Sexual Harassment: We must include the history of it all

I’m stymied by all these “old” accusations of sexual harassment.  Not because I specifically disbelieve them, but as a victim of it in the workplace more than once, I know the history and evolution of it.  Folks, the dates don’t work for me with many of these, and I think it’s time to talk about it HISTORICALLY since no one is doing so.

I’m frustrated that a 1990s issues just "happened" to come up in an election cycle. Seems to me that seeking to have your house paid off today (the issue with Gloria Alred and her daughter) is NO reason to come forward. Nor is smearing an election campaign for personal gain. That is extortion in my book.

The two women in articles such as the one below from The Hill were among quite a few “victims” in that time period—many of them those of us that are my age will remember well. The 1990s was the era of the Clinton impeachment (“I did not have sex with that woman.”), and that of Clarence Thomas, among others. In that climate, it would have been an excellent time for these two to come forward, but NO....they waited till an election cycle nearly a quarter CENTURY later. I am now forced to ignore the initial event and ask myself, “What is the end game and why NOW?” In this case, for the accuser and the attorney, it seems to have become about money and influencing an election—again a quarter century later—rather than any real feelings of angst running over (not saying they weren’t present).

Although there is NEVER an excuse for sexual harassment, we should also examine any culpability on the female's part in some cases. I suspect there is culpability of SOME of these women (example—Bill Cosby). When you are "flown to the estate/home/hotel room of [insert powerful man here], what do you THINK they want? I have news for you's not so you can run their vacuum, cook them dinner, or interview for a job. SO, let's be honest here......if you want to cozy up to powerful players, you MAY get played. Is it right? No, but is it unusual? NO, and it never has been. Why do you think the term “casting couch” has been in the lexicon so long?

The sad reality is that harassment HAS gone on too long and like an octopus with tentacles, it’s reached into many cracks and crevices. People today only want to look at Trump or powerful Republicans for this and forget or excuse the others, but let’s populate a short list because it’s important to do so. Former Presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, and more recently G.H.W. Bush (and I strongly suspect many more). Should we add Ted Kennedy and Chappaquidick (Mary Jo Kopechne), too? There are many Democrat Congressmen, and a handful of GOP (and I suspect that pool is only smaller due to a lack of present day knowledge, not acts themselves). Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court goes on the list, and I could go on and on. Add to this a heretofore hidden governmental slush fund to ensure silence, and you have quite the “habit” I think. Now, mix in the creep Weinstein and his cronies, and pretty much any power player in Hollywood or ball players, rock stars, and more.

However the one thing I’ve not seen in the media at all is the TIMELINE placed alongside the law. Timeline HAS TO BE a factor in accusations. Not only the timeline alongside an election cycle (Roy Moore, Trump/Clinton), but the LEGAL timeline. Sexual harassment was not even in our vernacular until 1975 when the phrase was coined at Cornell University. Marital rape was also first made illegal that year. It wasn’t until 1978, that incest was universally illegal in America. Date rape wasn’t defined as such until 1985. So, putting some of these claims in context is crucial to the argument—especially when speaking legally.

Until 1977, no woman had ever won a legal battle using sexual harassment as a cause and for quite some time after it was still quite rare. Then, it was battled about in court until 1988 when SCOTUS decided to hold employers FINANCIALLY accountable. SO, essentially, it wasn’t until 1988 when the discussion of any type of sexual harassment really took off, but it was generally inside a financial loss dialogue rather than a women’s rights dialogue

Shortly thereafter, however, Anita Hill came forward (1991) when Clarence Thomas was in the midst of confirmation for SCOTUS. IN 1992, Juanita Broderick accused Bill Clinton, and later Paula Jones did as well among other women (nearly 20 in total) with 1995-96 being the years of Monica Lewinsky’s unfortunate internship experience. Bill Cosby’s incident from the trial was 2004. These dates are important because during the early 1990s, it was the early years of sexual harassment and things were not 100% legally clear. However, following this timeline, it literally becomes “what did the law say and when” whether we like it or not. Things that are unconscionable do not always begin life as illegal, as evidenced by the incest date above, for example.

We also simply must talk about the evolution of the male of our species. How many of these men may still be ongoing abusers? How many of these have served as “roadmaps” or “instructors” or “role models” for other abusers—those from which the current slush fund paid out would be a good example of this. On the lfip side, how many learned the lesson and left that lifestyle behind (thankfully). Who of the above, for instance, may have changed their behavior and learned the lessons needed to be better men and examples to others? Why are we not acknowledging that evolutionary development as we should?

The latter group should be a lesson in “changing behaviors. Men who repented of that, and left that life behind should get credit for changing as a human being and be the example of the change that is possible rather than continually dragging them back into that time in their lives. What about the guy in your town that has become a huge proponent for women’s rights after he learned better? Should all his work be negated because he exhibited poor behavior back in the day when it was pretty much prevalent everywhere? I would say no because to do so would not be dissimilar to continually blaming recovering drug addicts or alcoholics or even anorexics for their previous behavior—and no one wants that.

So, while we are having a plethora of “accusations” out there, I am unsure they’re all “truthful” or perhaps even relevant, especially if lawyers with power and money coerce them into it. There are also just far too many folks out there seeking their 15 minutes of fame and don’t care how they get it….sometimes, that’s jumping on a plane to meet a power player then screaming “sexual harassment/assault” when it doesn’t work out their way. That is also just not ok.

UPDATE: It seems I was correct in wondering about all this since it has now come to light that powerful Clinton donors did pay these lawyers to flesh out these people and attempt to discredit the individuals in question. Also, it seems that one of the Trump accusers tried to get a job with his campaign to “push her male makeup line” and when it didn’t work out, she was unhappy.  THEN, she tried to declare sexual harassment.  Sorry, sweetie, I was sexually harassed.  There is no WAY I would go to my harassers and say, “Hey, how about I work with you closely on [any project].”  That just is not honest.

Here’s the link to the update—it appears on many websites including the New York Times, but I chose this one because it breaks it down in easy to follow timelines and verbiage:

Here is the original “Hill” article I referenced above.

As a woman who has been sexually harassed more than once in the 1980s/90s workplace, I felt I had to speak out on this revelation from the article in the link.

Whether these women were assaulted, groped, talked badly to, or whatever, the behavior of Gloria Allred's daughter is despicable, as is Ms. Gloria herself these days. It is clear she is "hitting the bricks" to both smear for the election timeline (by citing cutoff dates and soliciting donor money from these sources) and for her own personal gain.