Monday, November 20, 2017

Call Homeland Security

I recall following the Terrorist attacks on 9/11 the Department of Homeland Security was created and they promptly came up with the idea of daily threat level warnings which no one other than those involved with with said department know or care. I live in Tennessee we apparently are at threat level 3 - red - every day. Or so they hope. Even our Department of Vehicles are under that branch making getting Drivers Licensees laden with bureaucracy and bullshit. Registering to vote is not much better. All the better to stop voter fraud my dear.

Again if you think Trump is from New York he is by way of the South, the paranoia, the lack of culture, the racism, the raging misogyny/sexism and faux posturing of intelligence are traits we are now seeing globally. Thank God! As I feel less alone. Not better just not alone.

And in the beginning of the #METOO brigade I found it sadly relief-making, not comforting, but more as I said above, not better just not alone. Then it went on too long and too far like a bridge over troubled water I began to wonder what the purpose was and what anyone thought this would accomplish. Some of it needed to be done in private and/or to a Therapist and not in the forum of public consumption. It should only be done that way if the sheer number of women have serious stories of import that can affect public safety and that is the case of Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby. Kevin Spacey honesty I cannot see this ending well for him and one rape is one rape too many but even that should be taken to court and allow a Jury to end that debate.

But Hollywood is and was infamous for its casting couch and stories that people pretend were long past and well guess not.  But at one point what is the point?  This is not shocking, I know!

Then we have the Besh Restuarant Group which there was clearly a problem, not solved but handled. Again if I never hear about him again it is all good. But there is a problem in that industry overall that goes beyond his joints. And Anthony Bourdain can drunkenly write about it all he wants it has never changed since his first diatribe about the industry. Nothing changed then but now possibly it may. Note that famous Chefs and Restaurant owners have been largely mum since if they commented at all. Nuff said.

And more keep coming.   If they are not going into "rehab" they are lawyering up.  Which I love as we have a major legal firm exploiting the paranoia by hiring the Masad to trash anyone who had the audacity to investigate/write/tell their truths about the Weinstein industry. Anyone who thinks David Boies cares about people don't know his history and ego. Gloria Allred is not much better as we know her daughter was one of the Weinstein spokesmodels for a time. Bitch when there is money involved the Lawyers are there to collect the check and be the mouthpiece regardless.

The other marquee names which I won't repeat continue with today Russell Simmons being added to the mix tape.  Well he was good friends with Donald Trump I am sure their locker room talk was fascinating!

Tech sector - really nerds revenge for never getting laid and/or that they have Asperbergers as I wrote about in my previous blog post about that industry.  

Catholic Church - see Spotlight.  Well that would be irony if someone comes forward during the making of the film to say they were assaulted. Jesus knows!

Which brings us to Politics and that has been said makes for strange bedfellows.  That statement could not be any less true.  The history of pols and their sexual pecadillos or dildos are ripe for picking.  I am exhausted over the current one and at this point I cannot wait for Roy Moore to join an already fucked up Senate, he will fit right in! 

Speaking of the Senate.  Do I believe Senator Franken is a problem? No, a stupid childish action done several years ago when he was a private citizen  is not a matter for public debate.  Why this woman felt compelled to do this shows a fear of actually dealing with people at the time and/or with reason that is under scrutiny.  That may be the real problem as she is now being attacked on social media with pictures of her groping men, slapping butts and saying sexually provocative things.  Bring it on sister.  Trigger warning alert!   Victim shaming, blaming or again a woman who is of the media and seemingly has no problem being direct so why this was not resolved between parties years ago does bring the questions in mind. And that affects those with no less legitimate but way more troubling claims.

So it makes one wonder what is the point.  I have a horrid fear of this current red scare that it will literally end with us women wearing the infamous red gowns of The Handmaid's Tale down to the vision impairing bonnet.  If this is not justification to the Muslim world why they surpress and opress women's rights nothing does.   I heard this past week one of the Olympic gymnasts say that if you were not dressed sexually and provocatively you would not have been victimized by the former predator Physician who assaulted many of the young women in his care. Donna Karan said the same thing when asked about Weinstein.    Both have since recinded there comments but they are out there and only validates that women are our own best frenemy.

Watch a Real Housewife show and see the mixed messages and the constant confusion that centers around their relationships with their peers and their significant others.  It veers on disturbing to down right bizarre and all brought to you by a Gay man who hates women. See it is not all about the sisterhood.  

The below article brings up serious issues on how we see the same crime and see it differently.  I have written extensively about eyewitness testimony when it comes to criminal activity and in turn that applies to social mores as well.  As I have said I live in Nashville, home to Jesus and with that the lack of humor and the lack of sophisticated cultures and differences outside of being Heterosexual and Christian is  tolerated.  Just tolerated, understood not so much.  There are so many sexual scandals here it is like a Shondra Rhimes show only white and less interesting.  Boundaries are clearly only applicable to walls to keep Mexicans out.  I fear the men here.  I fear for myself here in ways that even in Seattle where I had been a victim I lived in the home where I was a victim, I  was that afraid to move.  So when people ask me why I came here I really don't think that they want to hear the answer.  It's complicated and way over the only two things they do care about - Jesus and being straight.  They are stupid here and I am no longer couching that as it explains the immense violence among other problems here.

