The Sunday Times offered a full page editorial on the subject of sexual harassment in America (Post-Weinstein, What’s Different 10/29/17) One of its paragraphs deals with How to Change the Culture and what various mega-chains like Walmart and McDonald have done to require their tomato growers to prevent harassment and assault of farmworkers. This seems a particularly odd concern considering the tenor of our mass culture that couldn’t be better illustrated than the Sunday Styles section of the Times itself.
The front page has two lead articles with accompanying photographs: “On the Street Where She Still Works” - a look at how hookers influence fashion and the arts, and “Future Sex is Here” - a look a virtual pornography. The photo accompanying the first piece is that of Maggie Gyllenhaal, star of the series “The Deuce”, wearing a ratty fur jacket over a skimpy slip. I watched five minutes of The Deuce during which Maggie was nude with flashes of her breasts and pubic hair visible to the prime time audience - undoubtedly an essential artistic element in the plot. The article about pornography printed in large font type, details the solo masturbation scene of the young actress who has been in the porn industry since her college days and takes it almost as seriously as the newspaper does, sparing us nothing including mention of her erotic electrostimulation (electrosex) I wonder whether the women in the Times workplace while the paper was being readied for printing were disturbed by this content and might be justified in considering this a form of harassment. What about the women reading it - does mainstreaming pornography not play a big part in the rapid rise of sexual assaults on young women on campus? Does the fact that the blonde porn queen started her profession from her dorm room further normalize and sanction an unsavory industry? Does its mass distribution not affect what men have come to expect from women? How many articles has the Times itself published concerning the changing mores of sexual intimacy between couples as increasing numbers of men prefer the gymnastic deviancy on their computer screens to the more humdrum activity in their beds.
One of the other paragraphs in the self-righteous editorial concerns power and money and how these combine to allow predatory men to silence women who fear for their jobs. What about publishers of a newspaper rapidly losing its subscription base, turning to the good old-fashioned lure of sensational sex to attract those readers who like to look at pictures and respond to words like “coy, flirty and dirty, sexy as hell, bondage fetishes, live X-rated performances.” Is this sort of titillation what we expect in the newspaper that pretends to object to the misdeeds of Harvey Weinstein?
The Times editorial closes with this caveat: “In the end, though, the most lasting change will have to come from men, who are doing virtually all the sexual harassing. Boys must be raised to understand why that behavior is wrong, teenagers need to be reminded of it and grown men need to pay for it until they get the message.” Will the feminists don their pussy hats and protest the elevation of prostitution and pornography to fashionable subjects of STYLE? Will women boycott a newspaper whose male management opts for these editorial decisions? Anita Hill was offended by a tasteless joke about a pubic hair on a coke bottle; what might she have said if, like the female reporter in the Times, her assignment was to write an upbeat piece headlining a woman who went into pornography, not our of financial desperation, but as her profession of choice? In all probability, Mr. Sulzberger would not have been confirmed.
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