Comedian Tig Notaro, interviewed in the NYTimes, had this to say about the possiblity of disgraced men of influence returning to their various jobs: “If a janitor was so great at cleaning the building but also tended to masturbate in front of people, would the people at that building be like, “yes, he masturbated, but I’ve never seen anyone clean so thoroughly, and I was just wondering when he’s going to get his job back, he so good at it.” No it would be “that’s not acceptable.” It’s fame and power that people are blinded by.” (NYT 5/19)
Exactly so Tig, but you have it backwards. In fact, there were no janitors who were outed by the women of MeToo or TimesUp and there’s a simple reason for that. Women were looking for the men who had the fame , power or money - the important thing Tig omitted from her list. In fact, women who hung around these men, sometimes for years, were not blinded by their desire for a piece of one or all of these commodities - they were willfully motivated to preserve their proximity no matter what . We are talking mostly about professional women in publishing, movies, t.v. entertainment - not battered wives with a handful of kids and no marketable skills. The two women who claimed that Eric Schneiderman beat them, choked them, degraded them and made perverse sexual demands, voluntarily kept coming back to the Attorney-General, unwilling to let go of whatever gratification they derived from being in his aura. The women who sat and watched Louis C.K masturbate were voluntarily in his apartment, not out on the sidewalk as passers-by. The young men who purportedly succumbed to James Levine were in his orbit hoping to further their careers as were most of the accusers of Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Bill O’Reilly, James Levine etc.
This doesn’t excuse bad behavior on the part of molesters but it levels the reality that people are often willing to trade their dignity for the expectation of a larger gain. In the world of art and entertainment where some people are vastly overpaid the rewards can be enormous and many people have been willing to make that trade. The complaints come years after the alleged incidents when it becomes clear that the bargain hasn’t paid off Sometimes it comes despite a payoff - think of Andrea Constand who had already collected more than 3 million dollars in a civil suit against Bill Cosby and was motivated to try again. Or Stormy Daniels who presumably earned a sizable fee for a one night stand and realized that she had made a bad deal, giving up a cash cow that the media was more than willing to keep paying for
Let’s not be confused by who is being blinded. It isn’t the people who choose to go after powerful men - it’s the public which is being fed a steady stream of media-induced portrayals of women or gay men as helpless, unwitting victims. The majority of these stories did not involve forcible restraint. Even in the Cosby trial, many women who swallowed the little blue pill came back as did Paz de la Huerta who claimed to have been raped on several occasions by Harvey Weinstein, though she never reported this to the police until it became recently fashionable. Is it society’s job to clean up the messes that people bring on themselves?
So Tig, since you are a woman who has bared your chest after mastectomies, let’s get real. People who allow themselves to be treated badly while expecting that something profitable might come out of that don’t deserve communal defense. Let’s admit that if Eric Schneiderman had been the local janitor instead of the Attorney General, the two women who confessed to Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker interview would have been out the door after the first slap. And take a look at Paz de la Huerta - if her janitor had raped her, she seems the type of woman who might have bashed his head with a cast-iron frying pan before scalding his private parts with a kettle of boiling water. And no one would have heard a word about it. Ever.
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