Dear Male Defender of Schwarzenegger’s Groping,
Do you have a wife or past-puberty daughter? Great. Let me ask you, are her tits real? Let me feel ‘em. Mind if I reach under her skirt and feel her ass?
I’m not going to ask her, mind you. Because her consent doesn’t matter. I mean, this kind of feels like a “rowdy” atmosphere, so I think I’ll do a little playful groping.
I’m sure you won’t mind, because you’ve already declared that consent doesn’t matter.
Bob Somerby notes how some men in the media just don’t get it:
GROPE THIS: How low in character is Washington’s “press corps?” Chris Matthews has long been the low of the low, and he proved it again on last Friday night’s Hardball. That morning, the Los Angeles Times had reported that six women had accused Arnold Schwarzenegger of groping and grabbing, without their consent. Matthews has been the muscleman’s chief shill in the media, so he quickly got to work, standing by his man. But uh-oh! Friday night, trouble was brewing! On Hardball, Gloria Allred expressed concern about the Times report:
ALLRED: What I’m concerned about is what Arnold Schwarzenegger has done, what he has allegedly done to women, to the six women who reported incidents to the L. A. Times. We don’t know if it is true or not, but Mr. Schwarzenegger himself, Chris, said where there’s smoke, there’s fire. He suggested that he acted badly.
ALLRED: He suggested that he apologize. But he didn’t specifically say what he did. We’re not stupid. The Times reported that he grabbed women’s breasts, that he grabbed under their skirt and to their buttocks.
Uh-oh! It didn’t sound good! So Matthews began misdirecting. “By the way, where were you on Clinton?” he asked, specifically mentioning Monica Lewinsky. And soon an obvious distinction was offered. “This is a different situation,” Allred said. “This is unconsented-to conduct.”
Hmmm. Let’s see if we can puzzle this out. Lewinsky engaged in consensual conduct. These six (now fifteen) women say they were groped. The distinction seemed fairly clear to us, but the Hardball host was thoroughly flummoxed. Allred voiced the distinction again. But he just couldn’t figure it out:Can’t you see the total clowning, and one of the clowning clowns who produce it? Matthews feigned utter confusion—he just couldn’t figure this “value system” out! And now, concluding his segment with Allred, he showcased his low, smutty character:
ALLRED: The situation with Monica Lewinsky was consented-to conduct. She consented to that conduct. In the newspaper article in the L. A. Times, the situation with the six women with Arnold Schwarzenegger—
MATTHEWS: So it’s OK if it’s—
ALLRED: —is unconsented-to, if you believe it’s true.
MATTHEWS (openly sarcastic): OK. Just to get this straight, just to—Gloria, so your record is straight here. So it’s OK to have consensual relations with a woman who is 30 years or whatever younger than you in the workplace. That’s OK. And it is OK to lie about it. But in this case, he admitted he did it and that’s not OK. What is your value system here?
ALLRED (continuing directly): Well, it is very clear. It is not unlawful, although I don’t think it is wise, to have a sexual relationship that is consented to in the workplace.
ALLRED: But, if it is unwelcome in the workplace, as is alleged against Arnold Schwarzenegger, that’s unlawful. If it is true, it is sexual battery that he committed, Mr. Schwarzenegger. And that is potentially a crime.
MATTHEWS: Great. OK. My producer is telling me to shut you up. OK? I’m trying to be polite. Go ahead, Kim [Serafin].
Matthews—“trying to be polite”—didn’t tell Allred to “shut up” himself. He just said his producer was saying it!
But Matthews was hardly alone this weekend. Many pundits seemed confused by the concept of consent. Of course, few of them clowned any harder than Matthews. But he’s long been an industry leader.
THEY’VE GOT YOUR CONSENT RIGHT HERE: Many pundits were having trouble with the “consensual/nonconsensual” distinction. Wow, it was hard to sort out! Luckily, Susan Faludi explained why that might be. Why was Matthews so utterly puzzled? Why should Allred just “shut up?” Writing an op-ed in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, Faludi offered a general suggestion:FALUDI: A Schwarzenegger spokesman told The Times that [one of the alleged groping episodes] was just a case of “locker room humor.” Which actually explains a good deal of Schwarzenegger’s appeal to male voters. He comes out of the testosterone-ruled world of weight rooms and action movies, where women are the designated observers and adorners, and where men find their place in the wolf pack through a well-established ordeal of hazing and humiliation.
The men who don’t make it to the top in that world still have the compensation of identifying with the one man who does, as long as they don’t identify with any of the women, as long as they don’t “say nothing.” They still belong to the pack, by virtue of being male.
No matter how much sand gets kicked in their face, they still can fantasize that one day they, too, like Charles Atlas, will do enough leg lifts to rise in the ranks…The locker room game works as long as only men get to play, and only as long as they agree to play by certain rules. One rule is that sensuality is verboten, but aggressive jocularity is not. Humiliating women in a “playful” way can signal a powerful rejection of “the feminine” and a powerful reinforcement of male bonding.
Of course, Matthews has always been a sand-kicking bully when female guests talk back on Hardball. We have written in the past about his rude putdowns of Norah O’Donnell, Elizabeth Holtzman, Kiki Moore, Mary Boyle. Let’s say this for Bill O’Reilly—he tells men that they ought to shut up. Matthews—a 98-pound bully and coward—likes to say “shut up” to women.
Clever Republicans think that by bringing up Clinton/Lewinsky shenanigans they are pointing out liberal hypocrisy. What they really do is reveal something scary about themselves–that they can’t understand the concept of a consent boundary.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
And keep your daughters away from these rowdy, playful men.