When even The Washington Post runs articles like this, you know that the chickens are coming home to roost for the left:
By Christine Emba | November 26, 2017
The backlash to the #MeToo movement has begun. As the parade of post-Weinstein exposés marches on, so do the unhappy reactions to a sexual landscape suddenly turned on its head.
There’s the skittish colleague (“If I ask a woman out at work, am I going to be reported for harassment?”). The nervous cad (“Will one unfortunate hookup land me on a public list of ‘sh*tty men’?”). And the vexing question underneath it all: “If we get so worked up about sexual harassment and assault, what will happen to sex?”
This #MeToo paranoia isn’t all baseless. While some worries should rate only an eye roll, others highlight the precariously gray continuum from annoyance to harassment to assault.
But it’s also true that these questions hold something in common. They gesture toward America’s prevailing and problematic sexual ethic — one that is in no small part responsible for getting us into this sexual misconduct mess in the first place.
At the bottom of all this confusion sits a fundamental misframing: that there’s some baseline amount of sex that we should be getting or at least should be allowed to pursue. Following from that is the assumption that the ability to pursue and satisfy our sexual desires — whether by hitting on that co-worker even if we’re at a professional lunch, or by pursuing a sexual encounter even when reciprocity is unclear — is paramount. At best, our sexual freedom should be circumscribed only by the boundary of consent. Any other obstacle is not to be borne.
A recent article by Masha Gessen in the New Yorker illustrates just how pear-shaped our understanding has gone. Cautioning against a “sex panic” after the watershed of abuse revelations, it reported in solemn yet horrified tones: “The policing of sex seems to assume that it’s better to have ten times less sex than to risk having a nonconsensual sexual experience.”
Er . . . Is it . . . not? Is this no longer an assumption we can agree upon? If so, it’s time to acknowledge that there might be something wrong with how we’re thinking about sex.
It’s not that sex in and of itself is the problem. But the idea that pursuing one’s sexual imperatives should take precedence over workplace rules, lines of power or even just appropriate social behavior is what allows predators to justify sexual harassment and assault. And it encourages the not-predators to value their desires above those of others.
There’s more at the original, and it’s so good that I’d love to be able to just quote the whole thing, but that would be plagiarism. Miss Emba continues to describe the problem of selfishness that our sex-obsessed culture has spawned, discussing power rules and consent. But there’s one huge point she missed.
- Matt Lauer: married
- Al Franken: married
- John Conyers: married
- Garrison Keillor: married
- Harvey Weinstein: married
- James Toback: married
- Ben Affleck: recently divorced from Jennifer Garner; shacked up with Lindsay Shookus
- Roy Price: was engaged to Lila Feinberg; she called it off following sexual harassment allegations
- John Besh: married
Some of the men accused, such as Charlie Rose and Louis C K, were divorced, but most of the men accused had, to put it bluntly, readily available sex partners. They didn’t somehow need to pursue other women for sex, especially where the consent of the other women was marginal or coerced or perhaps simply non-existent, because sex was almost always available to them from their wives.The wave of revelations about sexual harassment — Robert
One of the constant themes throughout this has been the women who claimed harassment didn’t complain, because the men involved were all too powerful, had too much authority over their careers, that there was no one to whom they could go for any justice. It was only in the Lauer case where a complaint was made, and within 24 hours, the decision to fire Mr Lauer had been taken. yet even with that, NBC said that there was reason to believe it wasn’t Mr Lauer’s first offense.
If this is really about power, why do we need to rethink sex? It’s simple: in a culture in which sex outside of marriage is simply expected, there is no reason for the sexually aggressive — whether out of a desire for sex or a need to exercise power — to believe that his advances should ever be rejected. Yeah, Harvey Wallbanger and Al Franken are so ugly that it’s hard to believe that any woman would ever be attracted to them, especially gorgeous actresses like Ashley Judd or even marginal and overrated ones like Rose McGowan, but when the men involved are Ben Affleck and Matt Lauer, of course there’s going to be an attitude of “she’ll never say ‘no’ to me!” At least, not when there’s an unspoken expectation of sex outside of marriage. It’s eerily reminiscent of Matthew McConaughey in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, with the men involved all thinking that they are a suave roué, detaching sex from love, and using power to get it.
As Eric has put it in the past, the sexual revolution is over, and the men won. And now we’re seeing some of the casualties.