Sexual harassment digests a degenerate thug like Harvey Weinstein with a college student who makes an awkward pass or a well-intentioned boss who compliments a dress.

Comment: Notice the placating sop, accepting Harvey Weinstein as obviously guilty and "degenerate." This is called a virtue signal, to establish "hey, we're hermanos, we hate the same kinds of people." In this position, it's trying to placate the reader, but this is pointless, anyone who agrees with you won't mind, and anyone who minds won't agree.

man and woman at work
© Lwp Kommunikáció / Flickr
Are you exhausted with sexual harassment allegations? Their noise and strut are turning into one of those chronic conditions that we schlep around with, like athlete's foot. Or a hangnail.

Comment: Apt analogy.

As I write this, Tennessee State University announces that it considers whistling "in a suggestive manner" to be sexual harassment. Depending on the tune, it may lead to suspension or expulsion. The College Fix explains:
In sum, there are at least 20 different ways students and employees can be found guilty of sexual harassment, according to the policy. Campus officials state they will consider the 'totality of the circumstances' before deeming whether an act is sexual harassment.
In the expanding reach of sexual harassment, 20 ways today is a down payment on 30 ways tomorrow. Did this-or-that fellow do what a snowballing list of accusers claim he did half a lifetime ago? Are starlets-in-waiting gullible enough to go to a Hollywood mogul's hotel room to watch a video? Do such naifs actually exist, or are they mythical creatures, like bread-and-butter flies? How many women posting on #MeToo are telling the truth?

Comment: -25%. In many cases, the women accusing are actively trying to victimize or punish men for their "toxic masculinity."

There is a kind of baroque grandeur to the chorus of high dudgeon. But how much of it is bandwagon hysteria? How much free-floating animus?

Comment: This is one baby that needs to go out with the bathwater.

A Vague Crime with Accusations Sufficing to Convict

Forgive me for wondering if there might be some gravy in the feedbag for women willing to cooperate with efforts to bring down men targeted for their politics. Or simply their authority. Harassment accusations are a handy tool for spite, jealousy, or retaliation for assorted grudges. In a widening pool of indicters, there are bound to be women channeling George Washington Plunkett: "I seen my opportunities and I took 'em."

Which ones are they? None of us know. Not really.

Comment: And we can never know.

What we do know is that something called sexual harassment is an imprecise but stubborn old nuisance sharpened into a crime by Catherine MacKinnon in the late '70s and codified by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As first introduced, the term referred to a loose chain of workplace irritants never to be confused with sexual battery, rape, or attempted rape. By now it has expanded into an all-purpose indictment, a universal solvent for turning radical feminist choler into a blunt object.

Like that shapeless thing in the old sci-fi movie, "The Blob," the concept of sexual harassment swallows everything it meets. It digests a degenerate thug like Harvey Weinstein together with a college student who makes an awkward pass at a girl, an office worker who tells a risqué joke, or a well-intentioned boss who compliments a woman on her dress. MacKinnon's devouring blob is covered throughout the country by a mélange of federal, state, and city laws as a form of discrimination under human rights laws.

Delirium over harassment plays out like the courtroom scene in "Alice in Wonderland." You remember it: The Queen of Hearts had made some tarts and someone took them quite away. Who did it? Theft is pinned on the Knave of Hearts, but evidence is a shambles, scanty at best. Accusations fly; denials tumble over each other. The king calls the jury to consider its verdict. His wife interrupts: "'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first-verdict afterwards.'"

That is where we find ourselves now in the flood of unverifiable allegations hemorrhaging from college campuses and corporate offices to the Capitol. Huff and wrath arriving years, even decades, beyond their sell-by date ought to make us look closer at this inquisition.

People Could Have Resolved Many Incidents Long Ago

How many women had a knife at the throat while they were propositioned, their knees patted, or their backsides-maybe-fondled? It was not threat of bodily harm, actionable in itself, that kept women in resentful silence all these years. Timely retaliation seems to have been largely impolitic. Women-and a few men- kept mum until the coast was clear.

Comment: That has always been the point. In order for feminists to maintain the narrative of women as oppressed and violated, they had to redefine violence. They had to spread and stretch the definitions of rape, assault and harassment.

Now, no one asks the question as to whether or not there was violence and coercion. Men coerce and are violent by their very existence. It's being surrounded by rape culture that keeps women silent. Yadda yadda yadda.

That is the only way the #MeToo retaliation timeline can make sense, and feminists know it. But if you reject their premises and theories, then what you are left with is bad women using their social privilege to hurt men, because they want to.

Not all but enough of them, particularly in Hollywood, seem to have been as much on the make as the men they rise to accuse years later. At the time, they were intent on other gains. Their silence-until-now tilts into collusion. It is too late to adopt the posture, hand over pudenda, of the Venus of Modesty.

Groping is high on the list of alleged offenses. Have women forgotten how to deal on the spot with the folkways of boors and lechers? We are not in crinolines. We can dig a high heel into an instep. Shout, kick, make a scene. Anne of Green Gables would have been capable of more grit than late-emerging complainants on network news.

Comment: Yeah, but part of the problem is the conspicuous absence of crinolines.

But the codification of sexual harassment was intended less to enable women than to certify their victimhood and, simultaneously, to hobble masculinity. In the looking-glass world of harassment jurisprudence, every move, every exchange between a man and woman has become subject to forensic review. That is because heterosexuality was its intended target from the get-go.

