Ask the women — it’s a power move

Yet again, high profile men are flashing their genitals at unwilling onlookers, and yet again, other men are trying to ask us to show sympathy, and understand that men have normal, human sexual needs. I know that! But maybe we should be listening to the women on this matter.

I’m sure most of you know that famous lawyer and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin exposed himself during a Zoom call. A business-related Zoom call to do some kind of election simulation. With multiple people on it, including women. And he was rubbing one out right there.

I don’t care that he says he thought he had muted himself and wasn’t visible to anyone else. To be really honest, I don’t even believe him. Regardless, though, one should not be jacking off during a business meeting, particularly where video connections are involved. There’s just no excuse. You shouldn’t wank your junk under a conference room table during a meeting; you shouldn’t rub one out during a video call either. It’s unprofessional, gross and like I said before, abusive.

Now it seems he’s lost positions at the New Yorker and CNN at the very least, and I’m glad. If you can’t wait until after the Zoom call to do your business, you have no business doing public business and making a mint off of it. Crawl back to your hole.

But the really shocking thing was how many other guys—mostly other white guys because who sticks together better than white men?—defending him. Saying how those of us complaining are shaming men for having needs and shaming the act of masturbation.

Yeah, we’ve got needs, I’ve got needs, masturbation is perfectly normal and healthy. But this behavior is not an expression of healthy sexual desire. Louis CK was getting off on domination games — he was forcing women to witness him, and that was the thrill, the power and intimidation. Ask the women and they know — the joy for the perp is making women to submit. Power!

I get a taste of that too. I get a fair bit of hate mail, written by guys who loudly despise me, and one of the most common things they do is send me gay porn. I don’t get as many dick pics as many women do, but the point is that I know they are not sending me these photos as an expression of healthy sexual desire. They send them as a threat, as an expression of their power. It’s not an expression of the psychology of courtship of sexuality.

Women have been telling you that for years. They aren’t turned on by flashers. You can’t defend flashers with the claim that they’re just fulfilling sexual needs.


  1. imback says

    At the minimum, Toobin lacked consideration. It may not have been an overt power move but rank obliviousness, which itself comes from privilege.

  2. tommynottimmy says

    I wouldn’t trust anyone that doesn’t have the self control to not start masterbating during a meeting. I don’t like the phrase, “Men have needs” because it seems to imply that if we don’t ejaculate we will die. And for some it means they need to RIGHT NOW. Grow up and learn some self control.

  3. bcwebb says

    Since the people who send you gay porn are presumably nominally not into gay porn, I really have to wonder how the finding and selection process goes. Do they just google and send the first thing that pops up (hehe) or do they spend a lot of time finding just the right gay porn to send you?

  4. PaulBC says

    bcwebb@4 I’ve often wondered about the rightwing use of “cuck”. It just seems like they know an awful lot more about all kinds of porn than I do. (Granted, I can find nearly anything on the internet, porn or otherwise, though I normally limit this superpower to obscure UHF TV ad campaigns of the early 80s).

    On the subject of masturbating during a conference call, I believe it is wrong and non-consensual, but not actionable either. Getting caught shows poor judgment both in engaging in this behavior in the first place, and also (assuming it is accidental) showing carelessness that compounds it further. (I have had my blog comments show up when screen sharing in Zoom, and that’s mortifying enough; shame on me, I should respect my colleagues and pay attention.)

    Toobin has done some good journalism, but he sure doesn’t get a “pass” for this. If he has to retire early (doubtful!), it’s not like he will be out there begging on the street.

  5. says

    @5 & @4
    Back when I was in college the campus had two newspapers. The normal one called The Barometer and the special one for college conservatives called The Liberty. I tracked down the delivery day of The Liberty and used to slip the nastiest gay porn I could find in between the pages. I found the most cost effective way was the magazines from the local porn store. Toward the end I was smearing a little Vasoline on them to A make them a little stickier and B make them that much more gross for College Republicans.

    Was I being too evil?

  6. PaulBC says

    @6 Clarification: I mean doing it and taking appropriate precautions not to get caught is not actionable.

    My main reaction to #MeToo and the exposure of Fox News in particular is that these people really need to grow up. Acting like dumb teenagers isn’t a good look when you’re middle aged and pulling in 6 or 7 figures. I also think they are bad people, but even bad people can learn to behave themselves professionally and separate the workplace from their personal kinks. Their inability to do so (or maybe that they do it because they like the risk, or that there is no risk because the boss has their back) is the part that surprised me, but doesn’t really anymore.

  7. PaulBC says

    Ray Ceeya@7

    Was I being too evil?

    Yup. But we’ll pretend you didn’t say it. “Go and sin no more.” and all that.

    I suppose it would be interesting to see if any of them kept it instead of throwing it away (works better if you just leave it dry in that case).

  8. says

    Well it was 20 years ago and I was a bit of a punk back then. I’m amazed I didn’t get caught. I probably would have been expelled. In the meantime the College Republicans were allowed to place poster sized pictures of aborted fetuses all over the quad every spring.

  9. sc_262299b298126f9a3cc21fb87cce79da says

    Are these the same guys who are offended by the sight, by the very presence, of nursing mothers?

