Because of the sensational reportage regarding Fox News suits and firings, and now that other subjects are grabbing headlines, it seems timely to try and coldly unravel the hot subject of sexual harassment in America today.
According to federal law for companies with 15-plus employees (companies with less are under state laws), "sexual harassment is considered to be a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . . . unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects and individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment . . . Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted)."
The first part of this law is somewhat objective, but "simple teasing, offhand comments, isolated incidents that are not very serious" are very elastic clauses. Here’s another American law affecting all citizens in or out of the workplace that is solid in meaning: individuals are considered innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of proof is on the plaintiff.
Whether the men being sued and fired for sexual harassment in the Fox News cases (or any other cases) are upstanding or loathsome is not relevant legally. Choosing to settle monetarily out of court may infer culpability, but it is not relevant to actual guilt. So what is relevant? Unless there are witnesses, recordings, or physical evidence proving "harassment," how can truth be determined?
A secure, masculine gentleman will never seek the unearned or unwelcome affection or submission of anyone, woman or man, under any circumstances. A secure, feminine woman will never abide inappropriate behavior from anyone, man or woman, under any circumstances. Nevertheless, there are men in this world who because of immaturity, insecurity, cultural habit, or pure power lust will misuse women. Of course they should not. But they do. Also — sorry, ladies who flirt — women are like traffic lights, and men can see whether the signal is solid or blinking red, amber, or green.
Many women claiming harassment five-ten years after the stated time frame of a man’s inappropriate behavior suggests disingenuousness because they are seeking monetary "compensation" into the millions of dollars. These females are viewed as "victims" of discrimination and malfeasance by women’s groups all over the country, also begging credibility. Why aren’t these women’s groups protesting the genital mutilation of American-born little girls, which must be a bit worse than remarks about cleavage? One might wonder if all this "victimization" is about the sovereignty of woman or about the emasculation and humiliation of men, the male power lust in reverse.
Speaking of cleavage, are the Fox News females in short, short skirts and high, high heels with skimpy, skimpy tops dressed this way out of personal preference or by company dictate? Such attire is provocative, invitational, and in bad taste for a professional woman whoever’s idea it is. A woman of intellect and professional pride would never choose nor succumb to such sex-object garments, job be damned. And if one does dress "sexily," she has no standing to complain about male advances.
The "casting couch" is the oldest piece of furniture in the household of human history.* Men who offer or demand the couch or even make suggestions in its direction regarding employment or any other situation are heinous and should be admonished. Women who offer or accept the couch or any of its variants for professional advancement or job security are just as scandalous — and self deprecating to boot.
In the end, aside from physical force, a woman is the deciding factor. If she tolerates verbal abuse, it will continue and/or escalate. Tweeting about it only raises questions: "Is she broadcasting this because she is upset, or is she secretly proud to be so attractive as to garner attention from a famous, powerful, wealthy — add your own adjective — man?"
If a woman willingly or reluctantly accepts physical intimacy, that is her price to play. In today’s world of cell-phone video and recording devices, evidence is not difficult to obtain. . .when it is real. If a woman will not confront unwanted male attention, then she needs to grow up to the reality of timeless male-female dynamics and handle them like a mature adult. Confrontation need not be aggressive. A simple, "Please do not ever speak to me that way again" after the first or second approach will politely let a man know you are not a toy. If inappropriate behavior continues, report it, record it, or get another job. Toleration is permission.
Like other animals of prey, aggressive human males will stalk the weakest, insecure, or submissive to dominate or devour. In the wilderness of human interactions, if a woman does not want the sexual attention of men, she must exude the solid red light — STOP — observable to all by dress, demeanor, and conversation in a manner that demands respect. If disrespect is present, set the matter aright or seek other territory.
*A personal note: this writer enjoyed an extensive performing career in NYC consisting of everything from writing-hosting network radio talk shows and TV evening news features, theater, film, TV commercials, copywriting for a major Madison Avenue advertising company, touring the U.S. as an exclusive Clairol TV spokeswoman, even showroom swimsuit and hosiery modeling gigs (plenty of flesh there). In all that variety of activity, I was only twice approached for a stint on the casting couch, and both invitations were "respectful," straightforward business arrangements in return for huge monetary and professional gain. My answer in each case was a flat "No." So no jobs there, but no pressure either; end of story. My solid red light was always on and men knew it; therefore, I experienced great camaraderie with male employers and co-workers and had lot of fun working with them. Ergo: I know personally of that which I speak above.
Alexandra York is an author and founding president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a New-York-City-based nonprofit educational arts and culture foundation. She has written for many publications, including "Reader’s Digest" and The New York Times. Her latest book is "Adamas." For more on Alexandra York, Go Here Now.
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