I must say that I am perplexed by all the sexual harassment charges (and firings) that have taken place recently. I guess I’m simply naïve. In my forty-some years in the broadcast biz I never committed any “sexual” harassment and no female ever responded in a similar matter toward me. (My wife knows the women who worked for and with me. She says they would have “knocked my block off” and she’s right!) I think I know the reason it never occurred to me to sexually harass anyone.. In the first place, when I started in broadcasting, there were NO females in it; it was a totally male enterprise. I remember vividly when females first started appearing in my field of work. And, at the sake of sounding unhip and corny, my mama taught me how to act around women. Also, I was too shy, and always have been, to consider making sexual advances to a woman. My wife says that I give off “vibes” that I’m a one woman man. One woman at a time, that is.
But I know sexual harassment happens. It has happened to my wife on a number of occasions before we met. And she always rebuffed men’s advances and it cost her dearly in job promotions – sometimes even leading to her losing a job. Some of the incidents she describes are bizarre. According to her, in those days women expected to be approached by slimeballs and they had learned to just tell the guy to “go to hell” and kept quiet about it. So, according to her, it was the norm “back in the day” and women just put up with it.
They shouldn’t have to. It’s abominable. On the other hand, if the sexual harassment did take place thirty or forty years ago, it really is unfair to charge some male by today’s “hands off” standards for something that occurred when harassment apparently was the norm. I guess this is one of the things like racism – it just stayed undercover until someone (in the case of racism, Dr. King) brought it out in the open for all its ugliness to be seen. I’m glad women are speaking out now and I hope they will continue to do so. But I also hope that men won’t be condemned on the accusation alone. If there is proof, can the son of a bitch. But don’t ruin a man’s life just on the word of a jealous woman. Women have been known to lie, too, you know. I also hope that this trend doesn’t swing to far in the other direction. It wouldn’t help anyone if common courtesies to women are taken as sexual harassment. Decent men are already on edge around women. Common flirtation between the sexes lead to romance and marriage as it should. I’d hate to see that practice die because the fear of sexual harassment ends it.