Guest Blogger: RL Gardner
Another shoe has now dropped in the Herman Cain sexual harassment saga, thanks to the revelations of Sharon Bialek at a news conference the other day. According to Ms. Bialek, Mr. Cain put his hand up her skirt, and tried to force her head down into his crotch. To me, this action crosses the line from harassment to assault.
Mr. Cain’s reaction was a rather angry, incoherent email in which he called the accusations of sexual harassment “nonsense” and claims that the media is setting him up.
Um, Mr. Cain? If these allegations by Ms. Bialek and the other three women are true (and I am thinking that they are), the only person who set you up is you. You are the one who said and did things to women that they didn’t like. You are the one who acted inappropriately. You are the one who put yourself in this position. Stop yelling at everybody else, and do what you told others to do: look in the mirror.
That being said, what I really wanted to talk about is what underlies all of this: sexual harassment and sexual assault are real. It happens all the time, whether it be an unwanted remark or out-and-out rape. It. Happens. It is perpetrated by men who think that they have the right to say anything they want, touch any woman they want, do whatever they want with her, and if that woman doesn’t like it, well, there must be something wrong with her. She must have been asking for it. She was dressed in a provocative way. She was leading you on. She was sending signals. She was asking for it!
I’ve got news for you, Mr. Cain and any other male out there who has been guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault. She was not asking for it! You were foisting it upon her because you thought you could. Because you thought it was your right. Because you have no respect for women as human beings. Because you think that women are objects, property, chattel, etc., that that gives you the right to act out your fantasies, your desires, your power trips.
And when she says no, your male ego gets all hurt and sulky and angry and accusatory. How dare she reject you? How dare she say no? How dare she just not take what you want to dish out and be grateful for it? How dare she? She was asking for it, after all. You know that because, well, you’re a man, and that’s what men do. (Disclaimer: No, not all men do this; there are a lot of good, decent men out there who, even if they had thoughts of making an advance on a woman when said woman had not given you an opening to do so, would not act on those thoughts.)
It doesn’t matter if she says no. It doesn’t matter if one of your co-workers or one of your buddies says to you, “Hey dude, that wasn’t cool. Knock it off!” You just don’t get it. You just don’t understand what all the fuss is about, because you have no respect for women. Because you do not see them as human beings. So again, there must be something wrong with her. It couldn’t possibly be you, could it?
Let me ask you something, though. What if your mother, your wife, your sister, or your daughter was in a situation where her boss, her teacher, a guy at school, a stranger on the street, grabbed her or put their hand up her skirt, or tried to force her face into some guy’s crotch? Hmmmmm? Would you tell her that she was asking for it? Would you tell her she should just have gone along with it? Would you ask her why she thought it was such a big deal? Although I do know men who would indeed blame the female even if she were related to him, I also know men who are inappropriate with women they aren’t related to who would be appalled if a woman close to him were treated in this fashion.
I have had my ass grabbed. I’ve had my breasts grabbed. I was almost raped. I’ve had things said to me that to this day piss me off when I think about them. They weren’t funny then, and they aren’t funny now. I’m not your little toy, not some thing you can play out your sexual and power fantasies on. I am a person. You might want to remember that (or get it through your thick skull in the first place).
And while I know I may be asking the impossible, I’d like you to think about this. If you would find it offensive and horrible if someone did something inappropriate toward a female you are close to, then the next time you think it would be okay to slide your hands up the skirt of a female who is not your wife or significant other, remember that she has a father, a husband, a brother who would find it offensive if you did it. And keep your hands and your inappropriate remarks to yourself. Just. Shut. Up. Sit on your hands. Whatever. Just don’t do it, whatever it was you were thinking about doing. If the only way you think you can prove you’re a man is to treat women in such an inappropriate way, then I would say you aren’t much of a man at all.
Take a look in the mirror and think about that.
Also found at Democrats for Progress