Do they never learn? Do we never learn? Regardless of everything we have learned, men behaving badly just keeps hitting the news. Good grief.
In an awful month at the end of a terrible year, I have two points to make .
1. The Benefit of Hiring Women
When Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Ginsberg, he ensured smooth sailing for the confirmation in at least one regard.
While I don’t think that fewer than two years as an actual sitting judge qualifies someone for the highest court in the land, I am relieved that no charges of sexual impropriety will be leveled at Judge Barrett. Yes, she is a devout Catholic but that doesn’t always guarantee altar-boy behavior in a male candidate. We know this.
Judge Barrett is a woman, however. Aside from the fact that women are less likely than men to do stupid sexual things, she is a working mother of seven children. Whenever would she find the time?
2. Another Stupid Male Politician
Which brings me to Point Two: Cal Cunningham and the North Carolina Senate race. Talk about pulling defeat from the jaws of victory; this provides a classic example.
In a highly contested Senate race, one that could help determine the makeup of the US Senate for the next four years, one where he was ahead in the polls and the Democrats had hope of winning, Mr. Cunningham revealed that he was just another oblivious man who can’t keep his Text Messages zipped.
Three hours after his Republican opponent, Sen. Thom Tillis, reported that he had tested positive for Covid-19, thereby throwing the campaign into turmoil, Mr. Cunningham’s campaign confirmed to the Raleigh News and Observer that he had exchanged sexual texts with a woman who was not his wife.
Fortunately, it appears that words and pictures were the only things he exchanged with the woman and no bodily fluids were involved.
Thank goodness for small favors. When it comes to men behaving badly, we are grateful when one doesn’t act worse.
Men Behaving Badly on the Campaign Trail
But really. Really! What was he thinking?
Did Mr. Cunningham think that no one would find out? A whole army of politicians on both sides of the aisle from Wilbur Mills to Donald Trump could have disabused him of that fantasy.
Did he think that no one would care? While it’s true that Republican voters are more likely than Democratic voters to overlook a scandal, this is a very important, very close race in a crucial state. Couldn’t Mr. Cunningham have exerted a modicum of restraint on behalf of his party, at least until the election was over?
Did he think? We all know what happens when a man starts thinking with his little head instead of his big one and it’s rarely a pretty picture. Mr. Cunningham, is likely to lose his wife, his family and the election. He wouldn’t be the first, not by a long shot. Men behaving badly on the campaign trail has a long and sordid history.
Buh, Bye Historically Sexy
I can’t help thinking about the woman in this story and wondering if she really thought he cared about anything besides getting into her bed. The text exchanges prove that she was a willing participant.
I sure hope she wasn’t putting too much into this relationship because the inevitable happened as soon as it all came to light. When a man has to choose between family-power- career and another woman, even one he described as “historically sexy,” he will kiss the fling buh-bye. As Mr. Cunningham did with astonishing speed.
“I have hurt my family, disappointed my friends, and am deeply sorry,” he said. “The first step in repairing those relationships is taking complete responsibility, which I do. I ask that my family’s privacy be respected in this personal matter.”
Here’s the second step: Buh-bye, lover.
We Don’t Need This
In a truly awful year, in a year when one bad thing happens after another, a year when we just don’t know what’s going to happen next, we didn’t need this. Cal Cunningham should have known better and he ‘s going to pay a price. I just hope the rest of us don’t have to pay that price along with him.
So, in the hope of fending off another October surprise, November naughtiness, or December disaster, I offer once again my 10 Rules for Avoiding Sexual Harassment. I wrote them primarily for use in the business world but they apply just as well when it comes to men behaving badly in politics.
10 Rules for Avoiding Sexual Harassment
Rule #1: You are responsible for your own lust.
No female employee is casting a spell on you, enticing you, seducing you or compelling you to do anything. You may feel lust for someone in a business. You may think a woman in your company is sexy. You may think she’s showing off her bust or her legs. You may want to use one of these as an excuse to express your desires. But that does not give you permission to act on your lust. Ever. You’re a grownup: control your actions.
Rule #2: Keep your hands to yourself.
Women in a business setting are not there to be touched by you in any way. They are also not asking or inviting you to do so. Their bodies are their private property, not your toys. Don’t touch.
Rule #3: Keep your pants up and zipped.
If you have to use your power and authority to get sex, you don’t have much going for you. Using your power to force a woman to give you sex may make you feel like an alpha dog but it actually says you’re just a sex hound and a loser in the real world. It also says you enjoy wielding your power to make others do what you want. That’s sadistic.
Stick to Business
Rule #4: Speak up when you hear or see something.
This is a tough one because boys are socialized never to tattle on one another. You suck it up and “take one for the team” if necessary but you never rat out your buddies. Business is not a playing field, however. If you hear another man say something or see him do something that constitutes sexual harassment, take action. To quote David Hurley, former Australian Chief of Defence, “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” What standard do you want for your company?
Rule #5: Don’t hire jerks or creeps.
If a man has been guilty of sexual harassment in a previous company, he will continue that behavior in yours. Don’t expect a serial predator to stop just because he now works for you. Don’t expect HR or his boss to monitor and control him. Use the Myra Kraft rule for hiring. She didn’t want “thugs and hoodlums” playing for the New England Patriots and you don’t want creeps and jerks in your company.
No Quid Pro Quo on Men Behaving Badly
Rule #6: Think of female employees as family.
Don’t say—or tolerate any other man saying—something to female employees that you would not want said to your sister, your mother, your daughter or your wife. If it would make you uncomfortable in a family setting, it should make you uncomfortable in a business setting.
Rule #7: Don’t ask a woman to do anything for you that isn’t related to business.
That includes asking her to smile, to touch you, to spend time with you, to have drinks or eat dinner with you, or to perform any sexual act whatsoever. Nothing. If it’s not related to business, it’s out of bounds.
Rule #8: Don’t make any business activity dependent on sexual acquiescence.
Tying a raise, a bonus, a promotion, a round of funding, or a special assignment to the performance of a sex act is not just sexual harassment, it is extortion. That’s a crime. Are you a criminal? Do you want to go to jail?
Keeping Your Job — and Your Wife
Rule #9: Think about seeing your actions in print.
Before you say or do something, especially if you’re going to justify it as something you deserve because of your exalted title and position, think about seeing it in the newspaper, online, or on TV tomorrow. That just might happen. After all, it happened to Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly at Fox News. How would that publicity affect your company, your job, your marriage and your family?
And then there’s everyone’s favorite serial creep, Anthony Weiner. The former New York Congressman threw away a promising political career, a beautiful accomplished wife, and his child by indulging his desire to send out dick pics to women and girls. Mr. Weiner pled guilty to a federal obscenity charge—a felony. He’s unemployed, divorced and disgraced—the poster child for stupidity. That’s not anybody’s career goal.
It’s Not Difficult
Got that? Those rules are not difficult to understand. They will help you avoid behaving badly and the trouble that goes along with it. Now, go forth and think before you act. And let the rest of us get through 2020 without any more unnecessary turmoil.