘woke’ men when one of my first major experiences of sexism was at your hands back in our lovely high school days. You know, when you picked your buddy to be your successor as editor of the school paper rather than me, even though I’d been on the paper a year longer and written more articles for it. I trust that is a sufficient reminder. . . . In all honesty, I’m rather surprised that you actually didn’t turn out to be an MRA-type guy based on who you were and how you acted then, but then again, we all hopefully grow and evolve past high school personas. In your case, though, I’m choosing to give your wife most of the credit for this alt version of you.

  128. So, anyone remember that whole Gian Gomeshi* discussion held here a couple of years ago? Anyone?

    * Hint: He was exonerated a couple of months ago by an actual court of law, but what did we hear from this forum? Crickets.

  129. While he was exonerated, I have Canadian friends who were furious, and he did lose his job. Hold on to your pearls, sir. Sometimes “actual courts of law” get it wrong. Or there is a technical loophole.

  130. @ George Sand
    “Woke” does imply that a person had previously been sleeping.
    And I haven’t noticed Scalzi calling himself a/the leader.

  131. It’s spelled Jian. And he was acquitted, not exonerated. And the judge was heavily criticized from all sides for the reasoning.

  132. “I told a friend that once and they told me I needed to get a better family. Wish it were that easy.”

    No kidding! I want to know where this Family Store is where I can pick up a new set of people who actually want me, easy-peasy! The holidays are coming up….

  133. Lots of really relevant things said by intelligent people, I love this comment section and The Author’s skills as a moderator :) I don’t have much to add to the more salient points, so I’ll comment a bit around the edges, if that’s okay.

    @lif strand – yes, the sexual dance (love your metaphor) is not the problem. Quite the contrary; part of the problem is the fact that people don’t use the metaphor of dance but a metaphor of hunt (or of ownership of goods, as you mentioned). And the sexual dance is one where whoever may lead, as suits the dancers.

    @Madame Hardy – wow, I haven’t had that experience with anyone listening to “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, but I can certainly see how such a reaction could be provoked. A bit of a shame on one hand, because it is a lovely song in its context; great news about progress, on the other hand.

    @JHD – “I tell them that PC stands for Polite Conversation.” This is pure gold, thank you!

  134. George Sand:

    “I trust that is a sufficient reminder.”

    Uhhhh, not really? Inasmuch as I can’t at the moment remember who succeeded me as editor of my high school newspaper, I regret to say I have no memory of who didn’t succeed me.* I do remember, however, that I was not the sole editor but co-editor, along with Karen Hales. I suspect rather strongly that she would have had equal say in who succeeded us in that position.

    This is not to defend 18-year-old me from any accusation of sexism, mind you. 18-year-old me had his white male dude problems, and a fair amount of sexism would have been one of them (also a bit of homophobia, too, if memory serves). I’m just not 100% sure the Blue & Gold editor succession was a particularly good example of it, given’s Karen’s involvement, and her lack of tolerance for such bullshit (particularly from me).

    BUT again, I don’t really have any memory of making the choice at all, or why. SO, it’s entirely possible that my sexism at the time played a role in my argument for who succeeded us. So to the extent that any of my sexism of the time played into the selection: Sorry, GS. It was wrong of me. You deserved better.

    As others note, I don’t consider myself a leader of “woke” men, not in the least because I know myself well enough to know the limits of my “wokeness,” and because it’s for others to decide if I am “woke,” not me. It’s not a term I’d give myself. Also, I’m only speaking for myself, here. I’m not leading anyone, just speaking my own mind. If people find what I write here useful, great. But I wouldn’t nominate myself as a leader of a “woke dude” movement in any event. Again, I know myself well enough to know how far I still have to go.

    As for giving credit to Krissy: Hell yes, you should, although she’s not alone in being able to take credit, since I know and benefit from the friendship of many awesome women, including those from Webb. I will take some credit for being able to learn, eventually. But I have had good teachers and friends on this matter, and still do.

    * Updated to add: Went back at posting info and now know who “George Sand” is. Still have no memory of who we chose over her for editor.

  135. On the notion of a Truth and Reconciliation thing: we did that in Canada, too, in an effort to address the long history of wretched treatment of First Nations here (prompted by the fact of the T&R hearings in South Africa, and appropriate, since they sort of got the idea for Apartheid from our reserve system). I mention this for two reasons, connected with you saying above that it’s probably pointless as an approach to harassment without a toppling of the partiarchy:

    1) There was no collapse of the oppressing regime ahead of it. The national government recognized that horrifying wrongness had been done and acted on that realization without any kind of revolution. HOORAY!


