Good Sex, Bad Sex
by Calendar Hacksaw
Please accept in advance my most sincere apology if this month's column doesn't live up to your expectations, lacking as it is in the usual sparkle, wit and scatological references. I have just emerged from three miserable hours of total immersion in "Sexual Harassment" refresher training, and now must place into context what I have learned and how I might employ this newly acquired body of knowledge in a work environment totally devoid of any opportunity for human interaction, aside from the urinals and the peek-holes between the stalls.
Don't get me wrong; sexual harassment is serious business, and not something of which to make light (he said, straining hard not to place a preposition at the end of a sentence). I have known the harassed, I have been harassed, I have known the harassers, and I have imposed strong discipline for infractions, when warranted. I would not want my wife or granddaughter to fall victim to a harasser; a breed of evil-doer I rank with the common pedophile or rapist and whom I wish no better. Let the bullets fly.
Power is an aphrodisiac, I'm sure you've heard. Some covet power for all the wrong reasons; others simply wish to suckle at its breast, knowing they will never achieve it on their own. I have had the pleasure of supervising literally hundreds of fine and qualified women during my professional career, and have never, ever been accused of sexual harassment. This is because I have never done anything that could be even remotely construed as meeting any definition of sexual harassment. As one particularly shapely young thing once said to me, "Mr. Hacksaw, sex is the absolute last thing any of us think about when you're around." That's quite a complement. It has been easy for me, but for those with the "sickness," it must be impossible to control.
Indeed, sexual harassment has been with us for a long, long time. But, it didn't become primetime entertainment until the 80s with the televised confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, accused of sexual harassment by his former law clerk, Anita Hill. I think the majority of senators on the confirmation committee believed Ms. Hill's version of events, but gave Thomas the nod in spite of it. After all, these senators were power brokers, too, just like Thomas. It came as no surprise to me last month when Justice Thomas sided with the majority in ruling that cops have every right to handcuff you and throw you in jail for an offense as trivial as a seatbelt violation. "Police" equals "power," and power shall prevail.
President Clinton was not a sexual harasser. It wasn't in his nature, I guess, and he didn't need to be, anyway. He had power, and that power attracted many females, including Monica Lewinsky and others just like her, seeking the invisible "pseudo-power" they thought would come with having a close personal relationship with someone of such stature. I suspect Monica learned a great deal from watching the techniques of her mother, Marcia Lewis. She certainly didn't get it from her father.
In my own experience, I have had a small number of female subordinates who tried to endear themselves to me in a similar fashion. But because their actions were so obvious and transparent, I found it quite easy to avoid and deflect them, letting it be known in the process that no such opportunity existed, or ever would. It didn't matter and I didn't care what their individual motives might have been: pseudo-power, or just a way of getting out of doing the work they were hired to do. But if you buy a working mare and she says, "Leave me in the barn and I'll promise you a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs every day," you've bought the wrong horse.
I would imagine that trying to strike up a romance in the workplace is almost impossible in this day and age. I can't imagine how would one go about it. A long time ago, a Resident Deputy in Twin Oaks managed to go so far as to marry a fellow deputy sheriff. Or perhaps it was the other way around; I didn't know them that well. And she wasn't really a "fellow," either. I'll bet the first time he frisked her he thought she was pretty hefty, until he remembered that she was wearing a vest. But somehow they pulled it off, and I have to give them credit for that. At any point early in their relationship, a cry of "sexual harassment" would have put a quick end to the whole affair, and probably would have destroyed at least one career.
I had a man working for me once who was in his late 50s, supervising a trio of twenty-something females, which he referred to as his "girls." He did this with the same spirit that a coffee shop waitress calls her regulars "honey." But one of the women took offense and filed a sexual harassment complaint, which went to a full hearing and resulted in strong disciplinary action. The physical effect that this had on the old boy was unbearable to watch; he was hurt so deeply and it overshadowed his long and dedicated career. He was born in Altus, Oklahoma, and anyone in Twin Oaks would have been happy to have him in our midst. But he was sacrificed instead at the alter of political correctness. We lost a fine human being.
So while I remain steadfast in my revulsion toward those who practice sexual harassment, particularly those who engage in so-called "quid pro quo" practices in which sexual favors are demanded in return for continued employment, promotions or raises, I hope that there will always be a safety net available to catch the innocents. Words and phrases alone do not constitute misdeeds, and allowances must be made for cultural differences, regional practices, ethnic traditions, and a host of other variables making make it difficult to nail down a sexual harassment allegation with anything close to 100% accuracy.
But for those who deserve it, I say, "Let 'em hang until they're long past dead, and then let 'em twist in the wind a little while longer."
Calendar Hacksaw hangs out at http://www.calendarhacksaw.com and he remembers only one question from his Sexual Harassment class: "A person builds a house with four sides and each side has a southern exposure. A bear comes to the door. What color is the bear?"