The sexual revolution is over, and the men won This is why you're seeing all of the sexual harassment cases come to the fore

When even The Washington Post runs articles like this, you know that the chickens are coming home to roost for the left:

Let’s rethink sex

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.

Ben Affleck was stupid enough to want to cheat on Jennifer Garner? What an idiot!

Ben Affleck was stupid enough to want to cheat on Jennifer Garner? What an idiot!

The wave of revelations about sexual harassment — Robert Stacey Stacy McCain theorized that this has occurred because Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election, that “with Trump as president, feminists needed scapegoats for their boundless rage” — is not about sex; it is about power. Matt Lauer is very good looking, and extremely popular among women in particular; if he wanted sex outside of his marriage (to a former model), there are doubtlessly hundreds of women who would have thrown themselves at him given the chance. Ben Affleck? Hollywood actor, married to Jennifer Garner for over a decade, and had plenty of feminine companionship after they separated; why would he need to pursue women to the point of sexual harassment if it was just about getting laid?

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.

15 Comments

  1. Getting back to the main topic, these men were married (and Lauer to a genuine hottie), but what about some of the others? I’ve been in MN since before Franken became a senator, and I have never seen a picture, photo, video, or anything else, of his wife. There may be a reason for that. It could be she’s about 5’2”, and that’s width, not height. There could be a reason Stewart Smalley has a strong urge to feel up other women.

    • Ben Affleck? Is there an ‘upgrade’ to Jennifer Garner? How about Tiger Woods, who was married to a Swedish bikini model, but chose to spread his seed amongst as many less attractive women as he could.

      It’s not about sex, it’s about power, expressed through sex. It’s about the notion of conquest, and if that’s sexist, women need to understand that men do talk about conquests when it comes to women.

      That’s why I agree with your old formulation about men winning the sexual revolution. What the sexual revolution did was to lower women’s defenses, making conquests easier. For however many women who resisted Mr Lauer’s advances, to the point that they considered his actions harassment, how many women accepted those advances willingly?

      • I don’t claim to know why men cheat or act like creeps around women they aren’t married to. Some may be insecure and lack the confidence to deal with women in the normal way. And others (Woods?) may be the opposite, with gasbag planet sized egos who don’t care who they hurt as long as they get their pleasure needs fulfilled.

        But my original point, which you mentioned above, is that the sexual revolution is at odds with a woman’s basic sexual instincts, which says that sex outside of marriage is risky mainly because of pregnancy, that in almost all societies a single woman with a baby is at a disadvantage vis a vis the same woman with a baby who is married. And the more casual the sex, the greater the risk. And women instinctively understand this, however, between easily available birth control and abortion, lies from the feminists (to women, that sexual promiscuity = sexual liberation) and lies from the porno industry (to men, that casual sex is basically a birthright and to just ignore that stuffy old “Church Lady” morality that says otherwise), you then end up with the situation we have today, with millions of kids raised by single parents and/or parents who never wanted them in the first place.

    • Star Tribune had several pictures in their puff-pieces about him when he was running– I’d say he married up, but inside of the normal-people-zone. She looks about five years younger, but apparently is only like six months younger.

      He’s just being a standard-issue junior high maturity twerp.

      ….

      To be fair, that IS what his entire job at SNL was, so not that shocking. I’m about as far from a fan as you can get, and I think there was a great deal of immorality involved in getting him elected, but the allegations against him seem awful…flimsy.

  2. According to Wiki Matt Lauer earned over $100 million and has a current net worth of about $60 million. Now, how one disposes of $40 million on items of zero net value is beyond me but if he did he is a financial moron. Maybe $40 million worth of condoms?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *