Katie Roiphe writes: No one would talk to me for this piece. Or rather, more than twenty women talked to me, sometimes for hours at a time, but only after I promised to leave out their names, and give them what I began to call deep anonymity. This was strange, because what they were saying did not always seem that extreme. Yet here in my living room, at coffee shops, in my inbox and on my voicemail, were otherwise outspoken female novelists, editors, writers, real estate agents, professors, and journalists of various ages so afraid of appearing politically insensitive that they wouldn’t put their names to their thoughts, and I couldn’t blame them.
Of course, the prepublication frenzy of Twitter fantasy and fury about this essay, which exploded in early January, is Exhibit A for why nobody wants to speak openly. Before the piece was even finished, let alone published, people were calling me “pro-rape,” “human scum,” a “harridan,” a “monster out of Stephen King’s ‘IT,’?” a “ghoul,” a “bitch,” and a “garbage person”—all because of a rumor that I was planning to name the creator of the so-called Shitty Media Men list. The Twitter feminist Jessica Valenti called this prospect “profoundly shitty” and “incredibly dangerous” without having read a single word of my piece. Other tweets were more direct: “man if katie roiphe actually publishes that article she can consider her career over.” “Katie Roiphe can suck my dick.” With this level of thought policing, who in their right mind would try to say anything even mildly provocative or original?
For years, women confined their complaints about sexual harassment to whisper networks for fear of reprisal from men. This is an ugly truth about our recent past that we are just now beginning to grapple with. But amid this welcome reckoning, it seems that many women still fear varieties of retribution (Twitter rage, damage to their reputations, professional repercussions, and vitriol from friends) for speaking out—this time, from other women. They are, in other words, inadvertently creating a new whisper network. Can this possibly be a good thing?
Most of the new whisperers feel as I do, exhilarated by the moment, by the long-overdue possibility of holding corrupt and bullying men such as Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer to account for their actions. They strongly share some of its broader goals: making it possible for women to work unbothered and unharassed even outside the bubble of Hollywood and the media, breaking down the structures that have historically protected powerful men. Yet they are also slightly uneasy at the weird energy behind this movement, a weird energy it is sometimes hard to pin down.
Here are some things these professional women said to me on the condition that their names be withheld:
I think “believe all women” is silly. Women are unreliable narrators also. I understand how hard it is to come forward, but I just don’t buy it. It’s a sentimental view of women. . . . I think there is more regretted consent than anyone is willing to say out loud.
If someone had sent me the Media Men list ten years ago, when I was twenty-five, I would have called a harmlessly enamored guy a stalker and a sloppy drunken encounter sexual assault. I’d hate myself now for wrecking two lives.
One thing people don’t say is that power is an aphrodisiac. . . . To pretend otherwise is dishonest.
What seems truly dangerous to me is the complete disregard the movement shows for a sacred principle of the American criminal justice system: the presumption of innocence. I come from Mexico, whose judicial system relied, until 2016, on the presumption of guilt, which translated into people spending decades, sometimes lifetimes, in jail before even seeing a judge.
I have never felt sexually harassed. I said this to someone the other day, and she said, “I am sure you are wrong.”
Al Franken asked for an investigation and he should have been allowed to have it; the facts are still ambiguous, the sources were sketchy.
Why didn’t I get hit on? What’s wrong with me? #WhyNotMeToo
I think #MeToo is a potentially valuable tool that is degraded when women appropriate it to encompass things like “creepy DMs” or “weird lunch ‘dates.’” And I do not think touching a woman’s back justifies a front page in the New York Times and the total annihilation of someone’s career.
I have a long history with this feeling of not being able to speak. In the early Nineties, death threats were phoned into Shakespeare and Company, an Upper West Side bookstore where I was scheduled to give a reading from my book The Morning After.That night, in front of a jittery crowd and a sprinkling of police, I read a passage comparing the language in the date-rape pamphlets given out on college campuses to Victorian guides to conduct for young ladies. When I read at universities, students who considered themselves feminists shouted me down. It was an early lesson in the chilling effect of feminist orthodoxy.
But social media has enabled a more elaborate intolerance of feminist dissenters, as I just personally experienced. Twitter, especially, has energized the angry extremes of feminism in the same way it has energized Trump and his supporters: the loudest, angriest, most simplifying voices are elevated and rendered normal or mainstream.
In 1996, a six-year-old boy with Coke-bottle glasses, Johnathan Prevette, was suspended from school for sexual harassment after kissing a little girl on the cheek. This was widely interpreted as a sign of excess: as the New York Times put it, a “doctrine meant to protect against sexual harassment might have reached a damaging level of absurdity.” Yet I wonder what would happen today. Wouldn’t feminists be tweeting, “Don’t first grade girls have a right to feel safe?” Wouldn’t the new whisperers keep quiet?
