Republicans: Sexual Harassment Does Not Exist

HermanCainSmilesSlate's Dahlia Lithwick has a hilarious article up on the new nature of sexual harrassment denialism, which depends less on defending the accused ("So-and-so didn't sexually harass anybody because So-and-so is a good and honorable person!") than on imagining the offense out of existence ("So-and-so couldn't have sexually harassed anybody, because the whole concept of sexual harassment is the invention of a conspiracy of humorless biddies out to castrate successful men and take their money!") The article's all about the legion of Herman Cain defenders who've sprung up in the three weeks since we first caught wind of his alleged history of harassment. Below, find the remarkable collection of quotes Lithwick has compiled to illustrate her point. They paint a pretty bleak picture of the right's stance on gender relations in this allegedly enlightened anno Domini, 2011.

Road John Derbyshire, National Review: "Is there anyone who thinks sexual harassment is a real thing? Is there anyone who doesn’t know it's all a lawyers' ramp, like 'racial discrimination'? You pay a girl a compliment nowadays, she runs off and gets lawyered up."

Road Laura Ingraham, The Laura Ingraham Show: "We have seen this movie before and we know how it ends. It always ends up being an employee who can’t perform or who under-performs and is looking for a little green."

Road Kurt Schlichter, New York Post: " … the only things you need to file a lawsuit are the filing fee and a printer. Facts are optional. … Where sexual-harassment law once protected women from being forced to be the playthings of crude lechers, it’s been transformed to enforcing a prim puritanism that drains the humor and humanity from the workplace."

Road Sen. Rand Paul, quoted at Politico: "There are people now who hesitate to tell a joke to a woman in the workplace, any kind of joke, because it could be interpreted incorrectly."

Road Rep. Steve King, quoted at Slate: "It's a terrible concept to define an action by the perception of the perceived victim."

Road Ex-Sen. Fred Thompson, National Review: "These alleged victims and their lawyers — no matter what they may say publicly — are champing at the bit to come forward for their day in the limelight and the inevitable book deal."

Incredible, isn't it? Apart from the plain inhumanity of accusing strangers of dastardly selfishness, sans evidence, because they happen to accuse a beloved public figure of something nasty, the right's wagon-rallying around Herman Cain reveals an extraordinary lack of logical rigor. Taken to its conclusion, it imagines out of existence any misbehavior by anyone, so long as that someone is someone they like. There's no whistle-blowing that couldn't, in theory, be ascribed to some selfish motive or misunderstanding. For example: You could say that Fred Thompson doesn't really think Cain's accusers are selfish money-grubbers; that he's only claiming so because he wants to enhance his profile by commenting loudly on a hot-button issue. But you shouldn't. Because there's just not enough evidence either way.


  1. jason says

    I think that women sometimes do invent harassment charges based on their hurt feelings rather than on any tangible act of harassment. I was the victim of false charges myself. You have to look at each act on its merits rather than assume that all women are beint truthful all of the time.

    On a general level, my concern is that there is this distinct form of pro-female political correctness out there which cedes to women certain privileges which are counter-productive to our rights as gay and bisexual men. You only have to look at the clothing double standard and the bisexual double standard. Don’t deny that women exploit them.

    Women are not these innocent, lovely creatures they always claim to be.

  2. say what says

    Jason you nit wit

    these are not allegations

    these are 3 cases where an investigation occured and Cain’s lawyers agreed to the pay off/ settlement per the evidence against their client

    If these were 3 females with little hurt fi- fis’ then cain’s lawyers would have seen to no pay off and the 3 females fired with nothing

    Repubs are idiots

  3. Hal says

    Oh no, conservatives. You don’t get to play the victim here, not after how you motioned to impeach Clinton for something that was (albeit skeevy but for an entirely different reason) consensual.

    The way conservatives backpedal, excuse away, and lie about this is rather damning. This should be a serious eye-opener for everyone. We should show them what we think about their arrogance, their hypocrisy, their lies at the booth. Let them know that they are not welcome.

  4. Max says

    Thus, the media colluded to ignore Solyndra, Fast and Furious, or anything else that could make their false messiah look bad, in favor of going back decades to dig up questionable claims from anonymous sources about a formidable challenger.

