Is Sexually Predatory Behavior Really on the Run in America?

Ideas and Issues
Ashley Judd

New Orleans  Here’s the picture we’re supposed to be getting from the mass media about sexually predatory behavior. It’s an old, white man problem, and it’s being rooted out in office after office, boardroom after boardroom.

We have the pantheon of Fox News and network stars caught, as we might say, with their pants around their ankles. There was Roger Ailes, the big boss, there was Bill O’Reilly, the big star, Eric Bolling, and now even the female general counsel for assisting in the cover-up. All proclaim innocence. Of course there was candidate and now President Trump. Now there is Harvey Weinstein the Hollywood mogul, outed not by some whistleblower or victim, but the New York Times with the New Yorker, supposedly on the story behind them.

Weinstein was busted like a balloon with a record of eight payouts over several decades. Progressive actress Ashley Judd, talked about his hitting on her when she was an ingenue, and did so fearlessly. Voice after voice spread the word that this was all common knowledge, and started wondering how many lawyers, agents, and representatives were sending their young, female clients into the devil’s den over the years. We haven’t heard the last of this.

Weistein’s statement was the height of privilege, narcissism, and dissembling. Wrapped in Hollywood and New Agey, self-help-therapy slush, he claimed he recognized the problem, had caused pain, had a counselor, and, essentially, was “working on it.” Balderdash! All of that is a euphemism for the truth which sounds like, “damn, I got caught,” I’ll make some donations and take a leave. Was there remorse? Not really. Instead, the coward tried to rationalize that he was a product of his raising by saying he came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, as if that would give him an old boys’ pass like Roger and Donald tried to grab, when they weren’t trying to grab something else. His so-called adviser called him a “dinosaur” to help in the subterfuge.

Are you kidding? Who believes that? The 60s and 70s was the time of women “rising,” when all of the rest of us got the message and took it to heart that we had to get our acts together and do so pretty damn quick, because young women then, and the trend just continued, were not going to take it anymore. So except in some deep hollows and hideaway cults, most of us realized we had to either adjust or live alone, so even stumbling and stalling from time to time, we got with the program.

So that rationalization is just that, but it’s really not just about women, its a statement of class privilege for the rich and powerful. They didn’t change, because they didn’t have to do so. They continued to exploit women in the most horrible and grotesque ways because they could, given the inordinate power balance.

And, worse, it’s not just old, rich white men. Looking at the Uber CEO and some of the other tech startups, its clear that power, money, and privilege have an unlimited age range when it comes to men exploiting women sexually, if they think they can get away with it. A Times media commentator called for a dinosaur hunt throughout Hollywood. Heck, there was another headline about the State Street Bank, the company that sponsored the “fearless girl” statute on Wall Street having to pay $5 million to 300 women who worked for them for underpaying them based on gender. Why? Probably because they could.

We don’t need a dinosaur hunt. We need a full scale manhunt, young and old, that confronts the sexual exploitation of women wherever and whenever there is a power, privilege, and wealth imbalance. Truth to tell, that’s pretty much everywhere, so good hunting!