One thing that makes it hard to engage with the feminist moment is the sense of great, unmanageable anger. Given what men have gotten away with for centuries, this anger is understandable. Yet it can also lead to an alarming lack of proportion. Rebecca Traister, one of the smartest and most prominent voices of the #MeToo movement, writes:
The rage that many of us are feeling doesn’t necessarily correspond with the severity of the trespass: Lots of us are on some level as incensed about the guy who looked down our shirt at a company retreat as we are about Weinstein, even if we can acknowledge that there’s something nuts about that, a weird overreaction.
At first glance, this seems honest and insightful of her. She seems, for a moment, to recognize the energy that is unnerving some of us, an anger not interested in making distinctions between Harvey Weinstein and the man looking down your shirt—an anger that is, as Traister herself puts it, “terrifyingly out of control.” But weirdly, she also seems to be fine with it, even roused. When Trump supporters let their anger run terrifyingly out of control, we are alarmed, and rightly so. Perhaps Traister should consider that “I am so angry I am not thinking straight” is not the best mood in which to radically envision and engineer a new society. Read the rest of this entry »
The #MeToo moment has now morphed into a moral panic that poses as much danger to women as it does to men.
Claire Berlinski writes: #Metoo, of course. Women are not going nuts for no reason. We’re fed up with feeling prickles down our spine as we walk alone on dimly lit streets. Fed up with thinking, “If he feels entitled to send me that message, what might he feel entitled to do to if he knew where I lived?” Fed up with strangers who smack their lips and murmur obscenities at us. Fed up with thinking, “No, I don’t want to go to his hotel room to discuss closing the contract. I’ll have to tell him my husband’s waiting for me to call. ‘My husband? Oh, yes, he’s pathologically jealous, bless his heart, and a bit of a gun nut…’” My husband is perfect in every way but one—he doesn’t exist—but he has served me so well over the years that I’m willing to overlook his ontological defects. I shouldn’t need him, but I do.
I’ve been fortunate. My encounters with law enforcement have been contrary to reputation: The police have taken me seriously, once arresting a stalker when he failed to heed a warning to cease and desist. But too many women have been murdered because they could not persuade the police to take them seriously. That stalker doubtless believes he was “unjustly accused” and “his life destroyed” by a hysterical woman. He’s full of it. I’ll bet he did the same thing to many women before me. Sexual predation tends to be a lifelong pattern.
Among us, it seems, lives a class of men who call to mind Caligula and Elagabalus not only in their depravity, but in their grotesque sense of impunity. Our debauched emperors, whether enthroned in Hollywood, media front offices, or the halls of Congress, truly imagined their victims had no choice but to shut up, take it, and stay silent forever. Many of these men are so physically disgusting, too—the thought of them forcing themselves on young women fills me with heaving disgust. Enough already.
All true; yet something is troubling me. Recently I saw a friend—a man—pilloried on Facebook for asking if #metoo is going too far. “No,” said his female interlocutors. “Women have endured far too many years of harassment, humiliation, and injustice. We’ll tell you when it’s gone too far.” But I’m part of that “we,” and I say it is going too far. Mass hysteria has set in. It has become a classic moral panic, one that is ultimately as dangerous to women as to men.
If you are reading this, it means I have found an outlet that has not just fired an editor for sexual harassment. This article circulated from publication to publication, like old-fashioned samizdat, and was rejected repeatedly with a sotto voce, “Don’t tell anyone. I agree with you. But no.” Friends have urged me not to publish it under my own name, vividly describing the mob that will tear me from limb to limb and leave the dingoes to pick over my flesh. It says something, doesn’t it, that I’ve been more hesitant to speak about this than I’ve been of getting on the wrong side of the mafia, al-Qaeda, or the Kremlin?
But speak I must. It now takes only one accusation to destroy a man’s life. Just one for him to be tried and sentenced in the court of public opinion, overnight costing him his livelihood and social respectability. We are on a frenzied extrajudicial warlock hunt that does not pause to parse the difference between rape and stupidity. The punishment for sexual harassment is so grave that clearly this crime—like any other serious crime—requires an unambiguous definition. We have nothing of the sort.
In recent weeks, one after another prominent voice, many of them political voices, have been silenced by sexual harassment charges. Not one of these cases has yet been adjudicated in a court of law. Leon Wieseltier, David Corn, Mark Halperin, Michael Oreskes, Al Franken, Ken Baker, Rick Najera, Andy Signore, Jeff Hoover, Matt Lauer, even Garrison Keillor—all have received the professional death sentence. Some of the charges sound deadly serious. But others—as reported anyway—make no sense. I can’t say whether the charges against these men are true; I wasn’t under the bed. But even iftrue, some have been accused of offenses that aren’t offensive, or offenses that are only mildly so—and do not warrant total professional and personal destruction. Read the rest of this entry »
Ramin Setoodeh reports: As the co-host of NBC’s “Today,” Matt Lauer once gave a colleague a sex toy as a present. It included an explicit note about how he wanted to use it on her, which left her mortified.
