Ha­rass­ment is rooted in abuse of wealth and power

The Hamburg Area Item - - opinion - Ralph R. Rei­land is As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Eco­nom­ics Emer­i­tus at Robert Mor­ris Univer­sity.

With the flood­gates open on ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment ( and worse) fol­low­ing the bomb­shell re­port that sur­faced in Oc­to­ber about Har­vey We­in­stein and the sub­se­quent tidal wave of cases that have spot­lighted pur­ported male lech­ery and il­le­git­i­mate and il­le­gal work­place con­duct, it ap­pears that the lead­ing com­men­ta­tors in academia, law, en­ter­tain­ment, gov­ern­ment, pub­lish­ing and broad­cast­ing have reached a con­sen­sus about the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor among the ever- grow­ing list of sus­pects and de­fen­dants.

The ap­par­ent agree­ment re­gard­ing the com­mon fac­tor among those ac­cused of ha­rass­ment is that the prob­lem is gen­er­ally caused by men with dis­pro­por­tion­ate power, wealth and in­flu­ence, by the top dogs op­er­at­ing and dom­i­nat­ing in or­ga­ni­za­tions that have large im­bal­ances of power and in­come and where bul­ly­ing, pur­su­ing, in­jur­ing and ha­rass­ing feed on the in­equal­ity.

As de­fined by the Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sion, the mis­treat­ment, in­tim­i­da­tion and ha­rass­ment of women ( and some­times men) gen­er­ally con­sists of “un­wel­come sex­ual ad­vances, ver­bal or phys­i­cal ha­rass­ment of a sex­ual na­ture, or re­quests for sex­ual fa­vors,” the lat­ter of­ten sought in ex­change for fa­voritism in the work­place or quid pro quo boosts up the so­cioe­co­nomic lad­der to higher lev­els of in­come, wealth, au­ton­omy and fame.

Writ­ing re­cently in the Guardian, Alissa Quart, ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of the Eco­nomic Hard­ship Re­port­ing Pro­ject in Wash­ing­ton, D. C., re­ported on the sim­i­lar­i­ties in sev­eral high pro­file ha­rass­ment cases where all the ac­cused were charged with in­tense sex­ual ha­rass­ment, and in some cases vi­o­lent as­sault. “All also had in­or­di­nate eco­nomic ad­van­tage over their fe­male em­ploy­ees and col­leagues,” ex­plained Quart. “Their quarry ranged from ac­tresses to jour­nal­ists to fe­male en­trepreneurs. And what their prey all had in com­mon was a fear of fi­nan­cial or pro­fes­sional ret­ri­bu­tion that could desta­bi­lize al­ready pre­car­i­ous ca­reers.”

The cor­re­la­tion be­tween dis­sim­i­lar lev­els of clout and wealth, gen­der in­equal­i­ties in terms of in­come and power, and sex­ual ha­rass­ment is clear in a list­ing of the most re­cent sex­ual ha­rass­ment ac­cu­sa­tions, law­suits, pay­offs, res­ig­na­tions or fir­ings: pro­duc­ers Bob and Har­vey We­in­stein, co- cre­ator, CEO and Chair­man of Fox News Roger Ailes, Fox News host and rat­ings leader Bill O’Reilly, ac­tors Casey Af­fleck, Dustin Hoffman, Danny Master­son, Ed West­wick, Ge­orge Takei, Jef­frey Tam­bor, Jeremy Piven and Kevin Spacey, Warner Bros. di­rec­tor and pro­ducer, re­spec­tively, Brett Rat­ner and An­drew Kreis­berg, co­me­di­ans Louis C. K. and Andy Dick, Bloomberg re­porter and MSNBC pun­dit Mark Halperin, long- run­ning lit­er­ary ed­i­tor of The New Repub­lic Leon Wieseltier, pub­lisher and pres­i­dent of The New Repub­lic Hamil­ton Fish, Mother Jones magazine ed­i­tor and chief ex­ec­u­tive David Corn, Rolling Stone magazine founder and pub­lisher Jann Wen­ner, NPR’s chief news ed­i­tor and se­nior vice pres­i­dent of news, re­spec­tively, David Sweeny and Michael Oreskes, long­time tele­vi­sion host Char­lie Rose, co- founder of Pixar An­i­ma­tion Stu­dios and Walt Dis­ney An­i­ma­tion CEO John Las­seter, co­host of NBC’s “To­day” show Matt Lauer, and an ex­pand­ing lineup of politi­cians, most re­cently U. S. Sen. Al Franken ( D- Min­nesota), for­mer pres­i­dent Ge­orge H. W. Bush, for­mer Con­gress­man ( DTen­nessee) and MSNBC pun­dit Harold Ford Jr., U. S. Se­nate can­di­date Roy Moore ( R- Alabama) , Con­gress­man Trent Franks ( RAri­zona), Con­gress­man Ruben Ki­huen ( D- Ne­vada), and Con­gress­man John Cony­ers Jr. ( DMichi­gan), co- founder of the Con­gres­sional Black Cau­cus, rank­ing mem­ber of the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, and the long­est- serv­ing ac­tive mem­ber of Congress un­til his re­tire­ment an­nounce­ment on De­cem­ber 5th.

“Nearly all men can stand ad­ver­sity,” stated Abra­ham Lin­coln, “but if you want to test a man’s char­ac­ter, give him power.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.