I feel a need to say something about the recent flood of revelations of sexual harassment, sexual violation, and outright rape by prominent men, even though I do not really have anything to contribute to the discussion beyond what many others have said and are saying. I cannot very well run a blog and yet ignore what everyone is talking about. Like everyone else, I am struck by three things.
First, it is almost always the case that a man who is outed for one act of sexual abuse or harassment turns out, on closer examination, to be a serial abuser or harasser. It is not at all surprising that once a woman has the courage to come forward and report what was done to her, many more women appear who have been treated in the same way by the man. These are patterns of behavior deeply rooted in the man’s character. Needless to say, getting away with it once merely emboldens him to try again and again.
Second, it is quite often the case that the man revealed as a sexual abuser is, by any reasonable objective aesthetic measure, an unattractive slob. Harvey Weinstein is the poster boy for this feature of abuse. I mean, let’s face it, very few sexual predators look like Brad Pitt. Nor is it surprising that the abusers are often a good deal older than their victims.
Third, it is, I take it, obvious that these stories are more about the abuse of power than about sexuality simpliciter. There is nothing intrinsically immoral about a man making sexual overtures to a woman [leaving aside marital status and such], or indeed to many women. Some men find a favorable response all or most of the time [did anyone ever say no to Humphrey Bogart?], and some strike out all the time. There is a delicate balance between being too diffident and improperly pushy, to be sure, but between a man and a woman of equal status and social power, there is nothing improper about either of them signaling an interest in sex. The real problem arises when a man with social or economic or political or sheer physical power over a woman uses that power to compel a woman to submit to sex [or, for that matter, to anything else, but that is part of a larger discussion.]
By the way, an idle observation by a compulsive cable news watcher: I have now seen six or eight panel discussions of sexual harassment featuring male and female anchors, commentators, and the like. Every one of the women on those panels is, to my eye, physically more attractive than any of the men. It is worth reflecting on what that tells you.
Which brings me to Roy Moore. His behavior all those years ago was repetitive, creepy, pathetic, abusive, and in at least one case outright illegal. It is also a gift from God, because it might just give the Democrats an otherwise unwinnable Senate seat at a crucial moment. Like Josh Marshall of TPM Daily, I am extremely leery of the Republican desire to initiate an effort to expel him from the Senate, should he be elected. I think that would set an extremely dangerous precedent. Let us suppose my dreams come true and several real socialists [not faux socialists like Bernie Sanders] are elected to the Senate. Does anyone doubt that an effort would be made to unseat them, an effort supported by many Democratic senators as well as all of the Republicans? If Moore is elected, let him serve in that august body. He will be a constant thorn in the side of the Republican Party, who deserve him.