Men in power who don’t listen for the word no

I heard a quote from a women’s panel on sexual harassment and assault this morning and it is sealed in my brain. “Pandora’s Box is open and Pandora is pissed off.” I was thinking about this quote as I am disturbed after the revelations that veteran and award-winning journalist Charlie Rose was accused of sexual harassment and assault by eight women. This is like finding out your favorite uncle has done some bad things. But, even Rose does not get a hall pass for his behavior.

More women are feeling empowered to tell their stories that they have been tortured by for many years. Too many have been shamed into changing jobs, derailing careers, and losing their esteem because men in power are “not listening for the word no.” Whether they are in politics, business, religion, law, teaching, or run a store, restaurant or plant, men in power are used to hearing the word “yes” by subordinates. The more powerful they become, the more insulated they feel from culpability.

As a young District Attorney, Senate candidate Roy Moore felt insulated as he trolled the malls creepily looking for pretty teen girls he could influence. He said to several who balked at his advances to remember that “I am the DA and no one will believe you.” Arkansas Governor and President Bill Clinton used his sway to garner consensual sex with subordinates in administration and is alleged to have tried advances on women who were not consensual.

But, the one whose behavior disgusts me the most is the Man in the White House. Not only has he admitted to sexually assaulting and harassing women on several occasions (people tend to forget the Howard Stern interview admissions in light of the Access Hollywood tape), he bragged about being able to do it and not get caught. And, as for his defense that the Access Hollywood tape was “just locker room talk,” I personally find that a load of BS as I have never heard such talk in a locker room.

When his boasts are compared to the accusations by sixteen women, some who came forward before the Access Hollywood tape surfaced, it is uncanny how Trump describes precisely what he is accused of. But, these were not just adults. He bragged (and was accused) of his penchant to walk into beauty pageant dressing rooms to see the unclothed contestants. Mind you, he did this with the Miss Teen USA pageant, as well.

Pandora has the right to be pissed. CBS, PBS and Bloomberg have all fired Rose. I think Alabamans need to tell Moore that he is not worthy of being a Senator. While I love Al Franken, he needs to step down or announce he will when a replacement is found. And, the accusations of one Donald Trump need to resurface and his resignation needs to be demanded. They will not get it, but if others are being held accountable, then so should he. Then, other male managers may get scared straight to hearing the word “no.”


15 thoughts on “Men in power who don’t listen for the word no

  1. Note to Readers: Here is one of the quotes from Donald Trump on Howard Stern’s show from a Huffington Post article.

    “I’ll go backstage before a show, and everyone’s getting dressed and ready and everything else,” he told Stern. “And you know, no men are anywhere. And I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant. And therefore I’m inspecting it.”

    Trump continued from there. “[Y]ou see these incredible looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that.”

  2. Note to Readers: Although I did not clearly state this, one of the contributing causes is a delusion that accompanies the egoism of power. These men often are deluded that women find them attractive when the women are just trying to make a good impression at work or to gain employment. For example, Charlie Rose felt the women had a mutual attraction, yet none of the eight women accusing him said that was true. I believe this is not unusual for men who have sexual misconduct.

  3. I wonder if Pandora’s box hasn’t flown open as a result of the odious behavior of our infamous orange leader. The timing is….well…

    Not long ago my friend’s dear, nearly 90-year-old father had to be reprimanded for asking his “bather” to fondle him. This news was so stunning to me, that I really put some thought into what drives this really strong native urge in men. This gentleman had always been a paragon of propriety and a supporter of women’s rights. He was slipping into dementia when this event occurred, which tells me that whatever was going on was something buried very deeply, something that had been suppressed for decades, and most likely something that most men need to work hard at suppressing. It is an innate drive, tied to the male DNA for reproduction.

    This knowledge does NOT give men a pass to harass women. Nor does it mean women should excuse men who fail to control themselves. But, if we understand how natural this urge is, won’t we all be better equipped to deal with it? Men must know that the demon lurks. And girls must be prepared and taught from a very early age how to deal with an almost inevitable assault on their femininity. It’s simply a fact of life and I’m glad we are now shining a light on it.

    The news about Charlie Rose saddened me, but did not at all surprise me. I have often watched him interview a women, leaning ever so far across his infamous table, practically prostrating himself before her, and acting as if he had some intimate connection with her. That always raised the hairs on the back of my neck, as did the credits and music for the show which screamed to me that he was probably a real control freak. I could just picture him “jiving” to his beloved into music.

    Saddly, I believe his journalism is solid. He usually asks very good questions and is good at keeping an interview on target. But I believe his notoriety lead him to believe that he was a man god, above reproach. Arrogance has a way of destroying those who give in to it.

    • Linda, great comment. I told my wife it is sad that Rose will now be more remembered for this than his body of work. But, he brought it on himself.

      As for the 90 year-old man, I think we men just want attention. We look for any inclination that a women (or man depending on what floats your boat) might be interested. It is not uncommon for a man to read interest when there is none. With those in power, this misread (or delusion as I reference in my second comment) is a powerful aphrodisiac and the powerful and willful man may act on it.

      I am still amazed by the revealing of oneself to someone as an act of foreplay. This is well-passed bold and presumes much more interest than is present. With former Congressman Anthony Weiner, it was via a text. The texting a picture to woo someone is beyond inanity, plus it leaves an electronic trail. It is no surprise that the former Congressman is in jail.


  4. Very well said, Keith. I agree … if we are to hold any accountable, we must hold ALL accountable, including the odious occupier of the White House. I cannot understand why more people are not incensed and calling for Trump to step down. Have we become inured to it? Is he correct when he says he can get by with anything … is he truly coated with Teflon? I just don’t understand.

    • Jill, too right. All must be held accountable. We are so tribal we elected a man you would not leave alone with your teenage daughter. Moore fits the same bill. Keith

      • Jill, I read Trump may campaign for Moore. I hope he does as that would resurface his track record which is as bad or worse than Moore’s. Keith

      • One would think it would resurface his track record, but … BUT … any more, I’m not so sure. They elected Trump, and Moore’s approval rating has come back up in the polls, with many now saying they don’t believe the women who came forward. I see Steve Bannon’s hand in that …

  5. Good post, Keith. When DT said he went backstage at the pageant and there were no men around he was right. I don’t think of him as much of a man because of what he’s done. These guys not only don’t listen to the word “no” they don’t care about it. They think they’re above it. My dad used to use the words “dirty stinker” for such a man and I think that’s perfect. —- Suzanne

    • Suzanne, dirty stinker is an old term, but seems to be not quite descriptive enough. I try not to curse, but this person makes me want to. I had a colleague who would not curse, but I will repeat what she actually said to define the President. She would actually say “Bad word, bad word.” Keith

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