This column is not going to be about Bill O’Reilly. He’s already gotten enough publicity, and he started out with a big enough head, tooting his own horn every chance to got, talking over his guests to be sure he got his own point in while diminishing whatever the guest said, if it didn’t agree with his viewpoint. I saw it as his egotistical personality.
His way of conducting his show always made me feel that he was all about getting his own way, whatever it took. And so it has unravelled in that direction, at least according to the various women in his life who told of the harassment they suffered because of him.
O’Reilly is obviously not the first or only big-name, important or powerful man to have such charges leveled against him. It really does happen all too often. And while that’s true, it doesn’t make it okay on any level, or any less devastating to the women involved in those situations. Why is it that highly intelligent men, such as O’Reilly and any number of politicians and other public figures, have not learned from the “mistakes” and poor judgment of those men before them who have ended up in similar situations, embarrassing both themselves and their families; causing their whole life to change, causing the public to lose faith in them, and losing the prestige of their jobs, which may no longer be there for them, now that they have been reduced to this level of not being able to control themselves, in word or deed.
We live in a whole different world than the one our grandparents — or even our parents — grew up in. Maybe we have a lot of modern and useful gizmos that didn’t exist then, and we surely know a lot more than we did back then, making our lives easier in many ways, but we have lost so much on so many levels; and while those who understand those words at a single reading don’t need to have it further explained, those men who have had similar charges lodged against them as those that have brought Bill O’Reilly into the recent headlines may need it explained in some distressing detail.
Sexual attraction is a wonderful thing, and on the whole, we wouldn’t want to live without it. It is part of our Creator’s plan to have it be so. But the whole thing about such attraction is that it must be a two-way street. No one wants someone’s unwanted attraction forced upon them.
I would dare say that when a man looks at a woman and says to himself, “Boy, I would sure like to [be with] her,” he might not really be thinking of a possible relationship. Might he be thinking of “one glorious night”? Or even many little “glorious daily moments”?
But sexual harassment is neither about “one glorious night” or “glorious” daily moments; and it certainly isn’t about a possible happy relationship. First of all — if I’m not viewed as jumping right past the facts of the matter — it seems that most men (the powerful, the wealthy) caught up in such sexual harassment charges are married. What an absolute insult and humiliation (to say nothing of an unkindness beyond words) to his wife to pay that kind of sexual attention to another woman.
Yet such a man (probably at first, anyway) thinks of it as harmless “fun” of some sort. Maybe because of his ego, he may just want to see if he can rouse a similar interest in the woman. And to further his ego, he may be hoping that the woman will pursue him in some kind of way so he can really let his ego soar. He likely does not see himself as a sexual predator of some sort, or as being on a par with former sexual predators, such as Bill Clinton, or Bill Cosby, or the sort.
And if it doesn’t exactly work on his first try, he may feel he is determined to make it work, and approach the woman for a second, third or fifth try, maybe amping up the “incentive,” such as suggesting that he could help her with her career (implying that her job might be in his hands); and if that didn’t work, he might just find some way to force himself into her sexual space, the heck with the fact that she wants nothing to do with that.
Some men, of course, use words (rather than actions) to impress their friends or co-workers — we’ve seen some of that not too long ago with one particular powerful man — and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of us were truly hoping that it was just bragging. But even if it is just bragging, if the man is married, isn’t that still a huge insult to his wife? How will she feel when that “bragging” gets back to her?
But back to the reality behind the sexual harassment, from the woman’s point of view. Many women, I am sure, have experienced that sexual pressuring from some man, or many men, over the years, and it is not something that pleases the woman, no matter that you think she is thrilled with your attention. Does a man have any idea of what it would feel like to have some woman make moves on him and say suggestive things about his various body parts and what she would enjoy doing to him, telling him how she “knows” he is just waiting to be alone with her, etc., and then hearing her say that she can help him advance in his job if he’ll just… be friendlier to her… How will that man be feeling? Chances are he’s not at all attracted to her (and even if he were, would never dream of acting on his feelings since she’s married, and maybe he is too, and he has a sense of morality and integrity), so he would really want to get her off his back — but he would also be afraid to make an issue of it, kind of feeling that not only wouldn’t anyone believe him, but maybe she would find a way to hurt him in their job and discredit him with the company he’s been with for so many years.
Some men, of course, move in and take physical liberties and force themselves on the woman (we’ve been there with the Bill Cosby case, for just one, which went way beyond harassment, and left a horrible taste in everyone’s mouth). Other men create circumstances to be alone with the woman, and feel they can then make a case for themselves by saying that she willingly went to his room, or should have known what it looked like to him. Still others will anticipate situations where the woman will show up, and then greet her in their underwear, or even naked, and pull her in. Some will make unwanted telephone calls and hope the woman will stay on long enough to serve his purpose.
None of that is acceptable among normal and decent human beings. I have also personally experienced it and wished I could have educated those men on the spot — not that any of those men would likely have gotten the point.
In any case, that kind of behavior, such as charged against O’Reilly, tends to give many “innocent” men an unearned bad name, not that some women don’t do as much in giving “innocent” women a bad name as well.
Romancing a woman when you truly believe there is a mutual attraction is a whole different story. It’s a wonderful thing! That was, after all, the original plan for men and women. But forcing oneself on another, when the other has made it perfectly clear that such attention is not wanted, deserves the outcry that such behavior receives.
Bill O’Reilly types please be advised!