Maddow: The Cain allegations expose systemic dismissing of sexual harassment


Rachel Maddow summarizes the case against Herman Cain in his having settled with two women for sexual harassment. Talking Points Memo put up a list of things that don’t affect the allegations that have been thrown chaff-like into the discourse to throw off the media. The summary contains choice responses from the right-wing, trying to smokescreen the allegations.

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While it’s sad that this scandal is happening, it’s good in a way, so people understand just how pervasive this dismissiveness of women’s concerns happens to be. The people who are primarily pushing back against the very concept that a woman can be sexually harassed, are the people who engage in it the most. No matter how the legal system protects women from this kind of anti-woman vitriol when they bring these charges forward, they are not actually being protected by this system. The climate is so chilled as to be impossible to get justice if you’re a woman and you’ve been mistreated. I don’t know how likely it would be to achieve restitution if you’re a man and get harassed by someone in power, because you hardly hear about it.

The women in question signed settlements that included non-disclosure deals, and apparently want to talk about it, but probably can’t. Cain did not receive terribly much scrutiny for the harassment immediately after the fact back in the 1990s, while he was but a mere pizza magnate, but a presidential race will dredge up every aspect of your past that’s less than unimpeachable and all that which was once hidden is uncovered and exposed to daylight. And the reaction from the right-wing — the wagon-circling you’re seeing in dismissing and slut-shaming the women, calling them gold-diggers and prostitutes, and Limbaugh’s super-classy “what, are they synchronizing their periods?” — these right-wingers are in keeping with their characters.

One side of the political spectrum seems to love telling victims to “think twice” before they complain that they’re being victimized. And it ain’t us lefties. If you’re engaging in the same sort of dismissiveness, slut-shaming, calling women gold-diggers for trying to have some measure of justice in the face of gross abuse of male privilege, and you claim to be a liberal, well… you’re kinda in the wrong company.

Comments

  1. says

    If something bad happens, and you want to bring it forward, one side of the political spectrum will tell you to “think twice” before you dare to do so. And it ain’t ours.

    Umm, what? Yes, this shit does often come from “our” side, and you know that because you’ve been posting about it rather well recently. Do you mean perhaps that you don’t *want* it to be ours?

  2. Achrachno says

    “The women in question signed settlements that included non-disclosure deals, and apparently want to talk about it, but probably can’t. Cain did not receive terribly much scrutiny for the harassment immediately after the fact back in the 1990s, while he was but a mere pizza magnate, but a presidential race will dredge up every aspect of your past that’s less than unimpeachable and all that which was once hidden is uncovered and exposed to daylight.”

    And to a considerable degree that’s in the public interest. The public needs to know what sort of people are standing up as potential leaders, even if many people apparently don’t want to know.

    What I want to know is — isn’t there some way to break these “no disclosure” deals in the public interest? The powerful use these a lot to hide the extent of their criminality, in all sorts of matters. Regular folks almost never have access to this ability to bury their crimes by paying money.

  3. Randy says

    Maddow’s skit was not a valid comparison. Unless I missed something over the weekend, it is currently unknown whether Cain sexually harassed anyone. We have accusations and denials. That’s it. There is no “body”. Settlements are evidence of nothing other than nobody really wanted to go to court to send anyone to jail or give anyone a criminal record. To me, that speaks volumes.

    The timing also speaks volumes. Why is Cain’s alleged sexual harassment only important now that he’s a candidate? That is suspicious, to say the least. Surely a pizza president should be held to the same standard as a US presidential candidate, when it comes to sexual harassment.

    Cain is quite right to point out that most witnesses to his behaviour have nothing negative to say about him in this regard. Does anyone honestly expect any accused person NOT to make this case? If you were accused wrongly, wouldn’t you make this point? You’ll notice that at the end, even Maddow and her guest could not suggest how Cain should deal with this, even as THEY spent ten minutes assuming his guilt, and about a minute supposing that we should be fair (but only if Cain doesn’t suggest any accusers might be lying!).

    I’m about as far left as it is possible to get, in Canada. I think Cain is probably a moron, and certainly not a nice guy. But that doesn’t make him guilty of anything.

    What IS more likely is that of all the thousands of people Cain must have interacted with in his life, some of them are not good people, and saw Cain as a money-making opportunity, and now see him as an even better money-making opportunity, possibly even the launching point for new careers on the talk show, reality show, and book-of-the-week circuit. Of all people, freethinkers should know and be wary of the amount of money there is to be made on selling BS.

    Yes, when making claims of illegality about someone, you do need to think twice. It’s good advice. Because you’re going to be asked to prove it, either for the public, or in a court of law. And if you can’t prove it, then you may find yourself in legal trouble. I think that’s probably more true in Canada than in the US.

    While I think it’s stupid to attack the accusers in retaliation, this is a political campaign, and stuff like that is one reasonable expectation when you attack a candidate on any basis. The accusers must have known that in advance.

    My request to anyone would be not to settle or plea bargain anything. It’s a corruption of the legal system, and the truth loses. If you have a genuine complaint, go to court, and see it through to the end. This is one reason I think we need to make our courts more accessible to the poor.

  4. says

    Randy, any “attacking” the accusers did was years ago. At least two of them made their accusations long before anyone considered Cain might run for book promotion president. Nothing about that timing is suspicious.

    Nor is it suspicious to have additional people come forward once accusations of harassment are made. Harassment is very isolating, and people like you do their best to focus on the accusers rather than the accusations. It often takes the knowledge that one isn’t alone to make reporting bearable.

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