Sunday, August 12, 2018

Casting A Wide Net



You don't have to be a misogynist like Donald J. Trump to understand the problem with one of these questions. Donald Trump would not recognize the problem- but many fair-minded and normal voters would.

 The Huffington Post reports

For the past seven months, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) has been asking President Donald Trump’s nominees the same two questions.

“Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?”

“Have you ever faced discipline or entered into a settlement related to this kind of conduct?”

Hirono  states “The questions have never been asked before. And why is that? Because it would take a woman to ask questions like that, I would say.”

And I would say that's a fairly insulting remark to make about women.

Question no. 2 is only logical because it is disturbing if the applicant has faced discipline or entered into a settlement related to improper conduct.  Not so reasonable is "have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?"

"Verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature" is so vague as to be meaningless. "Verbal harassment" is a subjective concept, one likely defined extremely broadly by Senator Hirono and very narrowly by a man who has committed verbal harasssment. Additionally, the question implies an equality between verbal harassment and physical harassment. There is a difference between the alleged behavior of, say, Al Franken and that of Matt Lauer.





Similarly, "have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors" is begging for a lie in response. There are tens of millions of men alive, and others now deceased, who have made an unwanted request for a sexual favor. Often, when the request is met with a "no" or "leave me alone" or "get lost, you creep," the incident abruptly ends. Even Senator Hirono's husband, being a man, may himself have done this at one time.

But no man is going to reply "yes" to that first question posed by Senator Hirono because it opens a Pandora's Box.  The question itself implies that if a man makes a request for a sexual favor- and sexual favors do not have to be intercourse, vaginal or oral- it is itself disqualifying, even if there was reason that the man did not expect it to be unwanted.

Senator Hirono is probably very safe in her Senate seat from Hawaii. However, people are watching and voters are watching. Hillary Clinton, determined to "break the glass ceiling," did not grasp the backlash from many voters, most but not all of them men, who sensed that some politicians harbor anti-male sentiments.  Until men are banned from the voting booth, Democratic office-seekers should not disregard their perspective.




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