Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Sexuality and power

Herman Cain is so good at doing things to rile up a person that it makes it easy to forget there are others running for the Republican presidential nomination in the United States. I mean come on if anybody but him had not known China has had the nuclear bomb since the early 60s, that would have been the end of their campaign. Somehow though his fans give him a pass and maybe they will now on sexual harassment.

Pretty much the last thing I wanted to do this week was to watch either Sharon Bialek or Herman Cain discuss these harassment issues. It's plain icky, but I felt I should because it seemed important not just because of how it might mean Cain sees women but also how he sees power. In the beginning you tend to think such things are about sex. They aren't. They are about power and watching these two people showed that very clearly-- especially his press conference. (I have to look up the definition of megalomaniac as the word came to mind a lot while watching Cain. He strikes me as the kind of person that could lie and fool a lie detector because it's all about him).

But let's start with her. Sharon Bialek accused him not actually of sexual harassment. What she described was an assault; but hey it's just a technicality, right? Rush Limbaugh immediately jumped on her being a babe but implied she was coming forth now for money. If she hadn't been a beauty, he'd have demeaned her looks. As for her getting money from this, she didn't get any but that's another minor technicality. Someone like Rush probably doesn't get it that a woman like her is exactly who men like Cain would hit upon.

Beautiful √
Sexy looking √
Out of work or economically vulnerable √
No power base or strong family behind her √

Every accusation against her (Cain called her a troubled woman which is interesting since he also claimed he didn't know her ever) has only emphasized she would be a prime target and gives excellent examples as to why so many women fear speaking out.

Bottom-line, neither she or Gloria Allred have profited from speaking out; and with all the difficulty that goes with it when it's a powerful man, it's amazing any women ever speak out. I think about what Paula Jones went through when it was Governor Bill Clinton (which I am sure Republicans thought should be prosecuted). The right tends to imply Allred only does this when it's Republicans. No, she's been the voice for vulnerable women hit upon by powerful men and that has included plenty of Democrats.

Bialek didn't come forward years ago because that kind of thing happens to women, and they don't press charges. In my life, I've had such things happen. I sure never asked for it. Women don't go to the law over it unless the inappropriate touch is repeated or more is forced. Bialek said Cain put out the physical gestures, and when she said no, he backed off; but not before making it clear a job might be in the offering if she was 'responsive'.

Clearly Cain can't admit he did this or any of the other inappropriate actions that are coming out. His run for the presidency would be over as would his future big bucks on Fox News. He has to lie and he will. The problem I see is the people who will support him in the lies, who will give him the words to say, who will donate money to his campaign showing they not only don't mind but maybe like him better for what he's done.

That's why it keeps happening because there is no price to pay, and some act as though it's not a big deal. Tell that to women. It's not on a level with rape, but it's an ugly memory that women don't forget-- even if it's not a big deal to the perpetrator to the point he can forget about it. Women don't.

The hits on this woman by the vicious right are just beginning with Cain at the top of the list with what he's put out. What Cain has claimed is exactly what you'd expect from a powerful man who has no conscience, who doesn't really believe the spiritual words he espouses. He says his wife said she doesn't believe it because he hasn't done that around her. What a surprise.

So here comes Cain out to angrily justify himself as he stands there totally sure of himself, claiming he's running for president as a successful businessman which is why somebody is out to get him. Excuse me but first of all, he's been a successful lobbyist. He did run Godfather Pizza, making it successful by closing restaurants and firing employees (shades of Romney) but come on, this is a pizza chain most of us haven't ever even sampled. His work as CEO of the restaurant association was a lobbyist firm based in DC (a contract he left 6 months early).

Since then he's done work for Americans for Prosperity funded by the Koch Brothers [Herman Cain] given speeches, had a radio program as well as worked as a public speaker. His connection to the Koch brothers did not begin this year, and they are major funders of his campaign according to all I have read.

What he has done about his wife, who he brought up in this news conference, is keep her away from his business world, keep that little lady at home; and the man can do what he wants out in the big bad world.This is clearly a pattern of behavior. [Fifth woman comes forward]

When there is a culture out there that encourages men like Cain, that makes women (and boys frankly) fearful of speaking up because of threats which included death threats, from fervent followers against someone like Anita Hill, it's not hard to understand how this kind of thing happens. Anybody who excuses it (and that includes that toad Limbaugh) is part of the culture, and they should think long and hard about what they are doing as it can also happen to women they love.

No, I cannot know for sure that these women are telling the truth. It is he said/she said. But there is a pattern of behavior being illustrated (and observed by others) with a man apparently oblivious to the rules others follow. He has nothing to lose by continuing to deny it all-- unless he has a conscience of which I have seen no evidence on anything else.

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