You can’t spell ‘harass’ without ‘ass’

The Mud Stud is not exactly the most enlightened of males. In fact, he’s a pretty dim bulb on most matters.

Some of the lads wandered a bit off topic in the previous post, toward the cascade of revelations about just how many of us appear to be dicks.

The sheer number of recent revelations feels overwhelming, until you consider how long women have been enduring a thumping of one kind or another.

In this country women didn’t get the right to vote until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920 (it was Tennessee, presently home to Herself the Elder and Herself’s younger sister, that tipped the scale).

Inequities remained and continued, of course. Today, women still earn less than men. Forbes says the Fortune 500 has more women CEOs than ever before, but that’s not saying much (32). Women hold just 8 percent of the top corporate spots in the U.S., according to CNBC.

In government, we find all of 21 women in the Senate and 84 in the House.

And of course, if you’re talking about simple condescension, or a good old-fashioned beatdown, men have the edge there too.

Then there’s sexual harassment.

I’m willing to bet that we all know at least one person who’s been the unwilling target of unwanted attention. In my newspaper days I knew two people — one woman, one man — who were stalked by their supervisors. To management’s credit, both perpetrators were disciplined, one by a swift sacking.

These creeps were creating toxic environments for at least two employees and had to go. But newsrooms, like cop shops, are rough-and-rowdy places, with an us-against-them atmosphere, frequent booze-addled socializing outside the workplace, and a lot of raw language. Plenty of torrid romances bloomed — editors with reporters, reporters with photographers, and ad salespersons with their clients.

And of course the publisher was boinking all of us.

So where do we draw the lines between acceptable, frisky, risky and abusive behavior, especially at the workplace? What merits a “Oh, go fuck yourself, Ed, you’re drunk” and what mandates a pink slip?

I look at Al Franken and I see a comedian who made a stupid joke. I look at King Donald the Short-fingered and I see a self-confessed serial abuser. Plenty of built-in bias in that evaluation, to be sure, but there it is.

Am I wrong? If so, what’s right? I’m particularly interested in hearing from the women in the audience on this one, because I’ve never been sexually harassed, on the job or anywhere else.

Unless you count the time the giant African-American crossdresser in the red miniskirt hooted at me as I was cycling through Denver’s Cheesman Park back in the Eighties.

“Oh, honey, let me ride it, let me ride it!” s/he squealed. I don’t think s/he was talking about my bike.


25 Responses to “You can’t spell ‘harass’ without ‘ass’”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Bill Maher put it well last night. We need to stop seeing all these things as equally black or white. Sen. Franken was a slob but at least with the data at hand, not a serial rapist like Weinstein or a serial harasser like Trump.

    Its time to change the culture but like any other social more, it is an evolution, not a revolution. That does mean re-thinking stuff like Bill Clinton but not to the point of letting the Dem party once again form a circular firing squad as a prelude to the mid-terms. The enemy is out there even if some of the assholes are inside the tent.

    Good friend of mine was allegedly assaulted at work up here. The Company apparently did little until she had the slob arrested. Then he was allowed to quietly slink away. I think all of us were almost homicidal over the way that incident played out. No one should have to put up with that shit and no institution should be allowed to cover up bigshots who abuse their authority. I think public castration with a dull scissors and no anesthetic would be a good start.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      My two cases were interesting. In the first, it was a managing editor trying to coerce a new reporter into sex. To her credit, she wasn’t even close to intimidated — she walked it up the ladder and the dude was out the door at what amounted to light-speed.

      The second was tougher, since there was no quid pro quo offered. It was a matter of the news editor arranging schedules so he and his target, a copy editor, were always working together, along with frequent dinner invitations and a sort of perpetual creepy tension.

      The copy editor finally had enough of it and went to higher-higher, and the situation was resolved, but without a sacking. Weird thing is was the news editor seemed to think he was successfully closeted, but everyone knew that he was all about the dudes.

      Nobody cared about that — the issue was the stalking, not the sexual preference.