The Idea Is to Subvert Cross-Sex Relationships

In "Toward a Feminist Theory of the State" (1989), Mackinnon famously characterized heterosexuality as "the eroticization of dominance and submission." The social roles of men and women are "created through the eroticization of dominance and submission." Sexuality itself is a form of power:
Gender, as socially constructed, embodies it, not the reverse. Men and women are divided by gender, made into the sexes as we know them by the social requirements of its dominant form, heterosexuality, which institutionalizes male sexual dominance and female sexual submission. . . . [Sexuality is] a social construct of male power: defined on men, forced on women, and constitutive of the meaning of gender.
In brief, masculinity is oppressive. Women need state clout to liberate them from the hierarchy of gender and its twin, harassment. Accordingly, at the height of the women's movement, an obliging state adopted MacKinnon's Marxoid reduction of sexuality to power relations.

Comment: Essentially yes, her point was that women as a Marxist defined identity class are not powerful enough to consent, therefore all hetero sex is rape.

The legal definition of sexual harassment is flexible, varying with the state you live in or in which you were allegedly harassed. It could range from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on . . . well, that depends.

Elasticity accommodates MacKinnon's insistence on a woman's feelings as the gauge of reality in these matters. She calls it rape "when a women has sex and feels violated." Buyer's remorse is indistinguishable from rape, as rape from harassment, because perception, not facts, is conclusive.

Comment: It's like Minnie Driver said in response to Matt Damon in Fruitcake Minnie Driver claims men can't understand what abuse is like.
There is no hierarchy of abuse - that if a woman is raped [it] is much worse than if woman has a penis exposed to her that she didn't want or ask for ... you cannot tell those women that one is supposed to feel worse than the other.
Obama Yes We Can
© Garen Thomas
Men make the arrests. Men guard the jails. So yes we flippin' can.

The subjectivity of perception intrudes on what might otherwise be no more than a private matter between two parties. Let me illustrate.

Not very long ago, a lesbian couple in my neighborhood wanted a baby. Not interested in adoption, they sought a pregnancy. Parishioners in the local Episcopal church, they asked their music director if he would donate semen.

Was the man made uncomfortable by the request? Did he consider himself humiliated? Might a request for his ejaculate constitute harassment? Had the choir loft suddenly become a hostile workplace? Possibly. But he did not say. He simply declined.

Comment: The mind boggles at this anecdote, truly. The Church ain't what it used to be.

Imagine a heterosexual couple in the same parish approaching a single woman to ask if, perhaps, she would consider gestational surrogacy. Like the music director, she could agree or not. She could as easily call a lawyer to discuss grounds for a harassment suit. After all, the proposal was deeply distressing. She suffers the anguish of it whenever she tries to enter the church. How can she worship in a place haunted by a demeaning overture? Humiliation keeps her out.

Emphasis on personal response, however idiosyncratic or distorted, stacks the deck against men.

Comment: That is the point. This is about power. What greater power can there be than to get men to agree to throw themselves on their swords at your whim?

'Consent Puts the Woman on Trial'

Earlier this month, in an interview in The Times of India, MacKinnon restated her signature contention that consent in sexual matters is an "unequal concept." As her legal mind runs, "consent puts the woman on trial." It is men as a class that harassment law was designed to target. Writing in the New York Times after the 1991 acquittal of William Kennedy Smith in a celebrated rape case, she declared that men are "sexually trained to woman-hating aggression."

MacKinnon's slander against heterosexual men is the gift that keeps on taking. Her assertion that gender is a tyrannical system of control, and that objectivity is mere cover for male bias, has moved like metastatic cancer through the bloodstream of contemporary culture.

Comment: The most offensive part is that it is patently untrue. The feminist conception of male sexuality is dismissive and antagonistic, but it is also paranoid and dehumanizing. It is all about justifying emasculation, both figurative and literal. It is no less contemptible than racist rhetoric to justify euthanasia.

One consequence-not wholly unintended-of four decades marinating in the language of gender oppression is the snowflake phenomenon on today's campuses. Lust for repressive measures with a chilling effect on free speech and association are intrinsic to harassment culture. An entire generation has absorbed it. Error has no rights. Speech is violence. Threats to wellbeing lurk everywhere. Students are entitled to shelter from harassment by incorrect ideas, false ideals.

Comment: The snowflakes are only one symptom of "marinating in the language of gender oppression." This kind of thing has been going on for hundreds of years, and no matter what men do to try and make life more accommodating, the same complaints (as if nothing has changed) are hysterically proclaimed.

Harassment law was a calculated move in a grander project of revising the way the First Amendment is traditionally interpreted. Civil society must reject the limits of prior traditions, including standards of evidence. So, men can be convicted of harassment by the media, driven from their positions on the basis of hearsay without investigation into the validity of allegations. If they contest the charge, they face crushing court expenses and the maneuvers of enterprising or aggressive prosecutors.

Sexual Harassment Laws Are a Social Control Technique

Ultimately, what matters most in this cultural hysteria is not sexual harassment or female victimization. It is the ominous flight from due process. Sentence first-verdict afterwards. We are witnessing a replay on the level of farce of the old Soviet tactic of denunciation. Anyone can be an informer. Accusations alone, untested before a jury, are enough for today's untiring people's commissars.

Comment: It's not soviet, it's socialist. Russia didn't invent these tactics, Marx and his fellow socialist thinkers did.

Vague or overbroad harassment statutes are no mere oversight. They are a technique perfected by Lavrentiy Beria, chief of the secret police (NKVD) under Joseph Stalin. Stalin's heirs thrive among campus officials, media pundits, EEOC bureaucrats, and politicians. Some 90 years after the purges of the 1930s, Stalin's ghost is dressed in motley. But it still stalks. And under the parti-colored costume are bloody rags.

Could it be time to remove from criminal statutes an offense as pliable as sexual harassment? Consider returning it to where it belongs: in the domain of manners. By manners, I do not mean etiquette. I mean the principles that determine behavior and express the respect we owe one another. Return it, in short, to ethics and its sustaining virtues.