Friday, November 4, 2011

Why the Herman Cain Sexual Harassment Scandal Isn’t Doing Women Any Favors

As a woman, I’m beginning to get really annoyed with the media’s handling of the sexual harassment charges against Herman Cain. This prolonged lip service to the individual women involved and their so-far sketchy accusations aren’t doing womankind any favors.

Quite the opposite in fact. This whole media circus – regardless of whether the accusations are true or not – is making a joke of sexual harassment and what it is to be a woman in general.

Being a woman means struggling for respect in the workplace a little bit more than men do, since we not only have to think about our performance but also the way we dress, and the way we approach our male colleagues and bosses concerning ideas or issues (since, let’s face it, an opinionated man is much more likely to be considered a leader than an opinionated woman, who more often than not gets the you-know-what label). We even have to worry about the way we walk, since some men think that if our hips naturally sway when we’re moving, we’re intentionally giving them excuses to behave like pigs.

That’s why being a woman means taking especially careful notice when we’re walking by alleys or leaving work for the parking lot or stranded on the side of the road. It means calling friends to come drive us less than a mile down the road – an easy walk – to go get our cars from the mechanic in broad daylight because the area is just slightly sketchy.

And it means shutting up and taking crude comments, crude looks and even a few crude touches now and again from the men around us, whether it’s the cocky thug in the mall or the suited coworker down the hall. Because the alternative mess for dealing with such small violations just isn’t worth it.

That’s what it means.

Now don’t get me wrong, because it also means a lot of great stuff, and I wouldn’t trade being female for anything. (Well, maybe just for a day to see what really goes on in men’s brains.) I also fully acknowledge that men face pressures and conflicts that most women don’t, and I seriously respect the ones who take each of those challenges head on and still come out as, well, men.

… In other words, not the kind of people who capitalize on the usual imbalances in life for political purposes, which is exactly what is happening with Herman Cain right now. The total lack of clarity in the accusations against him from the women and the lawyers and the media is just making things even harder for women everywhere.

If the charges are true, then the women should make up their minds to either step forward with the full details or shut up entirely. This wishy-washy back and forth and in-between isn’t progressing women’s rights at all; it’s just throwing their stories into a very bad light and portraying women everywhere as gold-digging little hussies who are asking for it.

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