On another day, he summoned a different female employee to his office, and then dropped his pants, showing her his penis. After the employee declined to do anything, visibly shaken, he reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.
He would sometimes quiz female producers about who they’d slept with, offering to trade names. And he loved to engage in a crass quiz game with men and women in the office: “f—, marry, or kill,” in which he would identify the female co-hosts that he’d most like to sleep with.
These accounts of Lauer’s behavior at NBC are the result of a two-month investigation by Variety, with dozens of interviews with current and former staffers. Variety has talked to three women who identified themselves as victims of sexual harassment by Lauer, and their stories have been corroborated by friends or colleagues that they told at the time. They have asked for now to remain unnamed, fearing professional repercussions.
On Wednesday, NBC announced that Lauer was fired from “Today.” It was a stunning move for a co-host who was widely considered the crown jewel of the network’s news division, with a $25 million annual salary. The cause of his dismissal, according to sources, was a detailed complaint from another current NBC employee about inappropriate sexual conduct from Lauer that started on a trip at the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and continued for several months.
The employee met with human resources at NBC on Monday night … (read more)
Minnesota Public Radio said Wednesday that it was severing all business ties with Garrison Keillor, the creator and retired host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” after allegations of “inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him.”
Over four decades, Mr. Keillor, 75, had created a financial juggernaut for the radio network with his weekly broadcast of songs, skits and tales of his fictional hometown Lake Wobegon, along with related books, recordings and other products.
In a statement he provided to The New York Times, Mr. Keillor said, “I’ve been fired over a story that I think is more interesting and more complicated than the version MPR heard. Most stories are.”
Effective immediately, MPR said, it will no longer distribute and broadcast Mr. Keillor’s remaining programs, “The Writer’s Almanac” and “The Best of A Prairie Home Companion Hosted by Garrison Keillor.”
The Clinton campaign (Washington Post) released audio on Friday of Donald Trump talking about hitting on a hot woman in 2005. Hillary Clinton tweeted out that she was “shocked!” in response to the audio! HillaryClinton – “This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president.” Really, Hillary? This is the same woman who threatened Bill Clinton’s accusers in 1998. It is commonly believed by Clinton victims that Hillary was behind the siccing of private investigators on the many women who accused her husband of rape, sexual assault or infidelity in the 1990s. Hillary Clinton revealed her hidden hand when she menacingly issued a clear warning of intimidation to her husband’s accusers (and those who would pursue their charges) on the nationally broadcast Today Show in early 1998 in the days after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.
The Today Show interview with Matt Lauer on January 27, 1998 is famous for Hillary’s claim that a “vast right-wing conspiracy” was behind the allegations of an affair between her husband President Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky. “This is—the great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president. A few journalists have kind of caught on to it and explained it. But it has not yet been fully revealed to the American public. And actually, you know, in a bizarre sort of way, this may do it.” Later in the interview, Hillary bluntly issued her threat: “I think we’re going to find some other things. And I think that when all of this is put into context, and we really look at the people involved here, look at their motivations and look at their backgrounds, look at their past behavior, some folks are going to have a lot to answer for.” Read the rest of this entry »
…That brings me to the broader issue of this alleged “fact-checking” the media feels impelled to engage in during debates. Most of the pushback from moderators last night was arguable assertions or half-truths, and Trump was often debating 3-on-1, as he correctly asserted.
MOLLIE: Oh man, speaking of “fact checkers” you have got to see this.
It’s real, not a parody of fact checking. Totally real. Not photoshpped.
DAVID: Seriously, they’ve lost their minds. There are exceptions, yet so many journalists have been consumed by anti-Trump sentiment that they’ve lost any sense of professionalism — or, more precisely, Trump has given them an excuse to stop pretending. The moderators were hardly any better.
MOLLIE: They were both disasters. Cooper started poorly, visibly displaying anger, constantly interrupting Trump. He kept saying, in playground style, “Please let her talk. She let you talk.” Or something like that. This is just a strategically unwise move, as it seems petty and juvenile.
Raddatz started fine, because she was mostly silent, and got off a few good questions to each candidate, but then she just lost it. A common criticism of moderators is that they think they’re debating the candidates. But in last night’s debate, Raddatz seemed to forget that she wasn’t a candidate herself. The moment where she began debating Trump on foreign policy was epicly awful. Read the rest of this entry »
“The offers were made last week along with several others that were just outrageous. Rachel recognizes that she is going to need an agent and a publicist, and is going to be hiring a professional team in the next few days.”