    All Cain, all the time, all based on anonymous sources. Snipers.

  5. Matthew Hintzen says

    I wouldn’t mind so much thier dismissal, but then where were they when Candidate Clinton was being attacked over Gennifer Flowers. Sauce for the Goose.

  6. LuckyLinden says

    So where was this outrage when conservative groups paid for press evnts, makeovers, and bought commercials on behalf of Ginnifer Flowers and Paula Jones, then cast as helpless sexual harassment victims of presidential candidate and then-President Bill Clinton? Why is it always attention/money seeking when past allegations pop up against conservatives, but essential information the publc needs to know when against liberal candidates?

    And seriously, the hate on Brandon is weird and weirdly personal. If you don’t like him, fine, but random comments over a few weeeknds attacking him for his, from my layman’s point of view, well written pieces seems over the top. He’s an award-winning journalist according to Andy, I’d expect slightly wordier, context driven pieces on the weekend. The hate feels like the kind an ex (boyfriend or professional rival) takes out on the comment section of your blog. Not this one comment but the various ones that pop up saying the same thing each weekend.

  7. Abie says

    Sexual harassment aside, Herman Cain’s continued presence on the political stage at all shows an extraordinary lack of logical rigor.
    He is comically inappropriate as a presidential candidate. Unfortunately, hardly anyone is getting the joke.

  8. Rich says

    @say what- Methinks you are woefully ignorant of how tort law works in the real world. Let me give you an example from my personal experience:

    I had parked my motorcycle legally next to the curb on a public street with a car parked on my left side and went into a local market. Twenty minutes later, I found that the bike had tipped over onto the hood of the car. The cause was that the road paving had too much tar and had melted under the kickstand. I reported the damage to my insurer and the car owner.

    Negligence on my part? I think not, but the insurance company paid out $1200 to the car owner. The simple fact is that it was cheaper for them to pay than to defend the claim in court — my honor be damned.

    I don’t know the facts of the Herman Cain cases, and the alleged victims choose (so far) not to let him confront them and air the specifics of their grievances. I can only presume that Cain’s attorneys felt it was in the National Restaurant Association’s best interests to settle the claims rather than defend them, and as a result, the charges against him remain “not proven.”

  9. Brian in Texas says

    @ Say What

    Cain’s personal lawyer’s were never involved. This was a human resource issue. The women in question were essentially paid severence. Once you accuse the boss of sexual harrassment you can no longer stay employed there. It would be dysfunctional. Cain never admitted to any wrong doing. This was a completely internal issue.

    Sexual harrassment is a very vague gray construct. Now if someone was groped, touched, or more…that is sexual ABUSE.

  10. Max says

    Brandon, that was a beautiful response to UFFDA. You seem like a great guy.

    I think, however, your writing could say more with less. You would have greater impact, perhaps, if you limited the editorializing (and parentheses) to a single, stand-alone sentence following the blog post. The strongest part of this post is the list of quotes. The rest is not even necessary to support your main argument.

  11. Chris in Ohio says

    I am not defending Cain, but often times insurance companies will just settle instead of going to court. It happens!

  12. PLAINTOM says

    One woman= possible misunderstanding, Two woman= boorish behavior, Three women= behavior pattern.

  13. mike128 says

    The defense of Cain reveals as much about conservative misogyny as does Cain’s treatment of the women in question. I thought we’d move beyond the era of blaming the victim. And I’ve personally never been in a work situation where the difference between appropriate and inappropriate jokes, etc was not evident, despite what the conservative commentators above argue. If a significant number of people are questioning the work-appropriateness of your behavior…. well your behavior is probably the problem.

  14. mike128 says

    P.S. Can we PLEASE ban comments that use the work “methinks”? Is that even a word – really??

  15. says

    Dear Max:

    Thanks! Im a great believer in writing less, especially. But every now and again — usually about once a weekend — I publish something that I think may require some explication. The point made in the last two sentences of this article, for example, which I dont think was self-evident from the quotes, or even from Dahlia Lithwicks piece.

    I could write a dozen things like this per weekend, but I dont, because I know Towleroadians mostly dislike prosiness. But some do like prosiness. *I* like some prosiness. So I include some of that. Anyway, I was hired here on the strength of a whole mess of 1,000-word-plus editorials, essays, and polemics, so Ive gotta assume that Im expected to do more than recap some other story from time to time.