    2) The recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which completed its work at the end of 2015 (and that may be viewed here: http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf ), have produced *very little* actual change in the relations and interactions between the government and the First Nations. I won’t say NONE AT ALL, and there’s some hope that what’s happened thus far is a sign of a course change against ponderous inertia… but it does still mean that there’s a lot of legislatively-approved second-classing of the indigenous folks here. Meaning that you may well be right about the utility of the exercise without a profound upsetting of the power structures.

  136. And yet. I think many men would be a lot less confused if they just realized that women are, you know, human beings, not much different from any other human beings – and not some mythical creatures they’re supposed to catch and whose communication worked by completely different rules from their own. (Which obviously doesn’t give anybody license to hide behind the “I wouldn’t mind if some stranger complimented my ass” argument ;) )

  137. @Janne: Agreed.

    And I think what those guys don’t get is that it’s not “some stranger complimented your ass,” it’s a stranger you’re not attracted to complimenting your ass when you’re doing other things, and getting pissed off (ranging from whiny to violent) if you don’t immediately divert your attention *from* those other things to respond the way they want, and this happening at least once a month.

    Like, rando guy: I’m glad you think I have a nice ass. I do have a nice ass. I work at it. But you telling me so doesn’t make my life measurably different, I’m a busy girl, and I have a lot on my mind. If I wanted to interrupt my day whenever someone thought they needed to hear a thought they had, I would have a kid.

    (This is, on a wider level, one of the problems with men in our society IMO: most of them can’t see a thing going on in the world without feeling like they just haaave to weigh in on it. Dudes. No. Everyone’s life will be complete without your opinion.)

  138. Another anecdotal report about “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” I was discussing this post and its comments with a close friend this morning, someone my age (60-something), and she said the song had come up at their house, and her 20-something son considers it to be about date rape, which surprised her a bit. “How do you explain what things were like when we were young?” she asked me, somewhat rhetorically. (My go-to is usually that you write good, nuanced fiction about it, which isn’t necessarily practical and not always effective, but as a writer and reader, I find that it’s how I learn best to empathize with people who live(d) in other times and places.)

  139. Re: Jian Ghomeshi. He was found not guilty in a court of law for sexual assault. Which has a much higher level of proof needed than civil action. His employer fired him for causing physical injury to a woman during a sexual encounter. They made no judgement whether or not the sex was consensual. They later uncovered a history of sexual harassment.

    As a Canadian, I didn’t have as strong a reaction against Clinton’s accusers. I remember thinking that he was probably an adulterer, and crossed the line into inappropriate use of power for sexual gratification in more than one case. I did not feel I had enough information to conclude whether or not he was a rapist. So yeah, skeevy, but that doesn’t also mean there wasn’t a right-wing conspiracy.

    The liberal dissonance problem happened a few days ago with the George Takei report. I was quite willing to believe the reports against Moore but had an immediate “I don’t believe it” reaction against the report about Takei. So. After some uncomfortable moments I decided I needed to suspend judgement on all of these cases, no matter my personal political views about the accused. Moore case has definitely tipped over to I believe the women.

  140. Here’s a personal example of the cliche of Talking To A Woman On A Train:

    I was on a train from Newcastle to Edinburgh in the UK, a journey of about 90 minutes. I was in my early 20s and had got on the train at an earlier stop. A young woman of similar age got on at Newcastle, and sat down in her reserved seat next to me. It was a few years ago and I don’t recall exactly how the conversation started, probably one of us made a remark about the scenery or the weather.

    Two things I remember clearly:

    1. I’d been reading a book before she arrived. She said, “I’m sorry, I’ll let you get back to your book if you like,” and she clearly meant it.

    Dudes, take note. You are allowed at most one conversational gambit. Give her space to back off. If she indicates she wants to back off, do so. If she’s clearly engrossed in a book and/or has headphones in, you get zero attempts to start conversation. If you find that disappointing; well, most of us learned as toddlers that you can’t always have everything you want. Deal with it.

    2. She was smiling, making eye contact, speaking enthusiastically in long sentences, and asking follow-up questions. It is not difficult to tell the difference between this, and a woman who looks uncomfortable and is giving responses of one syllable. Really, it isn’t.

