We wade where other bloggers dare not tread,
Let us first say that there never, ever, is an excuse for any individual to sexually harass another.
We further state we understand that sexual harassment and coercion comes in many forms and that one such nefarious form is the pressure and/or harassment by a person who has power in the context of work, over another. A supervisor cannot pressure a subordinate to engage in sexual relations. A supervisor cannot engage in unwanted sexual talk or contact. Period. And these common decency rules have been broken for as long as people woke up and commuted to work. And before that. So this is not a new problem.
But what interests us is, where do we draw the line?
May a man never again ask a woman (or man) who is their subordinate at work out on a date?
There are millions of happy marriages that started out with people meeting at work. In our own small world, we know of Judges who have married court reporters, and lawyers who, as young ASAs or PDs, have met and then married their work assistants.
Are such assignations now verboten in every and any form?
And how do we treat those who have violated the rules?
We are of course aware of the young woman, who being served white wine, when she actually likes red wine, has since called her date with comedian Aziz Ansari "the worst night" of her incredibly tragic life. And with her with sympathize. Many a night was ruined for us when a client ordered a cheap domestic wine. Such indignities, along with similar tragedies like global drought, children dying of the flu or hunger, must be stopped. Perhaps "#letherchoosethewine" should become a national movement?
But what do we do with people in power who act inappropriately?
Perhaps they should be immediately exposed, removed from office, dismissed like some piece of conscienceless trash?
And thus we come to this....
General Dwight D Eisenhower was the Supreme Allied Commander in WWII. He unified the allied nations against tyranny, and fought a world war spanning Europe to the Pacific, without the basic technological aides we have today. He alone bore the crushing decision on when and where to invade Europe, what we now celebrate as D-Day. He alone made the hundreds of decisions every day, for four years, dealing with generals from different countries who complained about other allied generals. (British General Montgomery and Patton would have, if given the chance, turned their armies against each other). Eisenhower did a job he was uniquely qualified for, and he did it better than any human being could have. And he had an affair with a young female aide decades younger than him. She worked for him. He slept with her. He won the war, He was later elected president and steered the country through a major conflict in Korea, avoiding a third world war with China, when his generals were telling him to use nuclear weapons. What should have been done with Ike in 1943- before D-Day, when his improper relationship started? Should he have been fired?
What about President Franklin Roosevelt? Widely considered one of the three or four greatest presidents in US history. He brought the US out of a recession, and navigated a rocky domestic relationship with isolationists, while struggling to keep England supplied. Once the war started, the pressures on Roosevelt were enormous. His dealings with Stalin and Churchill were magnificent. He set the stage for US policy for the second half of the twentieth century. And before he was elected president, Roosevelt had an affair with a younger woman. Was Franklin Roosevelt unfit for office? Would the country and the world have been better with Wendell Wilkie as president during WWII?
Consider Lyndon Johnson. A known and serial philanderer. He treated women awfully. Screaming at secretaries, ordering them to wear short skirts and tight blouses. But it was only Johnson, a former democratic senator from the south, who could as President shepherd the monumental 1964 Civil Rights Bill though congress. Would the country have been better served if Estes Kefauver was JFK's vice president? We wouldn't have had a civil rights bill in the 1960's but we would have had a VP who didn't sexually use younger women.
And speaking of civil rights, Martin Luther King is a martyr for civil rights. And he cheated on his wife. Should his personal actions have resulted in him being removed as a leader of civil rights? Would the country have been better off without Dr. King?
JFK and his brother RFK saved the world from nuclear holocaust. They resisted the advice of their generals to invade Cuba during the missile crisis. That would have resulted in an exchange of nuclear weapons with the Soviet Union. They saved the world. They both habitually cheated on their spouses. President Kennedy did so in the White House. Numerous times. Washington Post Editor Ben Bradlees's first wife basically accused President Kennedy- decades after the event- of sexually assaulting her while she and Bradlee were on the Presidential yacht during a party.
So what do we do with these men, all too human, with human frailties, who acted inappropriately with women? And in almost every instance did so with women while they were in positons of power.
Should their names be stricken from history? Should their accomplishments be diminished because of their sexual infidelities? And if you look further into specific episodes you will see that many encounters these men had were not considered consensual by the women they slept with.
We are just wondering how equal Monica Lewinsky felt with the president of the United States when she performed oral sex on Bill Clinton in the oval office. Was that rape? It wasn't as tragic as being forced to drink white wine, but still...
Where do we draw the line? How do we handle this?
From Occupied America, where things are getting very strange and difficult, Fight The Power. #Ustoo
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