NAACP race faker Rachel Dolezal stepped down from her job Monday, but RadarOnline.com has learned she already has a new gig in the works: Dolezal is fielding multiple offers to film a reality show, and is seeking professional representation after her bombshell interview on the Today show.
“This is not some freak, Birth of a Nation blackface performance. This is on a real connected level how I’ve had to go there with the experience.”
— Rachel Dolezal
Dolezal, currently in New York City after appearing on TODAY Tuesday morning, has been “offered two reality shows from different production companies,” an insider told Radar.
“The offers were made last week along with several others that were just outrageous. Rachel recognizes that she is going to need an agent and a publicist, and is going to be hiring a professional team in the next few days.”
Rachel Dolezal told NBC’s TODAY show she began identifying herself as black as early as the age of 5 years old, drawing pictures of herself with dark, kinky hair and dark skin.
“I identify as black,” she said. She said her hair style and light brown skin — “I didn’t stay out of the sun” — prompted people to assume she was black. She acknowledged that she didn’t correct people who made the assumption.
It was her first interview since news stories went viral last week detailing how Dolezal’s parents say she is white.
On Monday night, Dolezal’s parents told CNN that when she was growing up, she gave no indication that she might want to take on a new racial identity. Rachel Dolezal’s World Crumbles After Racial Identity Flap.
Rachel Dolezal carefully constructed a life as a black civil rights activist in the last decade in the inland Northwest, but that world is falling apart… Read the rest of this entry »
Dershowitz lamented that “this is a very sad day for justice” and told Steve Malzberg that Mosby acted out of a “desire to prevent riots.” It will be “virtually impossible,” he predicted, for the six officers involved to get a fair trial. Read the rest of this entry »
“The evidence has been hard to ignore. To many Zombie experts, it’s no longer just a theory, our findings are now conclusive.”
NBC Sports host Bob Costas will sit out Tuesday’s primetime coverage on NBC, sticking to the cover story that he has “eye infections” in both eyes. Costas began to promote the “infection in his left eye”, disinformation campaign, now that it’s spread to his right eye, experts are increasingly confident that Bob Costas is, unfortunately, a confirmed Zombie.
“It’s only a matter of time before he’ll need to be captured and placed under permanent supervision…”
“The evidence has been hard to ignore. To many Zombie experts, it’s no longer just a theory, our findings are now conclusive.” Said Dr. Benjamin Hendricks, Director of the American Center for the Ethical Treatment of Zombies, in Baltimore, Maryland. “It’s only a matter of time before he’ll need to be captured and placed under permanent supervision…” Adding that no treatment is available for his condition, Dr. Hendricks declined to go on the record about what final measures might need to be taken. “It doesn’t look good,” he said.
On Monday night’s primetime coverage of the Olympics, Costas was having problems resisting the temptation to attack fellow members of the press, use his hands and teeth to rip the flesh of nearby uninfected humans, and eat brains.
Today show host Matt Lauer–having demonstrated no symptoms of infectious exposure– will take Costas’ place.
“…you want me to take my pants off? You mean…right now?”
William Bigelow reports: NBC’s Katie Couric revealed her colon to the world during The Today Show in 2000. On Thursday, 13 years later, Matt Lauer and Al Roker of Today revealed other bodily orifices in receiving live prostate exams on air. “We should mention, we’re going to do this in a tasteful way – this is not The Learning Channel,” said host Savannah Guthrie. Lauer actually just went into a doctor’s office, shut the door, and emerged triumphantly 34 seconds later, when his doctor told the cameras that his prostate was small, smooth, and free of nodules.
Yes, pop culture is crude, but who gives an F-word? By virtually every measure, we’re a safer, nicer, kinder country.
“I am glad that I’m not raising kids today,” Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia recently told New York magazine. Though known for Torquemada-like inquisitions of lawyers during oral arguments and brutally lapidary prose in his written opinions, the 77-year-old jurist practically gets the vapors when engaging today’s popular culture. “One of the things that upsets me about modern society is the coarseness of manners. You can’t go to a movie—or watch a television show for that matter—without hearing the constant use of the F-word—including, you know, ladies using it…. My goodness!”
I don’t know anyone who would seriously challenge the idea that America has become a far cruder society over the last 10, 20, or 30 years. There’s probably more sex, violence, and salty language in the opening credits of Keeping Up with the Kardashians than there was on all of prime-time TV when Scalia joined the Supreme Court in 1986.
But really, who gives an…F-word? We may well be an increasingly ill-mannered society, one that’s soaking in violent video games, instantly available online porn, and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo like our mothers used to soak in Palmolive liquid. But we’re also one in which youth violence, sex, and drug use are all trending down. If that means putting up with, you know, ladies cursing and other examples of unambiguously crass behavior, it seems a terrifically small price to pay.