*Unless something has happened in the past two days since I wrote this column, Matt Lauer and Russell Simmons are the last two popular figures to be outed as someone with a history of sexual harassment. Two thoughts occur to me.
First – I’m not sure how any powerful person, but particularly men, can casually flirt or have sex anymore. Any person who has influence can always be accused of using that influence to persuade those without influence to do certain things. All of the celebrities who have been accused of (and many admitted to) this kind of behavior have made such stories all the more believable. Were I single and powerful I’m not sure I could trust anyone that expressed interest in me. It could be said that the easy solution would be to restrict oneself to a single sexual partner but that is typically not how powerful people act.
And although my point of view on this matter is equally applicable to men and women it is especially a problem for men to deal with. As evidenced by recent history and how men are being named as harassers, women generally don’t find themselves in this kind of trouble.
Second – it is well past the time that people should be surprised that people, especially influential people, have always taken liberties when presented with the opportunity. Often they create the opportunity. So after finding out that priests, who theoretically have some ethical compulsion to restrain their impulses, were indulging their sexual instincts, it should be no big revelation that comedians, actors, and people who read words well (newscasters) should do the same. It might be time for people to get over it. This doesn’t mean that anyone who makes unwanted sexual advances towards others should not face consequences. But it does mean we don’t need to harp on the consequences or any particular situation.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.