It’s gotten so bad that I wasn’t even surprised to hear that Matt Lauer was fired from the Today Show this morning for sexual misconduct. I guess it would be news if a male in a position of power or influence had not engaged in sexual misconduct.
When I was coming up, it was understood that men were apt to behave badly, and you had to be on your guard. Especially in politics and entertainment. So starting my career in politics, I was on the defensive. So much so that when I found myself alone in the green room of the David Brinkley show with Ted Kennedy, I almost screamed when he offered me a cheese Danish.
Senator Kennedy aside, through the years, in my experience at least, the ‘grip and grin’ photo op with a politician or other celeb, was more often than not a ‘grab and grin’. I found these little invasions of privacy worthy of nothing more than an eye-roll. Sure, it’s wrong, but it was nothing compared to the stories I had heard or behavior I had witnessed.
There was the guy who showed up naked at the hot tub at the hotel during a staff retreat, the other guy who is molested a drunken female colleague on the banquette during a reception, and the partner who grabbed the butt of a male manager at an awards banquet. My conclusion was that given the opportunity, every man was on the prowl.
On of the nicest, most mild-mannered clients I ever had is a case in point. In the elevator after leaving my office on day, I mentioned to him that my colleague was pregnant. Completely nonchalantly, he says “Oh, I knew that. Her breasts are bigger”. If this guy is regularly assessing the size of women’s breasts, all men are pigs.
My mother once told me that women will never get real power in business because men worry that they are hormonal once a month. In my observation, men are hormonal 24/7. If a prominent politician can’t resist the opportunity to grab some ass during a photo opp with a total stranger, I’m afraid there is no hope that men will ever be able to contain their baser instincts.
Even if they can reign in their behavior, as I like to say, you can’t legislate intent. That is to say, you can’t make people think what you want them to think. Mild mannered accountants will still sit in meetings assessing women’s breasts or fantasizing about how any women at hand might fit into their sexual fantasies.
I’m happy to see women stepping forward and sharing their experiences. And I’m glad to see society ready to exert a penalty on those who misbehave. But I fear all of sexual harassment training in the world (or as I finally heard it called, anti-sexual harassment training) will change the fact that men are bound to look at women as sex object.
On the upside, at the rate men are being axed for bad behavior these days, women will be running things in no time at all.