    No, this isn’t one of those “reader, I married her” stories. I got off the train in Edinburgh and never saw her again. My point is, it is not that hard to behave like a decent and respectful human being, including to women on trains.

  141. Thank you, isabelcooper, you are so right. Reminds me of a time I had to dig out my car after a snowstorm had buried it under at least a foot of snow (after I had to dig my way down the back outdoor stairs from my apartment and dig a path around the house). I managed to get the car down the steep, slippery driveway–sliding sideways part of the way–and decided that was it, I was done for the day. Thinking a hot buttered rum might be nice, I went to a nearby liquor store to buy a bottle of rum, feeling like hell and distinctly bedraggled. I was 32 or 33 years old. The very young clerk carded me, apparently felt a bit sheepish when he saw my age, and chirped, “Most women would consider that a compliment.” I had no problem with being 32. I was *glad* not to look (or so I thought) like a young girl anymore. I had been happy to turn 30 a couple of years before, thinking (soon found out what a silly idea it was) that I would now be taken more seriously as an adult. “Why would I want to be that young?” was what I think I said to that poor lad at the liquor store, who probably didn’t have a good feel for what people look like at different ages. I would probably have been nicer to him if I weren’t wet, worn out, and grumpy. He wasn’t trying to come on to me, just trying to smooth over something he apparently found awkward. But I wish people would stop thinking it’s a compliment to tell a woman how young she looks, as though being young is what every woman wishes she were once she gets past about age 25. Lots of us like being adults, value highly the knowledge and experience we’ve gained that we didn’t have at 20, and wouldn’t be 20 again if we had the choice. Now that I’m 65 and don’t get complimented on my looks as often, I have to say, I don’t miss it. Complimenting a person on something she or he has done or made is generally a better choice.

  142. What Cara E. said. To my annoyance, I find myself more inclined to knee-jerk believe allegations against conservatives rather than liberals, somewhat because ‘liberals’ align more closely with my personal values, and somewhat because of the track record and belief system many conservatives demonstrate. However, I think in all cases I will have to check my biases in the absence of evidence one way or another and keep quiet. BTW, ‘liberal dissonance’ I like and will steal.

    If it turns out George Takei did grope someone without permission, I will be very sad.

  143. I made this comment on Metafilter in reaction to this essay being linked, and figure I should make it here too (just some slight tweaks in it). I tried my best to research it thoroughly in case I missed something, I’m sorry if I did. I don’t expect an answer, I just felt cowardly not bringing it up directly here if I was willing to say it over there.


    [Deleted because I think it’s not 100% on topic for this particular thread — BUT! Here’s the link to the comment in question on Metafilter, if you would like to read it: http://www.metafilter.com/170491/On-the-Record#7231415 It’s about me and this person’s thoughts about my public thoughts on Harlan Ellison. I respond a few comments down. Discussion of that should be there, not here. — JS]

  144. @Ian: Yes, exactly! One gambit, especially if it’s an intelligent one,* is fine–but if you don’t get a complete sentence or a follow-up question, NOPE.
    @BW: Pretty much. I like compliments on my looks fine, myself–vain and carnal creature that I am–but they need to be in an appropriate setting, from a person who I know will be fine with “Oh, thanks!” rather than “Oh really? Do tell me more while undressing.”
    Re: Clinton: As I’ve mentioned in similar discussions on social media: part of the issue there was how much the GOP emphasized the Lewinsky affair, which, while it included dubious power dynamics by 21st-century standards, was initiated by the person with less power. To an outsider who hadn’t been following the Clinton scandals, it looked like the worst he’d done was have an affair, which would have been his business, Hillary’s, and nobody else’s; with the kind of vitriol and resources Starr had at his disposal, I think most people sort of assumed that, if he’d done anything actually bad, it would have shown up in the trial and been more heavily emphasized.
    If he did, and it *wasn’t*, that reveals some pretty dubious things about the priorities of the Republicans and the media at the time, honestly.
    *”I love that author,” or even “That looks like a good book,” are both good; asking what the other person’s reading, OTOH, not so much.

