It has taken a few minutes today to get my computer booted up to begin writing, so I would assume no further sexual harassment allegations have occurred during that time to join all the previous ones.
But the day is still young, and I should expect a few more such reports about politicians and entertainment figures (or both) by the close of business.
After all, sexual harassment allegations have been an almost daily occurrence since those surrounding movie producer Harvey Weinstein surfaced in October. It was reported then that a dozen-plus women had accused Weinstein of sexually harassing, assaulting or raping them over the years, and many other alleged victims have come forward since.
Then accounts arose about additional individuals, including actor Kevin Spacey, who supposedly groped various young men at various stages in his career. At last report, 16 people had put the finger on Spacey.
Roy Moore, an Alabama Republican in a race to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, later found himself in the spotlight. Moore, a former state judge, is accused of pursuing romantic relationships with underage females in the 1970s while a district attorney.
One of the latest figures implicated is Al Franken, the comedian/writer of “Saturday Night Live” fame now serving as a U.S. senator from Minnesota.
Franken is accused of forcibly kissing sports commentator Leeann Tweeden without her consent during a USO tour in 2006 and was photographed reaching for her breasts while she was seated and sleeping on a flight.
If all this were not enough, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., has disclosed that two present lawmakers representing each party — at last report still unnamed — have sexually harassed congressional staff members in the past.
In case you’re keeping score, the perpetrators seem equally divided between Republican and Democrat. It’s almost like a poker game with someone saying “I’ll see your Harvey Weinstein and raise you a Roy Moore.”
One thing that’s clear with all these charges is sexual harassment is not a liberal or conservative problem, but widespread in America as a whole. This includes politics of all persuasions, show business, sports (remember the Penn State scandal) and workplaces everywhere.
While I feel for the alleged victims and what they’ve gone through, one thing that does bother me is why all these incidents are surfacing at once — a veritable snowball effect.
I can understand why a woman might not feel comfortable telling her story until decades after the fact, especially when the incidents involve powerful people. Those who accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct, for example, were subjected to widespread criticism by his supporters aimed at discrediting them.
And from what I’ve read, victims who file harassment complaints face a long and tedious process which tends to favor the wrongdoers.
Yet it seems strange that all these incidents from decades ago are coming to light within a one-month span in the fall of 2017. Perhaps some of the victims involved have been emboldened by others stepping up and paving the way for their stories to emerge, I don’t know.
But regardless of their motivations, each allegation needs to be taken at face value and thoroughly investigated, and those found guilty of such acts penalized accordingly.
All that being said, I also think these cases must be viewed in a larger context of what has been occurring in society as a whole.
I would submit that the role of the so-called sexual revolution which began in the 1960s is somewhat to blame in how it has blurred the distinction between what‘s acceptable and what is not in the way males view females.
For instance, you hear much talk about how women desire to be treated as equals on the job and elsewhere and not as sex objects. Then you notice behavior contradictory to that nearly every time you turn on the TV. On several cable television shows (“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” is one that comes to mind) the title characters seem to look for every excuse to show cleavage.
It’s almost as if they’re saying, “We want to be appreciated for our minds, but reserve the right to play the sex card.”
Of course, someone dressing in a risqué fashion certainly does not give a man the license to be a pig, but it does cloud the issue. If men are indeed inherent sex maniacs, why encourage them?
Again, while I’m not excusing the deplorable behavior of some of my brethren or implying that women routinely bring such problems on themselves, those who don’t want “rats” shouldn’t be surprised to see them when throwing out cheese.
Tom Joyce is a staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.