First: An Observation: There are millions (likely tens of millions) of men shaking in their boots now about the next “sexual harassment” accusations.
Now: The Anecdote: Twenty years or so ago, in a job several jobs ago, when I was in the Information Technology realm, I was in the equipment room looking for a printer to deploy in the financial services company where I worked.
The equipment room was in the basement, its door locked from the inside and the outside, and it was separated from all our offices by three full floors of the office building in which we worked. This place was isolated.
A colleague of mine, a very attractive woman, came with me, ostensibly to assist me in selecting the printer, setting it up and eventually deploying it. However, shortly after we arrived at the equipment room, and as soon as the door shut behind us, Doreen (not her real name) came over to me and unsubtly suggested that we have sex.
I was married at the time and, completely taken aback, I kind of jokingly, suggesting that I “knew” she was just kidding (We men are particularly adept at providing women with opportunities to save face.) and that “my wife wouldn’t approve.”
My colleague didn’t take the opportunity to turn it into a funny episode and an inside joke between the two of us. She pressed the case, telling me that she really thought “we should make love.” (her words)
Extremely gently, I said that I couldn’t (read: “I wouldn’t,” but I was trying to be gentle) because I was married, and that she was certainly very attractive, but I didn’t believe it would be right to have sex with her, and that I wouldn’t say anything to anyone about all this, and that I’d forget all about it, and that as far as I was concerned, it had never happened. It all came out in kind of a jumble. Bottom line: I refused. Awkwardly, but unmistakably.
At that point, she became visibly upset and said that she might go to HR to report me. When I demanded to know for what, she simply replied, “Sexual harassment.”
Then she told me of “why” she had made her advances. It was because, you see, I had “been dropping all these hints, had been flirting with her, had been making it obvious that I wanted to ‘do something’ with her.”
She went on for a few minutes, and I realized that she was (1) on-the-spot inventing a face-saving way to explain her advances toward me, and (2) fabricating the “he-said-she-said” case she might make to immunize herself against any potential sexual harassment claim that I might make against her!
Gobsmacked, I went silent, looked at Doreen and said something like, “Now, we both know that none of that is true.”
She was silent for a moment, then broke down and started crying. Out came a deluge of sob- and hiccup-interrupted emotion. She told me that she was so lonely, and that she’d been hoping that I could comfort her, and that if we were to make love then surely I’d find a way to love her, and that she knew she could make me happy, and a whole lot of other, just, stuff like that.
In this long confessional, which I listened to, still stunned, from the printer stand on which I sat, I learned also that, according to her, she had just broken up with her boyfriend, and that he had left her unceremoniously, and that she wouldn’t mind both getting even with him, and getting back at men in general.
Wow! I also understood that I was potentially in some real trouble!
I listened to her for a while, and then repeated some platitudes, including about how I found her very attractive, but that I just didn’t believe in extra-marital affairs, and that as far as I was concerned we could both consider this something that had never happened at all, and that we’d both forget about it as soon as we left the equipment room.
Snuffling a bit, and red-eyed she agreed. We left the equipment room, and I walked her to the ladies’ room where she was able to compose herself. From that moment on, I made sure never to be alone with her again. I’ve also made sure since then, never to be alone or unaccompanied with a woman in any other professional circumstance.
Over time, my relationship with this young woman slowly repaired itself, and we both went from being hyper-wary around each other, to being comfortable. As if the incident in the equipment room had never happened.
It was a long time, however, before I stopped worrying about whether or not, out of the blue, and for who knows what reason, she’d go to HR with her cockamamie story.
After a while, Doreen began to date another one of my colleagues, and eventually married him. We even became kinda-sorta friends. At that point, some years later, I stopped worrying about whether she would ruin my career, and my life.
Now: Some More Observations: Since I get to be anonymous on this blog, I can tell you all this. And, even though all this happened more than two decades ago, I realize that if Doreen were to take it into her head to do so, she still could ruin my career with her fabricated accusation. I have no doubt whatsoever that if she were to call the head of HR at my current employer and “tell her story,” I’d be fired immediately.
Furthermore, I’ve spoken with colleagues… they’ve all, to a man, had something similar happen to them in either personal, social or professional circumstances. You and I have heard all the hysterical statistics about how “dangerous” it is to be a woman in America. It’s also true that for 100% of men, the prospect of a false accusation of sexual impropriety is a constant worry.
It’s also true that there doesn’t even need to have been an incident around which to concoct some kind of accusation. There needs only to be an accusation, for the career and often the life of a man to be completely derailed. That realization had crossed my mind in my interaction with Doreen as well!
One of my friends looks like a young version of George Clooney. He’s a really nice guy, a strong Christian and a great family man and daddy. I’d long heard rumors that he’d had to fend off such things in the past, and was unsurprised to learn that this had happened to him dozens of times. As it had to me in my even younger days when I was an underwear model in Paris. My George Clooney-lookalike friend told me that he’d learned never, ever to allow himself under any circumstances to be unaccompanied with a woman who was not his wife.
I’ll be writing more on this topic in the future, because it’s so over-the-top burning, and because of what we all know will happen, and has, in fact, already begun: men, the vast majority of whom are entirely innocent of any wrongdoing (Important note: but not for all their lives!) will all be tarred with the broadest of brushes as either active predators, or predators-in-waiting.
Furthermore, there are so many things that simply don’t add up at all in all this.
Garrison Keillor, one of the latest lefties to be tossed overboard from Leftism for “sexual impropriety,” said something on the order of, “If I had a dollar for every time a woman’s hand wandered as she took a selfie with me, I’d have a hundred dollars.” Frankly, I tend to believe him. Politically, Garrison Keillor is a nitwit, but I doubt that he’s a “predator.”
Furthermore, if I had a dollar for every such incident as Keillor describes, I’d have more than a thousand dollars. And, if I had a dollar for every time a woman said something overtly sexually suggestive to me in a professional surrounding, I’d have thousands of additional dollars.
More to the point, there is a simple truth that we men have long understood: women use sex as a weapon far more than men do. Why? Simple: it’s an arrow in women’s quiver, that’s not in men’s quiver. And, as Ron White once said, “They… use it!” They’ve done that to me many times in the past, as well as to all my friends. This is a massive discredit to the women who do it, but not to all women. Furthermore, it’s not a permanent discredit to any one woman who has used it on men. It’s a weapon, simple as that.
And so is the accusation of sexual impropriety. It’s impossible at this point, to tell when it’s merely a weapon, and when it’s true.
But, let’s face it, for far too many women and men, the relationship between the sexes is a power struggle. And in that power struggle, of course women use all the weapons at their disposal! Seriously, let’s not be naïve about that!
Last Observation: There are tens of millions of men shaking in their boots now about the next “sexual harassment” accusations. Most of whom are innocent of any wrongdoing at all.