  145. The one thing that is making me a bit uncomfortable are the allegations of “sexual misconduct” or harassment allegations that have nothing to do with work but are more, “this famous person invited me to their home/hotel room late at night after we had been partying and propositioned me for sex and I wasn’t into it, and it got awkward and I left.” There’s been a few recent allegations that almost fall into this category – George Takei (unless he drugged and attempted to rape that man), the singer from PWR BTTM, even Louis CK to some extent (two women were in his hotel room late at night, he asked if he could indulge his kink, they said yes thinking he was joking, and then it got weird). Even some of the accusations against brian singer, which is basically I was at a party with him surrounded by half naked men on molly, and he thought I might be interested in having sex. Some of this is starting to veer into sharing things that aren’t really anyone’s business and slut-shaming guys in a way.
    (again, if takei drugged and tried to rape the dude, that’s a different story, and the fact that louis ck indulged his kink with several unwilling participants makes it a different story as well).

    I’m delighted to see wienstiein et all go down. I think if you’ve ever pressured a woman for sex in exchange for a job or a role, if you ever made unwanted advances on an employee or someone you had power over, you deserve to be outed for it. I’m less convinced that we need to know every case of a famous person being a lecher/being slow to take no for an answer/having a strange kink/coming on strong.

  146. After his first trial, Jian Ghomeshi signed a “peace bond” and, more importantly, apologized. That means he knows — or needs to pretend to know — that he did some bad things at work.

    “I’ve had to come to terms with my own deep regret and embarrassment,” Ghomeshi, 48, said in his two-minute statement to the court.

    “I regret my behaviour at work with all of my heart and I hope that I can find forgiveness from those for whom my actions took such a toll.”

    The former host of the acclaimed CBC show “Q” described his behaviour toward the complainant, Kathryn Borel, as thoughtless, sexually inappropriate, demeaning, and an abuse of his power as a famous star.

    He said he now realizes he had failed to understand just how much his behaviour had hurt her.

    So, not officially guilty (peace bond), but not at all innocent of inappropriate sexual behavior.

  147. If it turns out George Takei did grope someone without permission, I will be very sad.

    After thinking about it a bit, I think that this happened. And I also think that this was a result of bad communications. And is a prime example of why we need to have clear standards of consent (and I think these instances of things that probably had to happen so we could have those clear standards of consent).

    That said, do we need to treat Takei as have Weinstein, Weiner or Moore? No, I do not think so, given that it seems so far a single instance (and may have contributed to an evolution of his behavior). There’s a wide range between hellfire condemnation and unconditional absolution,after all.

    (And, I should add, I am open to further thought about this).

  148. Agree with most of this, but not the blanket assertion that harassment can only be defined by the harassee. That completely rules out the possibility that some humans are prone to overreaction/jumping to conclusions.

    Aside from that, good.

  149. @mme_hardy — Sorry for the delay in replying, but yes, that (someone bringing a false accusation, as a deliberate tactic to sabotage both the specific allegations of sexual assault and harassment currently in the public eye and the greater credibility presently being afforded victims in general) is exactly what I’m referring to. Because it’s going to happen, it’s only a matter of time.

  150. I was in jury duty for a murder trial that took many months and had nothing but eyewitness testimony to connect the accused to the victim. After many, many witnesses, we knew what happened beyond a reasonable doubt. I have been on jury duty for a couple of high price lawsuits, with a 51% bar for certainty, and the cases had mixed results. Then there is the bar for “should i vote for this guy” and “should I hire this guy” which might be at 40% certitude. Then there is the bar for public opinion which is probably 30%. Like, yeah, sounds bad, someone needs to look into that. Below that, there are situations like a single accusation against a single person who denies it and no supporting evidence. Those fall into the bin labeled “i dont know”.

    For example, I dont know if the accusation against Takei is true or not. Right now, there doesnt seem to be enough to go either way.

    Its a messy process and it definitely isnt perfect. And sometimes innocent people get snagged. And sometimes guilty go free. But it is certainly far better than the dimwits who demand a criminal conviction in a court of law before anyone can be judged in the court of public opinion. For ex, the people trying to defend Moore.

    I just wish more respect were given to the state that is “I dont know”. It seems underappreciated given how important it is.

  151. “After thinking about it a bit, I think that this happened. And I also think that this was a result of bad communications.”

    It’s not bad communications to mess with a person who is unconscious. And while Brunton didn’t directly accuse Takei of roofie-ing him, it’s clearly one of the possibilities he’s thought of.

    “We have the drink and he asks if I would like another,” Brunton recalled. “And I said ‘Sure.’ So, I have the second one, and then all of a sudden, I begin feeling very disoriented and dizzy, and I thought I was going to pass out.”

    He added, “I said I need to sit down and he said sit over here and he had the giant yellow beanbag chair. So I sat down in that and leaned my head back and I must have passed out.”

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