I would begin, “Please don’t misunderstand…” but I have long learned that those words are always wasted. People who want to misunderstand will surely do so, as on the day when three senior English majors were pleased to construe a perfectly anodyne joke I hatched (to cover my irritation about rampant absenteeism) as a crude sneer at suicides. (I had murmured, “Absent again? Question 5 must have driven them to suicide!”) These prissy censors decided to be offended rather than opt for a more civil, friendly, and obvious interpretation of my words; and as for me, I will never forget the offense I felt at being so zealously cast in a villain’s role. No, I didn’t feel “raped”: I just felt slapped in the face.
So misunderstand, if you will… but listen: women who don’t wish to lure into the open their male colleagues’ Inner Swine probably shouldn’t leave dozens of photos on Google images showing themselves buck naked (or peu s’en faut), with the skimpiest of remaining strings or veils, perhaps, serving only to emphasize what isn’t in plain sight.
The Tweeden woman who is protesting Al Franken’s multiple molestations—and rightly so—might have considered that when you ring a bell in Professor Pavlov’s lab, all the dogs within earshot start to salivate. I had no idea who this young woman might be; someone wrote that she was a newscaster. I did a quick search… and my iPad’s screen started to blush. Ms. Tweeden, I second your outrage, and I have decried the degeneration of male manners over a lifetime twice the length of yours… but if you don’t want the neighborhood strays nipping at your heels, don’t go jogging wrapped in strings of fresh sausage.
For fifty years and more now, feminism has been encouraging young women to flaunt conventions of decency (if not to advertise an overtly licentious lifestyle). This was always a nasty pit-trap into which the most impressionable girls took hard falls. Here they were told by academic mentors that they were going to gate-crash male lairs of privilege…. and all they accomplished was the rush-delivery of more low thrills to the worst kind of man.
I don’t know if the news desk and the Hollywood “casting couch” are distinctly different pieces of furniture any more, at least for young women. If a daughter of mine were considering a broadcast career, I would warn her to develop a thick skin and study karate. And if Megan Kelly, who hasn’t stopped protesting her harassment at FOX since her exit therefrom, really believes that she was originally hired only for her interviewing skills, then she must be the most naive human being ever to utter the words, “Tonight we begin our coverage…”.
It’s not right, of course, that women in particular should have to be eye-candy in order to land such positions. Ratings rule, however, at the end of the day. The profession is invincibly sordid in that regard.
Teaching isn’t so very different. You can possess the knowledge of a Henry Kissinger about international affairs—but if you conduct your Topics in Diplomacy seminar in soporific monotone, you’ll soon be looking for a new gig (unless, that is, you are actually Henry Kissinger).
I wish we could recover some vestige of manners. Few people loathe the moral and cultural cesspool in which we dwell more than I. But as I recall my single days in the Eighties, when women never wanted to see you again if the first date didn’t end in bed, and as I now read of actresses feeling “assaulted” when a nonagenarian in a wheelchair slips his arm around their waist, I can’t help but conclude that today’s girls—for their own good—need to do their calculations all over again. This world of “rights” and “freedoms” has grown dangerously pathological. Don’t assume that any space is safe, ladies, and learn to keep your guard up better. Listen to your grandmothers.