So we may be reaching the tipping point that Malcolm Gladwell describes so well in his book of the same name when it comes to sexual harassment and sexual assault in this country. It is strange that the tipping point seems to be the revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s long history of abuse. Now we have a daily decapitation of some powerful or influential man in one industry or another as more and more women tell us all the awful truth.
I thought that it should have occurred in the last election cycle, that America would reject Donald Trump and thereby unleashing this torrent as it is being unleashed now. But I have a partial theory as to why it didn’t happen with Donald Trump when he was outed by over 20 women last fall.
My theory is that many Republicans were so incensed by our double standard when it came to this issue that they did what we did when we chose to ignore Bill Clinton. Be partisan about it. Make excuses. Blame the women. Deflect, compartmentalize it, deny it was a big deal. We saw many a Republican do this after the Access Hollywood tape surfaced and we were collectively outraged. Most Republicans I know were aghast at the tape. Even Mike Pence went into hiding for the weekend, but when they saw Trump might have a chance to survive it, what did they do? They rationalized it.
What did we do about Clinton? When Paula Jones came forward? When Juanita Broaddrick came forward? When Kathleen Willey accused him of groping her? And what about Monica Lewinsky? Sure she said she was in love and a willing participant, but the power disparity was something I can’t imagine we would have overlooked had it been…(insert any Republican you wish here).
Look at those four with fresh eyes and try to justify what we said each time. What would we do if it were a Republican who had been accused? It might make you disgusted with yourself. It might let you step inside a reasonable Republican’s shoes for a minute and see why they think we are hypocrites. It might be part of the reason it took so long for us to reach this tipping point that is so long overdue. We should not forgive in ourselves what we condemn in others.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about the Fox news crowd. And I do not accept that we (Democrats) are going easy on Weinstein. Some might have been slow on the uptake, but there is plenty of outrage among Democrats. But we can understand a little better why they saw us the way they did on this issue. And besides, we have plenty of other reasons to be outraged at them. This isn’t one of them. What we need is for a unified force to stop this behavior. And now it seems to be happening, everywhere. It is a good thing and it has taken way too long.