by Stephen Ulrich – a father of two girls
We have come far as a society since the days when jokes about grabbing pussy could be dismissed as locker room banter, therefore excusable “among the guys.” It was more than slightly ironic that Billy Bush lost his job on Today, yet the person he was nodding at while listening, went on to become the President. As we began this discussion, I said we have come far. We still have light years to go before we achieve equanimity in the work place or socially.
Entitlement. It is my offering that all of this action stems from entitlement. Young OJ is the star of USC, star of the Bills, Hall of fame running back, Nicole dis’ him somehow and he gets to slash her throat. Somebody has some of his stuff in a hotel in Las Vegas so he go in and steal it. He is an absurdly harsh example, but think of all the little ones. Think of all of the HS and college athletes that have never been told NO by anyone. Think of the businessmen making decisions all the time on who gets jobs and who is promoted. Ever heard the expression “screwed her way to the top?”
Puffy bully Billy goes to the high school dance and lil Maggie Mae says that she doesn’t want to dance, but he says “oh c’mon” and gently pulls her out on the dance floor. If she quits protesting is that implied consent? If she pulls away and he doesn’t follow her is it then OK? What if Maggie Mae waits until he is the host of a TV show and then “remembers” it and comes forward?
Inertia. As with any example of crowd mentality, the memories of past offences have their own inertia. Memories can grow and shrink with them. Think of a pushy guy in High School. He slapped my wife’s ass in the kitchen 30 years later and we haven’t talked to him since. If someone reads this story and remembers that he was pushy in High School, they might remember more that he tried to force himself on them and come forth now. Does this necessarily mean that he broke any laws? Is the question of degree important if he went on to become a powerful man and there are lots of people who suddenly remember him being pushy?
Degree. With all the “outings” in the past few weeks it poses the question of exactly how far is too far. It is not OK to go on a witch hunt to prosecute someone because they might have simply offended someone. If it was, I would have spent my life in jail.
Sandusky in the locker room: obvious. Franken making gestures supposedly during a comedy skit….? Does the fact that she posed for Playboy make a difference? If a girl is supposedly “loose” does that in any way legitimize unwanted advances? What of lewd jokes in mixed settings? Coke cans? What of the advances that were unwanted, but the guy got his signals crossed and assumed a degree of consent that wasn’t there? There is a huge difference between tacky, not skillful, and a clear violation. The laws are on the books, and their intent is pretty clear to most adults, but young people trying to scratch their way up the ladder tend to take risks. Perhaps this is why so many people are coming forward after so many years. “Hey, come to think of it, that WAS NOT OK!”
Consequences. It will end up in the courts. “We believe you Anta!” It doesn’t seem fair that someone who has had one, or even a few what would be called minor errors in judgement, should have his life’s work and career voided. A first date where a guy continuing a kiss if “she” wasn’t also leaning in. I think many of us have had a bumbling moment like that. It also doesn’t seem fair that a misogynistic “mis-user” of power should become a Supreme Court Justice, or President after gloating over Grabbing Pussy. Are we still going to look the other way if “his father is a senator” or “they was just bein boys?” On the other hand this could be a very useful tool to use to break someone and ruin their career. How can we stop the “good ol boys” from covering each other’s asses without turning it into a witch hunt?
Since the current regime is doing everything they can to replace the more liberal judiciary with young eager conservatives, it is my fervent hope that they exercise skillful judgement in the application of the law, and not a liberal vs conservative issue. This could turn into yet another tool for the “right” to punish comedians, satirists, and liberal journalists.