Sean Hannity is the latest Fox News host to be accused of “sexual harassment.” Debbie Schlussel went on a radio show last week and claimed that he once invited her back to his hotel room. She declined, she says, and was then allegedly banned from coming back on his show. Hannity strenuously denied the allegations and promised to sue for slander. Schlussel, within 48 hours, changed her story and clarified that she wasn’t actually harassed, although she maintains that the hotel rendezvous was indeed proposed.
Personally, I don’t believe any part of her accusation. The woman is clearly a kook, her story is evolving conspicuously, and she conveniently waited to speak up until O’Reilly and Ailes had been knocked off and Hannity was the next prominent Fox figure on the chopping block. But even if Hannity is innocent — and I’m sure he is — this absurd allegation will leave a stain on his reputation regardless. The pitchfork mob on social media began to lump Hannity in with O’Reilly and Ailes immediately, even though there have been no other accusers and the one accuser we’ve heard from is a certified fruitcake. It doesn’t matter, though. The story is out there.
O’Reilly and Ailes are different because there have been many accusers over a much longer period of time. That doesn’t make all of the claims true — I have trouble taking seriously the women who’ve complained of O’Reilly’s sexism yet appeared on his show hundreds of times anyway, and even publicly defended him against sexism charges in the past — but it’s harder to dismiss them all out of hand. But the point is that I don’t know for sure what happened. The whole problem for women is that these inappropriate advances are usually made when nobody else is there to testify to it. And the whole problem for men is the exact same thing.
What we do know for sure is that some men are indecent, abusive, obnoxious, desperate pigs. Some men will use their authority or influence to demand attention and sexual favors from their female coworkers and subordinates. Some men treat women with even less dignity than they treat themselves. Some men are, in a word, bad. And there have always been bad men, and there always will be bad men.
On the other end of the spectrum — or perhaps on the same end — some women are manipulative, dishonest, vengeful, desperate, liars. Some women will take advantage of circumstances to tear down their male coworkers and bosses with empty lies, accusations, and innuendos. Some women will shout “rape” or “harassment” out of spite. Some women are, in a word, bad. And there have always been bad women, and there always will be bad women.
Sometimes the bad men and the bad women end up in the same company, and inevitably they’ll find themselves in the same room together alone, and that’s when Hell really breaks loose. The bad woman, because she is bad, will attempt to provoke an inappropriate comment from the bad man, and the bad man, because he is bad, will be more than happy to comply. Then, when they start accusing each other, there’s nothing for the rest of us to do but load the both of them into a rocket ship and send them to Pluto (if the law and modern technology would allow it).
It’s a dicey situation, especially when you consider how there are no generally accepted rules of etiquette to govern social interactions anymore. People are often vulgar, immodest, and undignified, which blurs the lines and makes it difficult to tell what’s “harassment” and what’s, by our standards, a “normal” exchange between people of the opposite sex. I’ve had men tell me that they’ve been accused of harassment at work by women who are extremely provocative and flirtatious. Is it fair for these women to suddenly become offended by the inappropriate dynamic they have taken great pains to establish? Do they get to flip the switch whenever they feel like it? “Sorry, I’m actually not in the mood for that kind of talk today. Guess I’ll have to go get you fired and ruin your life! Next time learn to read my mind!”
Our college campuses are the most potent demonstration of how this plays out. Young men and women who lack moral formation immerse themselves in alcohol-fueled, sexually charged environments, and, shockingly, nothing good ever comes of it. Drunk, susceptible girls get exploited and assaulted, and drunk, susceptible guys get accused of exploitation and assault after an encounter that, at the time, was consensual for both participants. It’s a lose/lose for everyone. What can you really do about it — besides to continue pretending this is a simple, one-sided issue, and men always bear 100 percent of the blame?
Well, here’s one idea: you can avoid these situations entirely. Or at least to the best of your ability. I don’t mean to reopen ancient wounds here, but you can adopt the apparently wise and prudent policy that Mike Pence and his wife have used in their marriage. Even if you aren’t married, I think you can still basically apply this strategy at work and in social situations to protect yourself from falling victim to harassment or false allegations of harassment.
At work, you can dress professionally and behave professionally towards everyone. If a woman dresses like she’s a 19-year-old sorority girl at a frat party, and behaves in the same way, acting flirtatious and familiar with the men in the office, she has created an inappropriate environment. If someone responds to those cues, she is partly to blame. And if a man carries on like one of the frat boys at that same frat party, making vulgar and sexual comments, he has also created an inappropriate environment. If he is accused of harassment, even by someone who previously seemed quite fine with it, he cannot claim to be a victim. He played a part, so did she. It would have been best for both parties to have simply acted with modesty and dignity to begin with.
And it behooves you to be even more careful than that. You can also refrain, as much as possible, from being in a room alone with a member of the opposite sex. That doesn’t mean you need to run out of the break room screaming if someone of the other gender walks in while you’re pouring a cup of coffee, but it does mean that you should limit the time you spend in that situation. It’s less likely that you’ll be harassed, or be accused of harassment, by someone you’ve only ever encountered in a group.
Outside of work, a married man simply shouldn’t hang out socially one-on-one with a woman who isn’t his wife, and he should be careful about drinking at a work party or some other gathering if his wife isn’t by his side. Mike Pence’s idea is to be absolutely above reproach and immune from suspicion. We should all have the same goal, and we achieve it by severely limiting the opportunities for inappropriate behavior to occur, or be alleged to have occurred.
Like I said, even unmarried people can benefit from this philosophy. Obviously, an unmarried man needs to go out to dinners and so forth with members of the opposite sex if he ever wants to be a married man, but he should still exercise prudence and caution. As for college students, they could almost eliminate the risk of assault and false assault allegations by never getting black out drunk in mixed company (or in any kind of company). This is a pretty modest precaution, but it would almost completely eradicate the so-called “rape epidemic” that supposedly plagues our nation’s universities.
Of course, people in our culture — liberals, I mean — will read all of this and recoil in horror. They are terribly offended by the notion that they ought to in any way adjust their own behavior. Rather than protect themselves from bad people, their solution is that the bad people stop being bad. A woman ought to be able to run through the streets drunk and naked at 2 in the morning and return home unmolested, they say. She ought to be able to wear nothing but a thong to work and never hear an inappropriate comment from anyone. Harassers shouldn’t harass. Assaulters shouldn’t assault. Rapists shouldn’t rape. They basically deny that false accusations ever occur, but if they did acknowledge them, I suppose they’d have the same brilliant answer. False accusers shouldn’t falsely accuse. Bad things just shouldn’t happen. Everyone should be nice and act nicely and nice things should happen and gumdrops should rain from clouds made of cotton candy and happy dreams.
Yes, perhaps all of these things should be the case. But they aren’t. Harassers know they shouldn’t harass, yet they do. And rapists know they shouldn’t rape, yet they do. And women who lie and attempt to destroy the reputations of good men know they shouldn’t do that, yet they do. This is human nature, and one of the (many) problems with liberalism is that it steadfastly refuses to acknowledge it. Liberalism’s solution to human nature is to yell and scream until it changes, but it won’t change. Not in this life, anyway. So the best thing we can do is accept the reality and work within its parameters. You can’t insulate yourself completely from bad things and bad people, but you can do your best to avoid them both.
This is really not such a radical concept.
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