So I think it is clear we have a problem and we have no solutions. I know try talking directly to each other. Oh I can't do that.  I see then carry on.


The sexual-harassment epidemic has been diagnosed. What’s the cure?
By Monica Hesse
The Washington Post
 November 19 2017

A man walks into a conference room, where two women are planning the company’s booth at an upcoming trade show. (Sit tight, this is eventually going to turn into a story about gender, despair and whether our society is completely busted.) “Hey girls, we need to prep for this show,” the man says. “So unless the plan is to stop traffic with thigh-high boots and halter tops, we’re going to need strong messaging and branding.”

The above scene is from one of those workplace sexual harassment training videos you have probably seen if you’ve had a job. Specifically, it’s from a California-based firm called Emtrain, which specializes in such trainings and which, to facilitate open discussion, encourages clients to code inappropriate behaviors as yellow (problematic), orange (moderate), or red (toxic). The thinking being, it’s easier to say, “Oof, Jerry, that joke was a little orange,” than it is to say, “Jerry, that’s harassment.”

Anyway. The video above is coded by Emtrain as orange. But in recent weeks, Emtrain’s founder, Janine Yancey, has noticed something. When viewers watch the video — which goes on to show the male boss ranking the hotness of female workers — they can submit questions and comments. “Women are writing in saying, that’s red, that’s red!” Yancey says. “And men are saying, is that really orange? It looks yellow to me.”

Yancey once practiced employment law; she thinks in terms of legalities. She knows juries in the past wouldn’t have thought of that incident, in singularity, as toxic. “But we don’t really have a mechanism to figure out how the current news cycle might impact juries,” she says. In other words, we can’t figure out how behaviors that once were considered yellow — or even green, a healthy work environment — can transition to red.

So that’s the legal conundrum. The sharper point in this thigh-high anecdote is that men and women do not even appear to be watching the same video.

Which means we are in trouble. We have been for a while; some of us just didn’t realize it. The news cycle Yancey speaks of is, of course, the era of #MeToo, five weeks old and instead of losing steam, gaining momentum.

As we type this, a photo surfaced of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) making like he’s grabbing radio anchor Leeann Tweeden’s chest, while she slept in a flak jacket on a USO tour (Franken apologized and said he was “ashamed”). Two more women just accused Senate candidate Roy Moore of coming on to them when they were teens and he was in his 30s (he denies it). These anecdotes will feel stale soon because there will be new ones and new men.

It would be easy, as a woman, to look around at this point and worry that every male was a hyena.

What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Three centuries ago would be nice, but we’ll take it now, thanks. And: What’s next?

In this image provided by the U.S. Army, then-comedian Al Franken and sports commentator Leeann Tweeden perform a comic skit for service members during the USO Sergeant Major of the Army’s 2006 Hope and Freedom Tour in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. (Staff Sgt. Patrick N. Moes/AP)

“In a strange way, figuring that out is exhilarating,” says Kristi Coulter, a writer who lives in Seattle. “It’s also exhausting. And then I’m bracing for a backlash, though I don’t know yet what that would look like. Or I’m wondering, will things quiet down and everything will be back to the way it was? So I feel a mix of excitement and wariness. And weariness. Both wariness and weariness.”

She’s been asking herself the question that women have spent the past month asking. Who is the powerful man who, if accused, would be a crippling blow? What theoretical harasser would break her? Tom Hanks? Dick Van Dyke? “Thank God Mr. Rogers is dead,” she found herself thinking at one point.

Finally it came: “Bob Newhart,” Coulter says. “For some reason I’ve settled on Bob Newhart as the one that would push me over the edge.”

***

It isn’t about Bob Newhart. It isn’t even about Harvey Weinstein; it never was. It’s about the rot that we didn’t want to see, that we shoveled into the garbage disposal of America for years. Some of the rot might have once been a carrot and some of it might have once been a moldy piece of rape-steak, but it’s all fetid and horrific and now, and it’s all coming up at once.

How do we deal with it? Prison for everyone? Firing for some?

As Rebecca Traister pointed out in a recent New York Magazine essay, there has been some lamenting over the fact that some accused men might lose their careers. But what about the women, she writes, who never got careers to begin with because they chose personal safety over their own dreams?

Should we create a transgression hierarchy — an acknowledgment that shoving a hand up a woman’s skirt is worse than leering, once, at her butt? If so, who gets to decide the order of operations?

