Rob Filner. John Edwards. Bill Clinton. Eliot Spitzer. Mark Sanford. David Vitter. Larry Craig. Anthony Weiner.
What do these names have in common? They are all white men, first of all. They have law or business degrees, except for the fine Mayor of San Diego who has a Ph.D. in the History of Science and was a History Professor at San Diego State before running for office. They are all philanderers, sexual harassers, or Johns. Oh! And, they are politicians.
With Anthony “Carlos Danger” so present in this month’s media and Filner taking his two week intensive “re-hab” for assaulting his female colleagues, I spent some time researching the men who came before them in the long tradition of philandering politicians.
Filner’s two week hiatus from his job as Mayor is “to address his ‘intimidating conduct’ and failure to respect women” (http://www.10news.com/news/mayor-bob-filner-begins-behavioral-therapy-at-undisclosed-location-080513). Let’s deconstruct his so-called “intimidating conduct.”
Of the ten women who have come forward, their allegations involved him asking them to work without panties, grabbing their asses, kissing them, touching their faces and asking if they will sleep with him. See the detailed disgusting list at this link, but be sure to have an empty stomach: Accusations.
What he has done is not simply “intimidating conduct” but sexual harassment and in some cases, sexual assault. Whoever his Olivia Pope is who decided that to come out and say he was going to get two weeks of intensive therapy for decades of “cringe-worthy” behavior is brilliant. He should not only step down from his job, but he should be sued for his behavior and possibly charged with assault.
In my humble radical feminist opinion, women should be screaming for him to step down. The fact that these men –and yes, these politicians with issues are men– (we don’t hear about female politicians behaving this way) continue to “serve” as public servants makes me sick.
Out of the list at the top, many of these men, after their falls from grace, continue to pursue public service jobs. Eliot Spitzer is running for Comptroller of New York, which seems like a big step down from Governor. Mark Sanford just became a U.S. Representative of South Carolina in a special election, after serving as Governor of that state. David Vitter is a U.S. Senator from Louisiana. His involvement with the DC Madam scandal merely affected his run for Governor of Louisiana. Larry Craig no longer serves in office but opened a consulting firm that deals with energy issues, a.k.a., he’s a lobbyist. Bill Clinton has become a major philanthropist and supporter of his wife, Hilary Rodham Clinton. And it appears that John Edwards is gearing up to get back in the so-called political saddle.
None of these men have had their lives ruined by their so-called inappropriate behavior nor their, in some cases, illegal behavior. I’d like to be Superman, turn back time and put women in their places and see what kind of after effect shows up with women harassing, cheating and buying prostitutes. I would bet their lives would be touched forever by those indiscretions. The double standard starts in high school and continues long into our lives.
But how do we as a culture accept this behavior? I’m shocked that these ten women are just NOW coming forward to call out the lewd and illegal behavior of Filner. I can’t even look at his picture without gagging and seeing the spittle on the cheeks of women who are Deans, College Administrators, Rear Admirals, and businesswomen. We need to speak up when we see, hear or experience this type of behavior and call it unacceptable and illegal.
But I know how institutions work. And often, when someone cries out, the institution does everything in its power to cover, hide or sweep the truth under the rug. When I was 21, I worked at the Norfolk Yacht and Country Club as a waitress. The Assistant Manager sexually harassed me one night as I was walking through the closed dining room. He motioned to his leg and pointed out how long his penis was. I complained to the Manager, a woman. She said he was “just kidding.” I was too young and naïve to know I should have gone over her head. Plus this was two years before Anita Hill spoke her truth. We live in a culture where sometimes it’s not worth the headache and the struggle to speak the truth, particularly if you won’t be believed nor get any redemption for the crimes against you.