    Anyway, thanks for reading, and for chiming in. Much appreciated!

    Hope you had a splendid weekend,
    – BKT


  16. Max says

    Say What says it’s Bush’s fault! Three years into Obama’s presidency, and it’s all still Bush’s fault. Let’s see how well that excuse works on election day.

  17. nedu says

    @max the media reported the solyndra not an obama fan but your argument that the media largely ignored the issue is absurd.the fact that solyndra went bankrupt is just a matter of risk.businesses run the risk of going bankrupt all d right wingers will always want to make a deal out of for your loving righties,let them win the election for all i care but please dont complain when they start passing their extreme views into law i guess that will make you feel alot better.if u are one of those log cabin republicans then good for you.

  18. MattS says

    I suggest we, as gay men, write letters to John Derbyshire and tell him, in graphic terms, what we’d like to do to him. Pretend he’s . Then we’ll ask him if sexual harassment is a real thing, since we were just paying him a compliment.

  19. Wilkby says

    What’s funny to me about all this business with Cain is that suddenly, Republicans now believe that racism does exist!

  20. Max says

    Nedu, I don’t really care about the Solyndra “scandal” for the exact reason that you cite: “businesses run the risk of going bankrupt all d time.” What’s irritating is that the media freak out over decades-old, *anonymous* allegations against a Republican, yet yawn and look the other way when something very current involves Obama.

    Wilkby, yes, and their double standard will backfire. Liberals are attacking Cain because he is Obama’s challenger, obviously not because he’s black.

  21. jimsur212 says

    Sexual harassment can be a very grey area. I know a man who owns a company that asked a subordinate out on a date and she said no. He did not take no for an answer and asked her a second and third time and she sill said no. Classic sexual harassment? She could have hired a lawyer and sued him.

    He asked her a fourth time and she said she would go out for a drink with him if he promised never to ask her again. They have been married for nine years.

  22. nedu says

    @max am yet to see the media bias double standard.i dont consider politico left an independent,i personally think his fellow conservatives leaked the yr 10 yr old sexual harrasmenent.anyone who is going to become a presidential candidate should expect stuff like this to happen however cain handled the situation in such a medicore way.why not say it happened and that the issue was rather vague rather than saying you cant remember if their was a settlement and then he stated otherwise.remember rev jeremiah wright and bill ayers during obama s campaign.i personally dont think hermain cane is that smart to begin with.mitt romney seem to be the smartest of them all but everyone is entitiled to their opinion cos am sick am tired of hearing media bias and am yet to see it.

  23. Christopher says

    Jesus, Brandon, it’s not “prosiness” we object too (nor could we, since that isn’t even a word) it’s your sophomoric editorializing in what should be a straight up news piece. This is not “explication”. It’s masturbating on the page—and not in a good way.

  24. CarlottaVonFunkenhowzer says

    LOL. I forgot about Paula Jones. Did she ever get around to getting a nose job? Oops! Sexual Harassment!

  25. Baby Jane says

    Unlike homosexuality, sexual harassment is a choice one makes- an awful, immoral choice. If you do the crime, you do the time and have to live with those consequences.

  26. Rowan says

    Nah, completely disagree Christopher. Like Brandons work but loathe your comments. You bring nothing to the table.

    And Brandon, Max as a right wing Obama hater loathed ANYTHING negative about the right written.

    I LIKE opinion pieces but there a lot of nasty peices of work on this site who lwant Towleroad to be a boring website that copy and pastes news.


  27. Tyron says

    Love that old Fred Thompson jumped in on this one. He’s still hawking that “reverse mortgage” garbage on TV. Now if that doesn’t make his opinion close to worthless I don’t know what would.

  28. just_a_guy says

    I’m with Rowan. I like to hear real voices. I don’t come here to see a computer-generated news aggregation.

    While I think voice can come through in clever selections and arrangements and not just prose, prose should not be off limits. And while I like the intimacy of writers and commenters conversing, I’d rather read more on-point comments with a compelling voice of their own.

    Love you, TR article writers–all of u.