Jennifer Wright touches on something I’ve never understood about the attempts by various institutions to protect the sexual harassers in their midsts (boldface mine):
Al Franken is considering a return to politics after being caught on camera groping a woman and being accused of harassment by half a dozen others. Matt Lauer is supposedly also aiming for a return to television and his co-workers believe that “a comeback is possible”. Charlie Rose is planning to host a show where he interviews men “brought down” by the #MeToo movement. I can only imagine this will be to indicate that you can sexually harass eight women and not be “brought down” to a point where you stop hosting TV shows.
Meanwhile, Brock Turner, the former Stanford University swimmer who received an incredibly light sentence after being convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, just appealed the conviction claiming that he only sought “outercourse.” His biggest punishment seemed to be that he lost a swimming scholarship and had to register as a sex offender which seems like a reasonable thing to do if you are, in fact, a sex offender. Mercifully, he did not actually win that appeal, but you would think that Brock Turner might want to stay out of the spotlight for at least a year.
I’m all for forgiveness, but it’s hard to believe that after six or so months any one of these men has really changed in a way that means they’ve made amends. There’s nothing to indicate that they’ve been through counseling, worked with women or done much of anything to show they’re a changed person. If they have comebacks now, we’re telling them that the only punishment for harassing women is that you have to take a time out and sit in your mansion for a while before returning.
Women who experience sexual harassment have careers that are derailed forever…
That is not my personal opinion. Maybe if these guys were pioneering cancer doctors I’d say we have to overlook their transgressions and let them get back to work ASAP for the common good. But they’re not even the best entertainers we have. I really believe that we can find another elderly man who does not expose himself to people who will do about as good a job as Charlie Rose.
There’s an apocryphal story about a mâitre d’ who tells a regular customer as he’s leaving, “I won’t see you next week.” When asked why not, the mâitre d’ responds that he’s taking his first vacation in 21 years. Shocked, the customer blurts, “Why not?” The mâitre d’ leans over and says, “I didn’t want them to realize they didn’t need me.”
Most harassers–and this includes scientists–really are dispensable. Someone else could star in that movie, host that TV show, or use the grant money wisely. Yet too often, some act as if we couldn’t make it without them. Most of the time, that’s just not the case. I think this realization might scare some people into wrongly opposing #MeToo.