Let’s Hear it for the Guys Who Don’t
By Patrick F. Cannon
It seems like every day brings news about another male public figure being accused of some form of sexual harassment (this Monday it was Peyton Manning; on Tuesday, Kevin Spacey, albeit in a different category). The most attention has been given to the case of Harvey Weinstein, who seems to have heroically carried on the “casting couch” tradition of such legendary Hollywood producers as Jack Warner, Harry Cohn and David O. Selznick, to name only a few.
The saddest to me is the case of Bill Cosby, who so many people admired for his image as a “clean” comedian and his family-oriented television series. While he has yet to be convicted of any crime, I’m now convinced that at least some of the stories about his sexual predations are true. While I’m not sure there is any research to back this up, the entertainment industry (including the branch that passes for news) seems to be a particular hot bed of squalid activity.
The reason seems obvious – men have traditionally held positions of power over who will or will not work. Except in the few cases where an actress is so obviously superior that she can pick and choose when and where she will work, the number of actresses seeking work far exceeds the number of roles available. To use that power – which also exists in other industries – to gain sexual favors from vulnerable employees is an evil that should have been stamped out years ago. One only regrets that women have only recently felt able to call these monsters to account.
But as so often happens in a society more and more divided politically and socially, we tend to tar everyone with the same brush. Thus, to the radical feminists, all men are predators; indeed, to some of them, all sexual intercourse is rape (Mother Nature be damned!). In such an atmosphere, even the most innocent remark is judged against a standard no man can meet.
Yet, the great majority of men have never sexually harassed the women they work with or supervise. I know I never did, and am not aware of any man I worked with who did so in the 45 years I spent going to work (I confess I can sometimes be oblivious). For most of those years, I was a manager who supervised professionals, including managers. Most were women. While I won’t claim all of them thought I was perfect, none had reason to complain they were treated differently because of their sex.
Please understand that I am not naïve. I absolutely understand that women have been historically paid less than their male counterparts, and have had a long struggle to be considered equally for promotion. And I know that their struggles are not over by any means. But nothing is gained from lumping all men with the likes of Harvey Weinstein. Instead, let’s give some credit to the great majority of men – fathers, husbands, brothers – who held their tongues and kept their hands to themselves.
Finally, let me caution that not every accusation will be true, but will be immediately reported as such whether it has been investigated fully or not. If the accused is famous enough, the story will lead the network news and find its way to the front pages of major newspapers. The damage done to the subject’s reputation and career will be immediate, and lasting, whether or not the accusation is later proved false. Such is the tenor of our times.
Copyright 2017, Patrick F. Cannon