Recent events flooding the news media relating to sexual harassment and abuse compel me to share my thoughts on this very sensitive topic. And I know that what I'm about to share will disgust some and be rejected by others, but I'm not deterred. For what I offer is my view and my truth that I feel needs to be expressed.
I'd like to start by referring to a popular TV sitcom from the early 2000s called Two and a Half Men (please stay with me as there is an important point here).
This show is based on two brothers living together, one single, the other divorced. Charlie was charming, charismatic and interested in only one thing ... sex. He had a "knack" where, with very little effort, he attracted beautiful women to his bed. Alan, on the other hand, wanted sex, but didn't share the intrinsic talent of his brother and had to work really hard for it. And he did work hard.
If the show had a third brother, he would probably have been the brother who didn't care and wasn't at all interested in sex. But what the writers of the show already knew was that if they had a nickel for every man in America that had no interest in sex, they'd be broke. Thus no third brother.
My point is that every man (yes, I know there could be an exception somewhere in Toledo) is interested, often driven to have sex. And this is supported within our culture in that men are expected to initiate the process that offers some chance of achieving this goal. For example, what woman, at the end of a very enjoyable first date wouldn't hope and even expect that her date would lean in for a good-night kiss? I contend, not many. So the stage is set.
Men are the progeny of those throughout history who were successful in having sex. Over the eons only those who figured out how to get it produced offspring. And only those cunning enough, charming enough, deceptive enough, strong enough reproduced. And we, the men of today, are their direct descendants (except for the occasional girly man). With that in mind, why would anyone ever doubt that "men will be men"?
However, this isn't an excuse or free pass for any man's bad behavior, but let's all agree that men are here for one primary reason: to procreate. It's not an accident that there are more than 7 billion people in the world. Left unrestrained, men will have sex with their wives, their neighbor's wives, their female friends, their co-workers, their relatives, and any total stranger that's available to them. (I've even heard about farm animals, but I won't go there.) They will coerce with logic, alcohol, fear, and lies and take advantage of opportunity ... whatever it takes to have sex. And the only thing that restrains their behavior is severe punishment.
For the most part this problem has been solved in the private sector (i.e. corporations) sometime between the late 1970s and early 1990s. Today, the CEOs and upper management of large companies, if tempted to initiate or participate in inappropriate behavior, know what will happen if caught and also know there's a good chance they will be caught. Accordingly, for the most part, this rarely happens in the business world except, perhaps, in Hollywood and the media. This doesn't mean these men are not interested in misbehaving, just that the likely punishment far exceeds the short-term pleasure.
Oh, I'm sure many of the "girly men" reading this commentary will disagree and consider me a barbarian of sorts believing that men are just all about sex. But to do so is to ignore the facts ... Matt Lauer, Roy Moore, Bill Cosby, Bill O'Reilly, Charlie Rose, Al Franken, John Conyers, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Clinton, etc., are only those high-profile men recently caught misbehaving. More names will come while many will count their good fortune having avoided disclosure.
This tendency exists deep inside the genetic makeup of men and will continue to exist as "men will be men" into perpetuity. Men with power over women, with secrecy and protection on their side, will continue this bad behavior. The only solution is to make it easier and safer for women to report sexual harassment and abuse and then severely punish the perpetrators via disclosure to their peers, to the voters (if an elected official), and, when appropriate, to the criminal justice system.
Men watching men lose their jobs, lose their careers, lose their families, lose their reputations, and even go to jail will make a difference. And although you'll never see a change in men's desire, you will see a positive change in their behavior. And in my mind, that's progress! Δ
Gary Wechter is a retired businessman, occasional barbarian, conservative, and enthusiastic Trump supporter living in Arroyo Grande. Send your comments through the editor at.