More misogyny from the Disco. ‘tute

i-f1ed343cbe0d7fe21e80b35943436236-BurnsChapman.jpgDisco. ‘tute president Bruce Chapman is upset. There are ladies with their bloomers in a twist over something or other that they claim Herman Cain said. Let’s read Chapman and see if we can guess what Cain is supposed to have done:

A number of significant insights are emerging from the charges of sex harassment lodged against Herman Cain. It may be wise to withhold judgement [sic] about the particulars so far. There are a number of groups operating behind the scenes to drive the story one way or another.

Aha! Charges of sexual harassment were filed, but we should be dubious because shadowy groups are trying to destroy this innocent man.

However, it’s not too soon to note the way job problems in our times are converted into legal problems. I have commented on the tendency of lawyers for businesses and even governments to discount charges of sex discrimination and sexual harassment by settling out of court–the supposedly “cheaper” outcome for otherwise costly lawsuits. Obviously, if there really has been an illegal action or pattern of behavior the business or agency should settle, and effectively admit wrongdoing. If not, the “cheaper” outcome may become an expensive one–at least in terms of publicity.

Oh, it’s a job problem. Like when Stephen Meyer doesn’t make a new pot of coffee after he finish the old one, or when David Klinghoffer writes another essay blaming Charles Darwin for his hangnail. Sure, someone can sue over it, but it’s not a real issue, so businesses might decide, foolishly, to settle this frivolous claim. Fortunately, while Cain has had charged lodged against him, it isn’t like his former company already settled these charges over a decade ago, “effectively admitting wrongdoing.”

In The American Spectator, Lisa Fabrisio [sic] makes another relevant arguement [sic]: that the Cain issue reeks of hypocrisy. Here is a modern media/entertainment culture steeped in soft porn, where new breakthroughs in lowered standards are accomplished [sic] constantly. And yet it is this same debased culture that acts offended by some official’s conversational gaffe or unintended double entendre!

The problem isn’t what Cain did (or if Chapman’s to be believed, didn’t do). The problem is that there’s cleavage on display at supermarket checkout lines. Hypocrisy! Women are allowed to wear revealing outfits, but an employer can’t grope an employee? (Allegedly!) Besides, I bet this “sexual harassment” is just a slip of the tongue, or a joke that was taken the wrong way. You know how women are.

Of course, those of us who’ve read the newspapers in the last week (without being distracted by the bra ads), know a few things that Chapman doesn’t.

First, we know that Cain isn’t just charged with sexual harassment, he and his company settled those charges over a decade ago. And his company added a gag rule to the settlement, so that he and his former company can talk about the charges, but the women he assaulted cannot speak publicly. Politico explains what we know about those cases:

The sources — including the recollections of close associates and other documentation — describe episodes that left the women upset and offended. These incidents include conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned restaurant association events and at the association’s offices. There were also descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship.

In addition to the three women (we know of) whose suits were settled, a fourth woman came forward and discussed a similar incident she experienced. She had been fired by Cain’s National Restaurant Association, and asked to meet Mr. Cain to get help finding a new job:

After taking her out for a night on the town in Washington, she said, he suggested she engage with him sexually in return for his assistance — seizing her inappropriately when they were alone in a car and running his hand up her skirt.…

As she described it, Mr. Cain ran his hand up her skirt, “reached for my genitals” and pulled her head toward his crotch. “I said, ‘What are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend; this isn’t what I came here for,’ ” Ms. Bialek said, her voice cracking. “Mr. Cain said, ‘You want a job, right?’”

Importantly:

Joel P. Bennett, a lawyer for another of Mr. Cain’s accusers, called Ms. Bialek’s description of the encounter “very similar” to Mr. Cain’s interaction with his client, who he has said received several inappropriate advances from him. Without going in details [as forbidden by their settlement], Mr. Bennett said, “It corroborates the claim.”

To dismiss crotch-grabbing, threats of forced oral sex, and offer to exchange sexual favors for employment as a “job problem,” “a conversational gaffe,” or “unintentional double entendre” stretches the legitimate meanings of any of those terms. Chapman is either clueless about the actual circumstances at hand, or doesn’t understand sexual power dynamics and sexual harassment.

Mr. Chapman runs a multi-million dollar organization, handling administrative matters and a large staff. He seems to genuinely not know what sexual harassment is and why it matters. Clearly, sexism infects the Discovery Institute from the top down. Not many women work at the ‘tute, so maybe the issue hasn’t come up, or maybe this misogynist attitude has simply created an environment where few women are comfortable working.

Comments

  1. #1 robertm
    November 11, 2011

    I’m surprised they didn’t blame it on evolution, they blame just about every other social problem on it. It’s a standard conservative tactic to blame the victims of conservative wrong doing and downplay the event in just about every matter not just sexual harassment. If their so insistent on seeing no evil and hearing no evil the least they could do is speak no evil.

  2. #2 Mike Egnor
    November 12, 2011

    Josh,

    You’ve gone off the deep end.

    Chapman makes the entirely reasonable point that you have to see more of the evidence and understand more of the dynamics before you rush to judgment.

    And on what possible basis do you assert that the DI is sexist? Heck, even the “victim” of the spanking post said you were nuts.

    And could you point me to your posts condemning Bill Clinton for his serial sexual assaults?

  3. #3 Mike Egnor
    November 12, 2011

    Josh,

    You’ve gone off the deep end.

    Chapman makes the entirely reasonable point that you have to see more of the evidence and understand more of the dynamics before you rush to judgment.

    And on what possible basis do you assert that the DI is sexist? Heck, even the “victim” of the spanking post said you were nuts.

    And could you point me to your posts condemning Bill Clinton for his serial sexual assaults?

  4. #4 robertm
    November 12, 2011

    A double dose of egnorance!

  5. #5 dean
    November 22, 2011

    If egnorant could point to assaults by the former president rather than consensual (and incredibly stupid) trysts, he might have a point.

  6. #6 Mike Egnor
    November 23, 2011

    @dean:

    Clinton was accused of sexual assault by Kathleen Willey (in the Oval Office) and he was credibly accused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick.

    And even a “consensual” sexual relationship (Lewinsky) between a 21 year old intern and the most powerful man in the world is tantamount to sexual harassment.

  7. #7 Wow
    November 23, 2011

    Re your last sentence, Mike.

    Please explain.

    If it were consentual, then isn’t it as liable to be Lewinsky sexually harassing Clinton?

  8. #8 Patrick Wm. Connally
    December 1, 2011

    The issue is the man wants to be President, but that aside, Republicans have the best sex scandals, from Foley and the senate pages, Catholic Bishops hiding molesters, Thurmonds mixed race children with the family maids and after there were too many, abortions in France, The wide stance guy or lousy pick up guy. Arnie Swatzeneggars for a few months having a harem with most of his children, damn, Cain looks as vannilla as Clinton.

  9. #9 dean
    December 16, 2011

    Clinton was accused of sexual assault by Kathleen Willey (in the Oval Office) and he was credibly accused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick.

    Neither of these was substantiated, and you know (or should) know that.

    And even a “consensual” sexual relationship (Lewinsky) between a 21 year old intern and the most powerful man in the world is tantamount to sexual harassment.

    It is incredibly stupid – mind-numbingly stupid – but not even Lewinsky stated it was forced upon her. You really stretched for these. Not surprising.