it is especially relevant (and especially a no-no) if you’re running for president.
there has been much ado lately about allegations that presidential candidate herman cain has sexually harrassed some women in the workplace. some can’t talk about it legally; others don’t want to get identified publicly, which i think is understandable. i hope the national restaurant association chooses not to out any of the women from the settlements.
what is one of the more curious elements about this whole situation is how the race card is now being played. all the while, cain has been saying that race has nothing to do with his candidacy. he has said that african americans have been brainwashed to vote the democratic ticket and that he essentially thinks that race has no part in all of this. and now, he, along with a lot of conservative commentators, are running around, screaming that the harrassment issues that plague him are all racially-motivated.
dude, you can’t have it both ways.
anyway, so why is sexual harrassment a problem for a presidential candidate? didn’t president clinton have his issues with women, some might ask. of course, clinton’s relationships, while possibly unsavory, were between consensual adults as far as we are aware. (a lot of these cheaters were/are in consensual relationships. john edwards, newt gingrich, and so many, many more.) but cain? we don’t know what he did, and apparently, whatever he allegedly did was not consensual.
and you know what that means you’re doing:
i get a sense from the world around me that people don’t seem to get sexual harrassment anymore; and many seem to think it’s a tempest in a teapot. i won’t get into a major feminist rant about it, but suffice to say it’s more than just unpleasantness.
and by the way, it is a no-no under the civil rights act (1964) as employment discrimination.
i have heard many people say that women just can’t take a joke anymore. or a compliment. or a comment, period. but in the workplace, you really don’t have the right to go there — with anyone. and if your mama and daddy taught you well, you should know by now that you can go far by keeping your opinion of how someone looks to yourself. so many people don’t get how even a glance can make someone uncomfortable. but these sorts of behaviors, particularly from superiors, can be absolutely terrifying.
when i was younger, i worked in a place where there was a man about 25 years my senior (at least.) i have often hoped that he didn’t mean anything by his actions and that he thought he was being kind. but whenever he saw me, he would put his arm around me. he was a bit unctuous. it made me very uncomfortable; but as i was pretty young (and he was much higher up than i was on the food chain), i wouldn’t say anything. i couldn’t. but it would freeze me to the core every time he did that, and when i saw him in the hallway, i would turn and go the opposite way, hoping he wouldn’t see me. i didn’t say anything to anyone until years later, when i was having lunch with my mentor (who also, by the way, is male and about 15 years older than i am. he worked in the same place as us and has always been very respectfully protective of me and of my colleagues who all worked for him when we all started out.) when i told him what had happened years prior, he was furious: why didn’t i say something to him? why didn’t i say something to anyone?
i think there are a lot of people like me who are terrified to say anything. we can’t afford to lose our jobs. we don’t dare speak up because so many people don’t believe you when you share stuff like this. you are told you are too sensitive and that you need to lighten up. so anyone who has had the courage to come forward is someone i will definitely hear out.
cain’s camp is saying that this has all come to the fore thanks to rick perry’s campaign. frankly, i don’t care how it came up; it is real and it is something to consider. i don’t care whether a politician can’t keep it in his pants — unless he is coercing someone else to engage in his salacious behavior. then, i definitely take notice.
and i hope american voters will, too.