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    “Ask the women,” says our esteemed host – yet it appears all the gendered names replying so far are male-identified.


  11. says

    The ladies can tell you they are taking none of this shit.
    Oh, he thought nobody could see him, but he was watching. He used his colleagues for his own sexual gratification without their consent.
    So yeah, treat him like you’d treat a guy who masturbated under the table and got caught because the floor had a high gloss polish.
    Personally, I’d send whoever defends him to a chat with HR.
    Oh, and as for “needs” : I can probably outwank all of you bepenised people on accounts of having the type of anatomy that allows for 2 orgasms in 5 minutes without making a mess and I have never, ever wanked at work.

  12. says

    anatomy that allows for 2 orgasms in 5 minutes
    So jealous of that. I rarely orgasm when I have sex. I still enjoy myself, but well the Big O just isn’t the main attraction for me.

  13. says

    @Ray Ceeya 7
    You were reinforcing the feeling that gay is a “gross” thing to be used as a political tool. It keeps the homophobia going. Don’t get me wrong, I have similar memories of things I hold myself responsible for now.

  14. says

    Like I said, I was a very angry punk back in those days. I have mellowed out a lot in my old age. My activism has become better focused than the raw rage of 20 years ago.

  15. says

    @Ray Ceeya 18
    It’s one of those things that is a continually updated skill. Thanks to the tourette syndrome I get to keep the anger but but still have to keep, maybe “preening” the expression is a good analogy. Unless similar brain systems are actually involved.

  16. llyris says

    Pierce R Butler @ 14 re: ask the women…
    It’s just another entitled man being sexually awful. You may as well say it’s a day ending in ‘y’. Ho hum. The cynic in me says this is only causing a stir because he did it in front of men too.
    Anyway – some thoughts:
    Possibly some men don’t recognise it’s about power, they’ve never had the experience. Women are all too familiar with it. It’s just a little further down the scale than the boss who isn’t listening because he’s too busy staring at your boobs.
    But if course it is, because he’s saying having a wank is higher on his list of priorities than attending to the meeting. Apparently he is more important than the meeting, and more important than the other people at the meeting. Hell yes it’s about power. He probably wasnt expecting any repercussions, because he’s sure he’s too important for that to happen.
    I really hate that ‘men have needs’ excuse. It suggests that women don’t, which is also damaging and adds to power imbalance. (If women dont ‘have needs’ then there is no point in attempting to get their willing participation in sexual activity, so it somehow follows that it’s fine to just whip it out and stick it in whichever woman you like) Also, what the??? Cant control himself for an hour, must masturbate all the time…. sounds like a teenage boy. How old is this guy? Are other guys not saying ‘does not sound physically or medically plausible’ out of some wish to be 20 again and able to jack off like the Energizer bunny? Is he expecting a pat on the back for being such a virile, strong, manly man? Yeah, he probably is.

  17. PaulBC says

    Yeah, I thought of saying something about “erection stimulation” and it seemed rather juvenile, but there I just said it.

  18. ardipithecus says

    This was a sexual assault on everyone who was on that call. The excuse that he thought the camera was off is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that he did not have the consent of the others on the call to use the situation for his own sexual gratification.
    This was not a mistake (except maybe the camera being live part). Such events don’t happen by accident. He likely has a long history of jerking off on calls. The only new thing is the camera, wherein he may be truthful about lack of familiarity.

    As for “men have needs”. . . FFS gimme a break!

  19. PaulBC says

    How about men have and demonstrate self discipline? (Women too. It’s called being a grown up.) Whiny boys have “needs.” I have to admit the “men have needs” line never fails to make me apoplectic.

    And don’t get me started on Brock Turner!

  20. PaulBC says

    And FWIW it seems like more of a wanker move to me. But you did say “ask the women” so I will defer to their judgment.

  21. klatu says

    “Men have needs” is not a defense. It’s an attack. On women’s (and everyone else’s) right to participate in society unmolested. It is the same line of reasoning used to force women to only leave the house with a male chaperone or while wearing some kind of veil. And for FGM or the ironing off of girl’s breasts, lest those wicked women awaken male urges. Because, you know, men are all horrible rape monsters who cannot control themselves (or they like to pretend to be so as not to be held accountable). That’s what “Men have needs” actually means.

  22. says

    “Men have needs” is not a defense. It’s an attack. On women’s (and everyone else’s) right to participate in society unmolested.

    Indeed. It’s really just a fancy way of saying “I’m an asshole and I wish you’d let me get away with it.”

  23. DrVanNostrand says

    The first news stories I read about this very carefully framed it as “he accidentally exposed himself”, which sounds like an odd, but possibly harmless situation. Just another coronavirus Zoom mishap! HaHaHa!!! The reality is apparently so much worse. I don’t get these people.

  24. Numenaster, whose eyes are up here says

    “Men have needs.” If he is adult enough to manage his need for food without eating off other people’s plates, he is adult enough to manage his need for sex without imposing it on unwilling participants. If he’s not capable of either of those things, he’s not an adult yet and shouldn’t be in public (even on Zoom) without a minder.