Female Intuition, Sexual Harassment, and Herman Cain
As the theatrics and accusations surrounding Herman Cain's purported sexual improprieties play out, I have concluded that, if the best that Cain's accusers can come up with is that he made a pass at a female companion, then Cain will continue his upward climb toward the GOP nomination, and, as an unfortunate consequence, real incidents of sexual harassment will become trivialized and ignored.
As an intern at a law firm the summer before law school, I met one of my future professors. He was loved by all. Adored for his friendly personality and popular because he was the best teacher in school, he was universally respected by colleagues and students. We became friends as he advised me throughout my first year and assisted me in finding a summer job. In order to thank him, I gave him a bottle of wine after the school year was over. He suggested that we meet after work to share the wine and conversation. Like Cain's most recent accuser, my boyfriend suggested that I meet with the professor despite my hesitations and instincts.
And instincts are the key. Women have instincts. Smart women listen to their female intuition. At the time that I ignored my instincts and decided to meet my professor, I was not a smart woman -- I was a timid young woman and a naïve future lawyer. And I may have even been an opportunist playing in a game completely out of my league.
I met my professor at school. He suggested that we go to a park, so I joined him in his car. As we passed the park, he told me that he remembered a nicer locale and eventually pulled to the side of a road, where a path took us into the woods to a small beachy area by the side of a stream. I should have turned around, but this was my professor, a man I trusted and admired, and I was too immature to know how to handle the situation. We sipped wine and talked about school and the latest Supreme Court decisions, but when he began discussing my beautiful eyes, a trip to Jamaica over Christmas break, and how he would love to see me take off my shirt, it was clearly time to go.
When I asked to leave, he made me wait until he took a skinny dip in the stream -- he was not skinny, but I will never forget the dip. I started walking toward the street, and he eventually caught up, and we drove back to school in silence. We never really spoke again, although he did mention my eyes on the one or two occasions on which we bumped into each other; I heard that one of my fellow female students accompanied him to Jamaica that Christmas.
To say that this experience was traumatic is an understatement. But I learned a life lesson -- an easy lesson, for I was safe and unharmed, notwithstanding that I had placed myself in harm's way. It is sad that a teacher and student cannot maintain a friendship without sex entering the picture, though perhaps there are relationships in which such a situation exists. But any student who believes that a professor wishes to be her friend for no reason other than friendship is not smart. Any woman who believes that a man wishes to help her find a job simply because she is in need of assistance is naïve and opportunistic. Even the esteemed "philosopher" and screenwriter, Nora Ephron, understood the nature of men and women when she wrote the following for the main character in When Harry Met Sally: "What I'm saying is -- and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form -- is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way."
And that is the price that women in today's world pay for wishing to be equals. There is nothing wrong with women going to law school or getting MBAs. But there is something wrong if women do not understand that men are men no matter what their profession. Men like women, and it is usually not because they need a new friend. As Dennis Prager noted in his recent article, "Four Legacies of Feminism," feminism has "made life -- and life for women -- worse."
Several years after my encounter with my professor, I heard that he was up for a position as a federal judge. The Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas debacle had occurred in the interim, and for a brief moment I considered making my story public. But to what end -- vengeance? He did me no harm, and I actually learned an important life lesson from him that I have carried with me throughout my career. To prevent others from being harmed? I was not harmed, and I am sure that the young woman who enjoyed Christmas break in Jamaica certainly was not either. Had Anita Hill succeeded in destroying Clarence Thomas' career, the country would have lost a great jurist and scholar who has spent 20 years on the bench upholding the principles of the Constitution.
That is not to say that Cain has attributes similar to those of Justice Thomas or that he deserves to ascend to the presidency. What it means is that American citizens deserve to hear Cain discuss the real issues facing the nation and how he will help move America in the right direction. And while it can be argued that these accusations are affording the nation an opportunity to see how Cain performs through adversity (and to that end, he has achieved a failing grade), enough already.
So when Bialek stands before the world saying, "Mr. Cain, I implore you. Make this right," I have to ask: what in the world she is talking about? If we take her at her word, she put herself in a position in which a man felt comfortable propositioning her. When asked to take her home, he did, according to her. Was he right to use his position to gain female companionship under the false pretext of future employment? No. Was she right to reach out to a superior in the hopes of gaining employment without establishing clear limits? No.
This is not to suggest that there are not women who have been the subject of sexual misconduct rising to the level of harassment or discrimination. All of these things occur in our society, and women do not ask for them. But in Bialek's case, she has no case. If you do not want to be put in a compromising position, trust your female intuition and say no. If you find yourself in a compromising position, remove yourself, but do not blame anyone but yourself. For men are men, and many of them follow their male instincts, which lead to quite a different place from where the female counterpart leads.
I do not care whether Bialek's story is true. It does not matter. After fifteen years, she should not publicly -- standing next to an attorney better known for her qualifications as pimp of the media and tort bar than credible advocate -- beseech Cain to make something right simply because he decided to run for public office.
What matters is whether Cain is qualified to be POTUS, and it is time for the discussion to shift away from unproven stories and accusations to the issues of the day. To date, the GOP base has proven forgiving and apathetic regarding not only Cain's sexual escapades, but also his ignorance on foreign policy matters, and most importantly, his electability in the general election. Which is why the more the media stokes the flames of Cain's alleged sexual improprieties, the more the distractions hurt the GOP field and the higher Obama's poll numbers climb.
So enough of Bialek and all of the other distractions that are meaningless with regard to who wins the GOP nomination (recall Bill Clinton and Paula Jones). It is time to move on to the more pressing issues relevant to Cain's competency as the leader of the free world.