Harassment takes many forms in the workplace, not just between superiors and employees, but among co-workers as well. They call it a “hostile environment.” Put the word “Sexual” in front, and it can become headline news. Why? Because sex sells, especially if a celebrity or prominent conservative is accused. Unfortunately, while the media are raking in the profits, the people involved watch their careers circle the drain of life.

The recent barrage of complaints raises questions: If they are legitimate, why didn’t the victims come forward before now? Is there payoff lurking behind some of them? What do the victims hope to accomplish by coming forth now? For those accused who have served in political positions for some time, what makes this current political climate ripe for attack?

Whenever I read one of these complaints, I ask myself which of three categories it falls in:

          1 – Assault and Battery. This is a crime. The Juanita Broaddrick accusation against Bill Clinton is an example. We’re not talking about a hand on a knee or a bum, or an arm around a shoulder. It should qualify as a forced physical attempt at sexual gratification.

          2 – Sexual Harassment. A person, usually in a supervisory position, uses coercion to gain sexual favors. It’s a form of entrapment. If the victim refuses to cooperate, damage or loss will ensue. This may take the form of failure to make promotion, of demotion or even job loss. Often damage to the victim’s reputation and job evaluation follows.

          3 – Behavior inappropriate or in bad taste. The person on the receiving end may be offended by comments or gestures, but there are no threats or non-consensual gratifying physical attacks. This seems to be the most popular type reported.

We would be hearing more about the first category if Clinton were a conservative, but currently the media have to divert our attention from Harvey Weinstein and the other liberal sleaze in Hollywood. They dug up people to attack Judge Moore and, I’m sure, the hunt is on for others.

What we’ve read about in Arizona is a lobbyist having a legislator put a hand on her knee, a legislator having an inappropriate remark directed toward her, another female legislator offended when overhearing men conversing, and a legislator using suggestive language during a legislative session. No one spoke out at the time of these incidents because the ones affected by the inappropriate behavior were afraid of retribution.

These folks speaking out are mostly elected officials, people chosen by voters for their character. We expect that character to be strong and capable of standing up to adversity. No one was raped or attacked. No one was coerced. No one was threatened. Someone needs to convince me the victims were actually sexually harassed. All I’ve read about so far are accusations of inappropriate behavior.

People who campaign for a state office develop a thick skin very quickly, and overhearing crude comments from a couple of guys should be water off a duck’s back. Other inappropriate remarks, directed at a legislator personally or to the group, should be similarly ignored. That’s not harassment. It’s just bad taste.

There are policies in place for such crass behavior. They are called manners. We shouldn’t need a formal document dictating proper adult conduct in public. Whether or not there is truth to the recent accusations, the media coverage is disturbing at best and Lord knows how the voters will react.

The second category is another matter. Half a century ago there were no laws or policies against sexual harassment. During my first year of medical school I was propositioned by one of my professors. I was young, naïve, and I handled the matter by insulting his manhood. He set out to flunk me. I went to the head of the department, showing how the professor marked my exams incorrectly, and before shutting the door in my face, the department head explained, “It’s his class and he can run it however he sees fit.”

Forced to repeat a year of medical school, I feared something similar would happen again. In the clinical years to follow, the professors were gentlemen, and I learned to distinguish true sexual harassment from simple inappropriate behavior. After medical school, I traveled to a planet composed at the time solely of men – a residency in General Surgery.

I became a surgeon before I ever met another woman surgeon. That hard shell I built to fend off unwanted propositions or threats from male bottom-dwellers served me well. My colleagues and professors made vulgar remarks, told jokes, talked man-talk as if I wasn’t around, and often complimented me on my appearance. The last thing I was going to do was ask them to change their behavior. I was the minority in their world and, after all, boys will be boys.

There was no reason to be offended. I ignored most of it. As time went by, I noticed I gained more respect because I didn’t ask for any special favors. As time went on, they treated me more like a lady because I allowed them to be men. At no time was there any evidence of sexual harassment.

A Policy should be in place to address true Sexual Harassment, but it must define the need to show threat or coercion leading to damage or loss, and there should be consequence or punishment. A person who files a complaint must demonstrate the damage, loss, or threat incurred. That damage can come in many forms – physical, temporal, psychological, etc. If the complainant can’t document this, it should be written up as inappropriate behavior or bad taste and dealt with accordingly. Whatever is reported, the media will build it into a distraction and that’s the last thing the Republican Party needs.

 

 

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Replies to This Discussion

I agree with Connie. I don't believe these complaints. Men will be men, deal with it and go on. Who's paying these women to go against our Conservative legislators? McCain gang or Who? 

It will be interesting to see how the investigations pan out. If there is any credence to the most recent accusations here in AZ, the person affected needs to understand waiting almost three months to come forward is no way to 1) prevent such behavior from happening again or, 2) expedite emotional healing. These investigations should be handled as "internal affairs" matters, and the whole mess shouldn't be in front of the media until action, if any, is taken. The old "innocent until proven guilty" doesn't work with the media unless you're a Democrat. And the other phrase that comes to mind -- "let the punishment fit the crime."

I know what you're saying is true about the media, they put this up front before any investigation just be first. There are several legislators that don't feel this person would do anything like this and they are women!

i happen to have an acquaintance with both the accuser and the accused in AZ.  I believe the accuser. I have been at parties with the accused and heard his conversations with other legislators.  Saying that, I agree this should be handled as an internal affairs matter until a resolution is found, whatever that resolution is. In this case, I saw a report that the accuser DID take it to leadership and was brushed off.

The media is brought in with high profile people because it's effective in screwing up the thinking of the public. That's the intent.  But we are getting smarter about what we hear and believe. The left has gone way too far now.  Look at the Menendez case. There are photos of him with prostitutes in some country in Asia. There is one reason to spend time with prostitutes.  He got a bye from the court even with proof because he's a high profile democrat. While Moore gets indicted with NO proof.  If the left & liberal right gets away with this, our gov is lost and they don't care.

Your last paragraph spells it all out perfectly. I see the problem is not necessarily that of the "seriousness of the charge" but the fault lying right in front of our eyes ... the need for TORT reform ... to eliminate unnecessary and many times false acquisitions for personal destruction. It is the liberal left who set out to make laws from the bench which demeans our Republic and the democracy found in our American legislative process guaranteed by the Constitution. It is not that these behavioral problems exist in society, they do within the individual, but it is how we truthfully deal with the perpetrators of such actions and our desire to regain the higher moral ground from despots. 

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