The week has been another terrible one, with the Rohingya, Puerto Rican Americans still suffering, fires destroying so much in northern California, and all actions on gun control are likely to go paff into the void.
But I want to talk about sexual harassment because I have to, apparently, otherwise I am a faux feminist. It’s not my role to discuss my employer, USC, and this is not a post sanctioned by the university. I don’t speak for USC, obviously. But I have spent the entire week listening to people yell at ‘FAUX FEMINIST HILLARY CLINTON FOR NOT SPEAKING OUT ABOUT HARVEY WEINSTEIN” because you know, it’s feminists’ job to fix the problems they point out but didn’t create. And you know, women are in the best position to stop abuses of power because they hold so much power in all these institutions…oh wait.
I suppose conservatives are having a heyday with Weinstein because they feel they were picked on, horribly picked on, when Bill O’Reilly and (insert long list of conservatives) were outed as domestic abusers and sexual predators. This flouncing around about how “liberals aren’t denouncing Weinstein, the hypocrites!”…yeah, ok, that’s politics, but it does seem like there is plenty of denouncing such that things have come home to roost on Weinstein, insofar that rich privileged predators retire into their luxurious private lives with their status moderately lowered. Goodness, such consequences.
The problem with denouncing these guys, without more reflection, is that it tends to create the impression that they are the exceptions instead of the rule in the world. Like denouncing the jerks in Charlottesville without accepting the everydayness of white supremacy, all this lather about Weinstein seems to leave the impression that it undoes all the wrongs he committed over the very long period in which he was rewarded and his behavior tolerated because he was, supposedly, a rainmaker, the one guy who could do the one thing that nobody else could ever do for the organization he’s supposedly working for.
That’s the story. A misunderstood genius. A Dr. House. A boy so exceptionally wonderful that we all just tolerate his shitty behavior because he’s just so darn special. Their benefits to the organization supposedly outweigh their costs.
Horseshit. These Dudes don’t work for the organization. The organizations work for them. These Dudes please higher-ups, and because higher-ups only care about money and status, the people that these dudes hurt become the eggs broken in making an omelet to the people at the top. Because the “rain” that these dudes make flows upwards, not downwards, and those at the top have bought into the “hey, the exceptional individual is what changes the game.”
Do you see how my language has become general, moved away from Weinstein and/or USC? Because this stuff is everywhere. I said in class the other day “Every single one of your female colleagues has a story, if not many stories, to tell you about dudes like Weinstein.” The women in the class were nodding their heads; the guys were looking at their phones, laptops, or out the windows.
The LA Times has smelled blood in the water at USC, and it looks like people have decided to go straight to informing the Times about what has gone on. I honestly do not know if we are worse than other places. I just don’t have the evidence one way or the other. With the Times scrutinizing us, the proliferation of stories could be scrutiny bias. Or USC could be worse than other universities. I honestly do not know.
But Penn State. But Berkeley. But Yale.
Even though the LA Times isn’t running stories about them, I’d bet real money the same thing, in various shades of egregiousness, is happening right now in various departments at UCLA, Loyola, Pepperdine, Irvine, Cal Tech, Occidental….LA Trade Tech.
Why? Because it’s everywhere. There was That Dude in the substance abuse rehab I worked in. There was That Dude in the Econ department at the University of Iowa. And so on, and so forth.
That Dude is everywhere, protecting That Dude is something male privilege does…until that dude somehow gets outed, and then errrbody shocked that That Dude was allowed to be That Dude for so long.
Dr. House gets to make openly racist comments to Dr. Foreman, a very accomplished man who deserves better, and who puts up with it and handles it, “because it’s worth it.”
Nobody ever thinks that there are decent men who can do the exact same thing that the Stars do if they were given the same institutional support and attention–and who wouldn’t abuse the people around them.
I no longer attend TRB because it just wasn’t worth the constant propositioning.
The mindset of US society is dominating, exploitive; it’s about taking, controlling, winning. And among spoils of that winning is the ability to abuse power. Bare-knuckles winning. Or abject losing. That’s the world, deal with it. Supposedly.
Our sitting president.