Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Strange Belief Of Male Mind-Reading

Apparently it's too much to expect women to actually ask their partners for help.
This aversion to communicating basic needs is really astonishing, yet I keep seeing it. A few years ago, I encountered an essay about harassment in the context of a daughter's programming class, the gist of which comes down to this graf:
I consulted with friends — female developers — and talked to my daughter about how to handle the situation in class. I suggested that she talk to you. I offered to talk to you [the instructor]. I offered to come talk to the class. I offered to send one of my male friends, perhaps a well-known local programmer, to go talk to the class. Finally, my daughter decided to plow through, finish the class, and avoid all her classmates. I hate to think what less-confident girls would have done in the same situation.
Yet of course, the one thing that arguably needs to be done is to bring it to the attention of the teacher.  In the original essay, that, apparently, had no place in the discussion; he was supposed to just figure it out on his own somehow, even if the abuse had happened outside of his knowledge. This is crazy*.

*It wasn't clear that this already happened when I first read the piece, before the second update appeared. In fact the daughter went to the teacher, who in turn went to the principal, who ... called the girl to his office and told her he wasn't going to do anything. Now, you can argue that's the wrong thing to do, that the teacher should have intervened — but it also points out a flaw in her response as well, to the extent that you won't always have someone around to stick up for you.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Harvey Weinstein's Colonoscopy, Or, The Hannah Arendt Award Goes To...

Bar none, you will not read a more compelling, honest, or damning story about what it was like inside the beast than Scott Rosenberg's Facebook essay, reposted at Deadline: Hollywood:
Simply put: OG Miramax was a blast.
So, yeah, I was there.
And let me tell you one thing.
Let’s be perfectly clear about one thing:


Not that he was raping.
No, that we never heard.
But we were aware of a certain pattern of overly-aggressive behavior that was rather dreadful.
We knew about the man’s hunger; his fervor; his appetite.
There was nothing secret about this voracious rapacity; like a gluttonous ogre out of the Brothers Grimm.
All couched in vague promises of potential movie roles.
(and, it should be noted: there were many who actually succumbed to his bulky charms. Willingly. Which surely must have only impelled him to cast his fetid net even wider).
He does not excuse himself:
So, yeah, I am sorry.
Sorry and ashamed.
Because, in the end, I was complicit.
Which is much less than Dan Rather's accusation that Rosenberg somehow snuck away from acknowledging his role in this.

Other linkies on this subject:
  • The original New York Times story, and the New Yorker followup. 
  • Cathy Young is rightly concerned about lynch mobs going after all men as a consequence of this imbroglio:
    Ironically, as one Twitter user pointed out, actress Rose McGowan, who says she was raped by Weinstein and has denounced his enablers, spoke warmly a few years ago of film director Victor Salva, a child molester convicted of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy actor in 1988. When asked if working with Salva was awkward given his record, McGowan shrugged it off as “not really my business.”Read more:
    The Weinstein story is a depressing reminder of how difficult it can be for victims, female or male — especially victims of high-status predators — to seek recourse. But the post-Weinstein backlash has revived the demand to “believe the women” and take virtually any accusation of sexual assault as fact, at least against a man; and there are risks in that, too, particularly in the digital age, when an accusation can cost nothing more than a few keystrokes.

    Weinstein’s infuriating impunity will now be used to deride or dismiss concerns that men who don’t have his wealth, power or privilege — unless one regards all men as “privileged” — can get a raw deal when accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault. But the simple truth is that impunity for some can easily coexist with zealous, or overzealous, enforcement for others. In recent years, a number of men have suffered devastating consequences for conduct, proven or alleged, that doesn’t even come close to Weinstein’s reported offenses.

  • Update 2017-10-19: Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic opines that the populist right is tearing down an institutional left press that has no analog elsewhere. Excerpt:
    If Matthew Boyle had gotten his way last year, Harvey Weinstein would still be a powerful Hollywood producer able to summon aspiring teen actresses to his hotel suites.

    If he ever gets his way, the beneficiaries will be corrupt, powerful actors in Hollywood, Washington, D.C., Silicon Valley, and elsewhere—corrupt actors on the left and on the right—because like a petulant child throwing a tantrum with lit matches in a dry forrest, Boyle and his ilk will have destroyed that which they lack the talent to recreate.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Bullets