  2. gary burnette Says:

    Well said and right on (also thanks for dropping in one of your fabulous cartoon strips for us non-BRAIN subscribers – more, please)…

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Glad you liked that one, Gary. An oldie, from 1998. I got a million of ’em. (Seriously, there must be at least a million by now; I’ve been cartooning for publication since 1970.)

  3. Sharon Says:

    Some of the reasons most women don’t talk about it or wait many years is because they feel shame, humiliation, isolation, judged that they deserved it, rationalized that boys will be boys. Nearly all the women I know well (and these are women with good careers) have been assaulted at least one time in their life, most of them can tell you about multiple occasions. These assaults are primarily by men they knew, either family members, acquaintances or people with whom they worked. Sounds like a lot of abusers, but really the number is likely a fairly small percentage – it’s just that the men who do this, do it over and over throughout their lives. And I also think there are a large amount of men who also have stories they could tell about their own abuse, likely when they were younger. II don’t know all the right answers to stop people from abusing others. Church certainly doesn’t help as we’ve seen in the past. Teachers have taken advantage. Powerful people at work and politics are part of the deal. Family members may be the sickest examples.

    This I do know. People speaking out works because silence aids the abusers. Once it’s out in the open and people are more aware, there are no hiding places left. There will be progress due to the discussions. It’s uncomfortable and sad so most want to sweep under the rug and not talk about it. That’s the worst possible place. Keep shining a light and progress will be made.

    • Dale Says:

      “Keep shining a light and progress will be made.”

      I think you hit the nail on the head Sharon. The courts won’t deal with it equitably – poorer abusers will be dealt with, and the well lawyered will walk, get a slap on the hand , or never face consequences at all.

      I do think Al Franken is getting a pass from we liberals. I don’t wan’t to go into the equivalency debate with righteous conservatives. They have worse problems.

      • JD Dallager Says:

        Mega-dittoes of support here, Sharon, on the “keep shining a light” philosophy (and hopefully action).

        As I see it, one of the many challenges of “he said/she said” or “employer said/employee said” is meeting the legal sufficiency standards (beyond a reasonable doubt). Never confuse legal with moral.

        While I often question some legal decisions, or lack thereof, (e.g. OJ Simpson, Presidential impeachment results, etc.), having served as a jury foreman several times, I have to support the philosophy of “never convict a guilty person even if we let some go free” (proven wrong regularly with new DNA tests and other forensic techniques).

        Human history has shown that power (physical/economic/political, etc.) frequently corrupts … and at every level of America (private, public, non-profit) humans are humans. Regretfully, many will choose not to treat others with dignity and respect and choose instead to coerce/adversely influence/bribe/harass/assault/etc. unless/until a light is shined on their actions. Often that means the “victim” who shines the light has their reputation shattered and/or their livelihood threatened and curtailed.

        Perhaps the recent “Me Too” awareness will help engender a needed change in our society? I can only hope.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeah, but flicking that light switch is a real what-if puzzler for a lot of folks. That’s how that douchebag Weinstein got away with his act for so long. Cross him and you’ll never work in this town again, etc.

      Props to anyone who won’t stand for it.

      For me, the difference with Franken is the comedian thing. Anyone who tries to make people laugh for money is going to fuck it up now and then, cross some line that was better left uncrossed. I’ve sure done it, and been called on it, too.

      The question for me is, did it happen more than once? Was there a pattern? If this was just one instance of dumbassery I’m happy to issue a pass. If it was a habit, then we got a problem.

    • David Rees Says:

      Thank you Sharon – spot on.

  4. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Love the cartoon! Stupidity, huh? That fits Franken if his account of the event is true. Picture was stupid on many counts, nasty kiss, if it happened, deserved a knee in junk, hard. Some of these things are he said, she said. But serial losers have a hard argument to make. Clinton the Dumber, Donald Dumpster, Roy the Holy, Fugly Al Weinstein, et al should do the Louis CK bit and spill the beans. Fat chance of that happening. Sharon is right. Most of these assholes, except the Dumpster, hate the sunshine. The Dumpster thinks he’s entitled. I mean he is a star, isn’t he? After all, he gets an annual $84K pension from the Screen Actor’s Guild. And then he points the finger at Franken, just like he did Clinton. Now that is stupid.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Louis C.K. was the big disappointment for me. I thought the dude was weird, sure, but also funny; insightful, even.

