As I sit here this morning sipping my coffee, I am heartbroken and sick as allegation after allegation surfaces in the wake of #metoo. Triggered by the disgusting allegations against Harvey Weinstein, the floodgates are open and no one is spared.
Not on the right, not on the left. Women, silent for generations about unwelcome sexual advances and worse in a power structure still dominated by men–whether in Hollywood, D.C. or Wall Street or Corporate America–have finally said “enough!”
I have my own #metoo stories: on the El in Chicago, backstage during rehearsal and after at cast parties. After a date in the supposed safety of my own apartment. I mention them here only in solidarity.
So, Roy Moore. A self-righteous, sleazebag Bible thumper with a streak of pedophilia and a penchant for lying. Did I say he is a pedophile, who, worse, lays the blame on his victims and political enemies? (Oh yeah, add f-ing coward to his “attributes.”) Put him in column “A” along with Denny Hastert, with priests who have their way with altar boys (or girls). What’s old is new again. Welcome to the #metoo era.
It’s nothing new, nothing shocking. Casting couches have been part of the Hollywood pop-cultural mythology for years. I binged on M.A.S.H. the other day. The show stars one of the most famous feminists coming out of the 1970s in Alan Alda. Yet I cringed watching the show with my post #metoo, post-Roy Moore eyes. Yeah, it was a ’70s show about the ’50s, and in war. Just as Mad Men is about the pre-feminist ’60s. The sexual exploits of presidents and other men of power have open non-secrets for generations.
Then there’s John Conyers, champion of civil rights, whose abuse of power with women makes me nauseous. Should he should resign? Should I equivocate and say “if the allegations are true?” Maybe, especially given the source of the information, Michael Cernovich, alt-right conspiracy theorist. After this article was originally posted, Conyers explained the allegation of a settlement with a former staffer, and I believe him. For now, at least.
And Charlie Rose. I think I’m even sicker about these allegations. There are few interviewers I respect more than Rose. Smart, serious, deep interviews about things that matter. It makes me physically ill to learn of his history of sexual misconduct. CBS and PBS were right to suspend him pending further investigation. No one should be allowed to wield sexual power over women (or men) that work for you. Full stop. And let us not forget Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey from oh, so long ago. (Has it only been a few weeks?)
Don’t even get me started on Donald (“Grab her by the p—y”) Trump.
You’ll notice I’ve omitted Al Franken. The accusations against him merit discussion, even further investigation. But their nature leads me to ask the question, in this era of #metoo, do we not need some rules? Some might say, “throw ’em all out on asses.” But I’m not sure I agree with that. There are degrees of dick-hood. And Franken does not quite meet the Roy Moore-Charlie Rose standard, in my humble opinion.
I think we need to hit the pause button for a second. Then, move forward with a sense of proportion and standards. Do I know what those are? No. I don’t. But I suspect that if you scratch the surface of Capitol Hill, you’ll soon empty the halls in both houses of Congress if we don’t view cascade of revelations without some sense of proportion.
Does messing around backstage during rehearsal once in the years before taking a seat in the Senate justify resignation? What if it’s his modus operandi? Just this morning, Al Franken’s female former colleagues at Saturday Night Live signed a letter attesting to his good behavior during his time(s) on the staff. Was the USO incident a one-off? (Yes, I’m aware of the photo with the hand on the backside.) Clearly, Roy Moore’s, Charlie Rose’s, John Conyers’s, Harvey Weinstein’s, et al were not one-off incidents.
I think an important discussion has been started and it affords an opportunity for reassessing male-female and power relationships in the workplace, wherever that workplace may be. What was acceptable in the ’50 wasn’t in the ’70s, and what was acceptable in the ’70s wasn’t in the new century. And finally, the wound is full-open and bleeding. And what was acceptable (at least in secret) yesterday will no longer be. And it’s about time.