A few weeks ago, following allegations about Kevin Spacey, we spent days contacting crew members from “House of Cards” (Spacey has since checked himself into a clinic for sex addiction). Some people said the actor’s on-set habit of hitting on extras was disturbing. Some said it was merely eyeroll-worthy. Sometimes these two camps were describing the exact same behaviors.

Do we question whether both men and women have been infiltrated by such a systemically misogynist culture that, conceivably, some men didn’t realize how wrong they were? Could we divide those men into categories?

What’s the category for a 76-year-old ad man who spent the 1960s pinching secretaries’ bottoms at the office Christmas party because the women always seemed to laugh, and he somehow didn’t realize it was terrible? Can we say, “It was terrible. Old men, raise your hand if you ever did this. Don’t do it again. Now go away; we have bigger fish to fry.”

“I really don’t think so,” says Aminatou Sow, a host of the podcast “Call Your Girlfriend,” when I raise the possibility. She recognizes that there are gradients, “But, those ‘small’ things add up to a lot.”

Meg Bond, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell who served on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s task force on sexual harassment, confirms that psychologically speaking, small things do add up — to a hostile work environment. “I worry that the attention to really egregious cases is going to make us think the other types of harassment aren’t such a big deal.”

What’s happening now, she says, “is this posturing around zero tolerance, which has a positive side and a potential negative underbelly.”

It sounds wonderful to be able to tell bad men to just stop what they’re doing. But important transformations don’t happen by handing out detailed lists of 54 no-no actions. There’s always going to be the dude who skirts the rules by coming up with action 55. (“I didn’t offer her a shoulder rub, I offered a deltoid adjustment.”) There’s also going to be the one who says, “If I were 30 years younger!” Women might not want him fired, they just want him to stop.

Bond thinks that a large portion of the answer lies in the workplace; it’s where most adults spend their days. But, “the real work is hard, and it has to deeply permeate organizations,” says Bond. “Interventions, if you really want to get into it, have to be across life spans. The entire educational system. How we pass on values to everyone from childhood on up.”

We’re only asking for the entire universe to change. That’s all.

***

But first: Is it yellow, orange or red?

It seems like that should be baseline for all discussions. An easy judgment to make. It’s alarming that it’s not.

You need only to hop on Twitter to find an army of guys arguing that this wave of awareness means they’re “not even allowed to flirt anymore.”

“Are they serious?” asks Sow, the podcast host. “Everyone knows the difference between flirting, and assaulting women. The stories that people are getting upset about — they are not about flirting. The stories we’re hearing are about people who have ejaculated in flower pots.” (Harvey Weinstein, allegedly, after forcing a woman to watch him masturbate.)

Regarding Louis C.K.’s confessed masturbating in front of female comedians, columnist and former George W. Bush speechwriter John Podhoretz queried his followers: “What did he do either as a criminal or actionable matter that merits this exposé, aside from being unspeakably disgusting?”

He later deleted the tweet, saying he hadn’t been trying to defend C.K., merely to ask about the legality of the situation.

Which might get to the core of the problem. Women are not talking about what is “criminal or actionable.” The criminal justice system is slow, unwieldy and designed to protect the rights of the accused. This cultural moment is designed to talk about what is wrong, and what we can’t stand, and how it needs to be fixed right now.

The notion that harassment could be confused with flirting is as baffling to many women as the notion that football could be confused with ping-pong. Yes, there’s a ball in both games. It’s a very different ball. If you cannot tell it is a different ball, one must conclude that you are either willfully obtuse, or you cannot be trusted around balls of any kind, because you might actually be conking women in the head with a large piece of pigskin.

“I’ve been really struck by how many men have been defending Louis C.K. because ‘he asked,’ ” before masturbating, says Coulter, the Seattle writer. “Like, this wasn’t an agreement. He didn’t make an appointment.”

We’d just as soon hang out with people who don’t throw footballs at our heads, thanks. We’d just as soon not have to explain why.

“It’s our role to be accountable,” says Neil Irvin, the executive director of Men Can Stop Rape, a nonprofit dedicated to educating men around issues of violence against women. “It’s our role to be accountable so that women and girls are not again held as the gatekeepers for this information.”

Irvin thinks of harassment as a public health issue. Like seat belts. Or smoking. “We have to be talking about the things that are going to sustain activities around these issues, so that we change societal norms,” he says.

This is the business that Irvin’s organization has been in for the better part of 20 years, he says. He’s still plugging away, seminar after seminar. As far as the level of discussion happening now, “I’ve certainly never seen it in my lifetime.”

But as for what happens next, and how this all gets fixed?

It’s hard, because we can’t repair the garbage disposal while it’s still spewing. We won’t sweep up the china, while — oh, another new headline: “The TED talks empire has been grappling with sexual harassment.”

We can’t fix this while women still want to grab men by the collars and say, “That. Offense. Was. Red.”










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