      One night when I was visiting Albuquerque and crashing in a Hilton property I watched a couple-three of his standups on HBO and dug most of his work. We supported his “Horace & Pete” experiment and bought a couple of his standups.

      But man, he sure took advantage, didn’t he? I don’t see that he went beyond being an embarrassment — “Watch me spank it or you’ll never work in comedy again!” — but it sounds like a lot of his victims felt that was going to be the case, regardless of whether he said so flat out.

      Comedy, like news, is a raw business. Shouldn’t be that raw, though. I had to do a lot of weird shit to stay employed for 15 years but I never had to watch anyone flogging the dummy.

  5. Pat O'Brien Says:

    One of my favorite comedy quotes is from Richard Pryor. “There’s a thin line between to laugh with and to laugh at.”

  6. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    The problem is rich, self-important a-holes think NONE of the rules of a civil society apply to them. Just ask the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in DC if you don’t believe me.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Exactly. First thing that came to mind when the Hilldebeast’s email issues surfaced. And when Weiner kept sending wiener pix to kids. And when pretty much everybody in the current “administration” forgot, bullshitted or lied their way into their jobs.

      A brother shoplifts a 40 from 7-Eleven and does 10 to 15. These folks? Not so much.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        The wealthiest administration in our history. Thirteen of them involved in companies in the Panama Papers story. Money talks and bullshit walks, especially in court.

  7. canamsteve Says:

    Reporters and photographers? Unheard of! 🙂

  8. Dale Says:

    There are just too many Pats and Patricks to keep up with on this forum. Damn the Irish anyway (maybe they should be travel banned), after they’re not for Brexit.

  9. Dale Says:

    hope you edit my post after the last comma.

  10. Shawn in the Gorge Says:

    Back in the mid 90’s I was an associate manager at a company in the south. We had a relatively new general manager secretary that approached one our other female employees regarding aggressive sexual advances and abuse of her off-time (the general manager would call her and tell her he needed to have her come over to his house to get some work done). As per the secretary, direct sexual intimacy did not occur. The female employee that the secretary approached, then contacted me and we sat down to discuss the matter (FYI: I am a man ). Because I was considered second in charge, it was my responsibility to take action on this matter which I did. I contacted our main office and the secretary, the other female employee, and myself spoke via conference call with several staff of the main office. The main office took the matter seriously, and transferred the general manager out of our office. Per my understanding of the level of abuse that went on, I felt that this was appropriate action and the the secretary and other female employee felt the same. FYI: I was not promoted to GM nor did I desire the position). What I and the other female employee felt a bit uncomfortable about, was that with no notice, the secretary chose to leave the company only a few days after reporting the sexual abuse matter. I wasn’t aware of any lawsuit that may have been later filed on this matter.

    With that all said, I wonder if my hormone driven youth may have taken too much advantage of the girl friends and similar short acquaintances that I had. I look back on the matter now with some regret and wish that I would have been more of a gentleman and friend with those young ladies. I hope that as they became mature and wise women, that they have had wonderful and happy lives and wonder why they ever got messed up with a moron like me…. Perhaps the truth is, is that I have become a forgotten page in their past….. I would feel ok with that.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day to all you scoundrels out there and enjoy the grand bird, the turducken, or perhaps the more healthful non meat based fare….

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Shawn, if you were less than a gent in your misspent youth (as were many of us), you gained a measure of redemption for dealing with that predatory general manager. Well done indeed.

      I think we’d all benefit from having time machines so we could observe and perhaps edit our personal chronologies. But think of the traffic on the Temporal Freeway! It’d make an LA rush hour look like a stroll along a moonlit beach.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        Yep. Is there ANY horny teenaged boy who hasn’t tormented some poor female with unwanted advances (and maybe worse)? The difference is whether you’ve matured enough to regret it or see nothing to regret, or even worse, are still doing it.

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