Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Random Thoughts on Weinsteingate

I must confess that, while reading SSC's post on Overgendering Harassment, to having a what-was-he-wearing reaction to the problem of female-on-male sexual harassment along the lines I have written about here, for instance. This isn't to say that I think specific cases are funny or sexy; on the contrary, the account of one of Scott's commenters is genuinely harrowing. But it's rather like listening to someone complain how awful the jetlag is on their annual vacation to Maui: dude, you have an annual vacation to Maui? I managed to provoke almost zero interest, even from unattractive girls, until age 27, and even today, my median social experience with women-not-my-wife is passing them in the hallway as they decline to make so much as eye contact. Now I will admit that I should be more comfortable than I tend to be with my mix of trade-offs; after all, my romantic life eventually turned out well, with a happy marriage to a loving and faithful woman. But let me turn the question around: which of these male victims would trade places with me: no sexual harassment, and also no dating, let alone sex, for ten years after high school, during which you will have no assurance that things will ever get better?

For that matter, I suppose I could ask female victims of harassment the same question. And I understand that there are good reasons why the psychic toll of sexual harassment is greater on the median woman than it is on the median man. But, what if her ratio of wanted and unwanted sexual interest were fixed, and she could only control the overall frequency. Would she really pick zero of both?

It is satisfying to see high-profile Democrats (suddenly) held to the same standards that the rest of us have been living under for 25 years. That doesn't change the fact that those standards are mostly stupid. They were stupid at Tailhook and the Clarence Thomas hearings, and they are stupid today.

The conduct at issue the last couple of months is all over the severity map. On the one extreme we have Weinstein and Conyers, who (it is alleged) backed up their appetites with an elaborate system of rewards and punishments, blackmail and payoff. In the middle we have Spacey and the Frankengroper, who, at a minimum, assumed far more than was warranted about their own attractiveness; and, at maximum, committed assault. But by the time we get to, say, Garrison Keillor, I don't actually have a problem with imposing the burden on women (or men) to say, "please don't do that". But unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), Weinsten's Caligula-level depravity anchored the issue in the public mind. So now all of them are having their statues pulled down, their parks and schools renamed.

We might have hoped for a new consensus: "zero-tolerance for sexual assault" is to apply a dumb-as-rocks policy to a weaselly category. But that doesn't look very likely at present.

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