Some men simply have no clue

One of the astonishing features of the current spate of revelations about the way that men have been sexually harassing women is how many of them seem to have expected the women to welcome their advances, even if they had absolutely no reason to think so. A most glaring example comes from Minnesota where state representatives Tony Cornish and state senator Dan Schoen are accused of harassing two women, one a lobbyist and the other a fellow legislator.

While the actions of Cornish against the lobbyist were more egregious, it is the case of the other accuser Erin Maye Quade that I found noteworthy.

“I am not alone in experiencing harassment at the Capitol,” said Rep. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley. She said Schoen texted her repeatedly asking her to meet soon after she first became a candidate for a House seat and that Cornish texted her during a House floor debate commenting on her appearance.

Maye Quade, first elected in 2016, provided the Star Tribune with a text message from Cornish in May 2017 in which he wrote that he “got busted for staring at you on the House floor… Haha. I told him it was your fault, of course. Look too damned good. Ha. I must be more gentlemanly when I run for governor.”

What is astonishing is that Maye Quade is married to another woman and that is well known because when she ran for the legislature in 2016, her Republican opponent made a big issue of her being a lesbian and also of the fact that her father is black. Quade still won but those two aspects of her private life were very much in the news and known to everyone.

Here is a photo of Cornish.

Here is a photo of Maye Quade (on the left) and her wife.

So what made Cornish think that Maye Quade would welcome advances from him? The only thing I can think of is that he had such an inflated opinion of his own looks and personality that he felt that she would be unable to resist the attraction, so much so that she would change her sexual orientation because of it. I think that many of the men who behave badly must really think of themselves as dazzlingly attractive people and that women should be flattered by their interest. It reminds me of this cartoon of how some men tend to view themselves.


  1. says

    All you have to do is imagine if you’d like it being done to you. I believe that works because people’s reactions to dominance and aggression are symmetrical: dominant and aggressive people don’t like being dominated or attacked. Louis C. K. would probably not like being masturbated at -- he ought to have realized that. Another way of thinking the same thing is to imagine “would I like it if Steven Segal did that to me?” (Pick your least favorite gross public figure) I do not believe that any of the people who are claiming that “she seemed to like it” are even fooling themselves.

  2. springa73 says

    Re: men imagining that they are much more attractive than they are -- I think a lot of that comes from the fact that men aren’t criticized or mocked nearly as much for not conforming to cultural standards of attractiveness. Women are much more likely to be critiqued or downright humiliated if they are perceived as being unattractive, so they are more likely to internalize a very self-critical attitude (sometimes to the point of endangering their physical and mental health). Men, with much less negative feedback, are more likely to develop an inflated opinion of their own looks.

  3. says

    “No Clue.” That’s absolute bullshit, and I wish people would stop acting as though this were so. These men are not fucking clueless, they know exactly what they are doing, which Marcus already expressed: it’s about power. It’s about control. It’s about stomping women back into their place. It’s about threat. Men have been doing this shit since forever, let’s not act like you’re all a bunch of gormless half wits.

  4. says

    All you have to do is imagine if you’d like it being done to you.

    I think a lot of men do, which is why a common homophobic way to start a sentence is “If a guy hits on me…” So they’ve already imagined unwelcome advances from men, but they’ve convinced themselves that women are okay with it.

    Also of note is how many homophobes think they are irresistible to gay men.

  5. Dauphni says

    Being a lesbian myself, I’ve encountered so, so many men who thought they could totally be the one to turn me straight. It’s really no different from any other toxic masculinity-fueled entitlement that’s still so pervasive in our society.

  6. besomyka says

    Not a harassment tail, but certainly in the ‘men have no clue’ wheelhouse. In 2013-2014, I was a neighborhood organizer for a politician, and one of the things I did was organize and participate in ‘block walks’. We curate people we want to have face to face conversations with, and send people out to go talk to them. Once I sent everyone else out, I usually took a packet myself.

    This one day I ended up speaking to a guy who was married to the woman that answered the door, who had no desire to talk politics, and just wanted to take me out for coffee never-mind that I made it clear I was married … to another woman .. and his wife was right there behind him watching though the window.

    I just chalked it up to ‘creepy old dude’ and moved on. In a different context it may have been more alarming..

  7. Mano Singham says

    Marcus @#2 and Caine @#4,

    Trying to show dominance and having no clue are not mutually exclusive traits. Cornish could well have been trying to show dominance with Maye Quade but any person with a clue could have told him that he had absolutely no chance of success.

  8. Onamission5 says


    Someone who thinks lesbian relationships are valid and not about the observer but about the people in the relationship would behave differently, would care that he doesn’t have a chance. Someone who doesn’t care what the target wants, who’s playing a game where the object is to stake out territory and humiliate the target/interloper so they don’t mistakenly get the idea that they have some power in the situation, would behave exactly the way Cornish did.

    Chances are very high he doesn’t care if he has a chance of success or not. It’s about asserting his bonerfeels, expressing dominance, and humiliating female people. It’s territorial behavior: I belong, I matter, you don’t. That she’s a lesbian doesn’t matter except in the sense that he could also feel the urge to punish her for being unavailable, or he could believe that lesbians are fair game because they lack a male protector since women only matter as they relate to men, or he could believe that IRL lesbianism is like porn lesbianism-- all about the ladies until the right guy comes along to join them.

  9. says

    Mano @ 8:

    Cornish could well have been trying to show dominance with Maye Quade but any person with a clue could have told him that he had absolutely no chance of success.

    It’s not about having a chance or success. That does not factor in at all. It’s what Onamission5 @ 9 said. The whole ‘clueless’ narrative has to go. Do you not realize what you’re doing, by accepting and spreading that narrative? You’re removing agency from men, and along with that, any responsibility for their actions. Of course they know what they’re doing. Do you really want to pretend that the majority of men have made it all through their lives without knowing these behaviours are wrong? That they are such simpletons they have never taken this part of societal behaviour on board, although they easily took on the rest?

    Going with the whole “eh, without a clue” business is part and parcel of the “boys will be boys” nonsense, and it allows men to continue perpetrating these acts without consequence, because people are always providing an excuse.

  10. Onamission5 says

    To back up Caine @10, and to sort of repeat myself:

    Halfway decent guys who can’t imagine hitting on someone who doesn’t demonstrate at least a little interest in them so therefore assume similar intent on the part of Cornishes are the clueless ones here, because they can’t see other, predatory men’s behavior for what it is.

    So, rhetorically, what if the point of showing a woman your* boner isn’t that you think doing so will cause her to want to have consensual sex with you, rather, what if the point of showing her your boner is because she doesn’t want to have consensual sex with you, and you want her to know that what she wants doesn’t matter, that no matter what she’s there for you will only regard her as though she’s there to be a sex object? What if it’s not an invitation but a threat? What if it’s not a demonstration of sexual interest but a means of testing boundaries to ferret out future assault victims? What if you do this not because you cluelessly think these women want you but because you know they don’t? What if the whole point is not a clumsy pass but to make them deeply uncomfortable? Are you still clueless?

    *general you

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