This morning the news broke about Matt Lauer getting fired from NBC for sexual harassment. Honestly… I didn’t care. Lauer is a mega-media guy who has been paid a billion dollars for sitting down to drink coffee with any number of celebrities and politicians over the past 15 years on the “Today” show. If he was doing crappy things behind the scenes… Then so be it. Fire this guy!
later in the day… Word came over that Garrison Keillor had been fired from Minnesota Public radio for similar offenses.
If you dont know.. And since this blog is for posterity in case I lose my mind later… Recently, Hollywood and Washington DC figured out that sexually harassing women, men and others is a bad thing. So much so that a guy named Weinsten, who owned a big studio in Hollywood was booted from his own company. Since then, the allegations have been showering down from the skies over all kinds of folks.
So back to Garrison. The Keillor thing hit me harder. I liked the “news from lake Wobegon” on Prairie Home Companion. I may not always agree with his slant on politics… But as a radio guy who can appreciate a good yarn… The story telling on the “News” was exceptional. Garrison had created a cast of characters and story-line that only existed in his head. You never met any of these people. You never walked down the streets of Lake Wobegon. You only knew them from his description. Brilliant.
Garrison obviously did something to someone… The allegations have been held private to this point. So, we are now left to believe that all his art is crap? Who knows… and you have to wonder how many years you have to wait before people forgive. The old adage, “Time heals all wounds” will help all of these guys who did “guy things” in their time. Unfortunately, for Garrison… Time is running out.
Now… Dont get me wrong. “Guy things” is not a pass. BUT… Big BUT here… I think that anyone his age probably came about it naturally through learned behavior. He was raised in an era when it was ok that Dad slapped Mom’s ass while she served dinner. That was a norm. Men were natural aggressors in all forms of media. In my mind through the the 80’s at least. That means movies, magazines and music portrayed women as the lesser sex. Men were there to conquer. If you had a Dad that raised you in the 70’s… They probably taught you a version of that. Their teachers were their Dads, men of the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Side-track… Watch music videos from the 80’s… My God… Women were playtoys for any horny dude that could reach far enough to get grip on them!
We have come a long way… So… It begs the question… What is the statute? If a guy did something 30 years ago… And when I say something… I mean something like lurid comments or groping… Is that worth a life sentence? Lauer is reported to have given sex toys as gifts and dropped his pants in-front of female staff members. He never assaulted anyone (as far as I know as I write this). While the climate is hot right now… He is probably not getting a pass anytime soon, but I will bet he is back on a major network within 3 years.
Before today’s news… The recent revelations about other sexual misconduct had me thinking introspectively.
A few weeks ago we talked about this at work. Have I done anything unsavory? Have I used my position of power as a manager of people over the years to demean women? I had to think about my childhood and youth… My first jobs and girlfriends. Did I participate in any of this “obscene” behavior? I mean, have I ever thought it was OK to grab a woman and say obnoxious things in order to let her know that I was available? At first… I’m like “I would never do that”. But, thats your current intelligence speaking for your hormone filled youth. You cant trust that. It may sound like I am trying to soften the blow of something I might have done eons ago that was horrible. But really, I’m just trying to be objective. Can I step back and look over life and remember every stupid thing I have done?
To end the suspense… No. I haven’t done anything like that. I always tried to be nice. Not saying I haven’t been an asshole when dealing with matters of the heart. But I was never forceful or aggressive.
Its kind of a relief when you are doing your mental inventory of guilt.
I can thank my Mom and Dad for most of my moral high ground. Be raised by a single Mom for a good chunk of your childhood. That will teach you a new respect for women. My Grandparents… My immediate Aunts and Uncles… My Step-Dad and all of my extended family. They all treated EVERYONE with respect. I dont remember any sexist or boorish behavior undercurrents in my youth. Racism… Well, that was there and as a kid it was part of the fabric of being locked in Central Illinois. Thats a whole different post.
I have worked with some sexist weirdo’s… The biggest one I can recall was my boss at the Holiday Inn City Centre in Peoria. That guy was all over the front desk clerks and it was obvious that attention in his direction would reward you. I think I am going to tag Becky K in this post on Facebook and see if I am correct in that allegation.
With over 20 years in the car business… I have heard more than my share of crass talk. I am sure my “guy talk” with the techs would have reached inappropriate levels to members of the female sex. Even though 99.9% of the time women are not present, I have no defense. Talking to guys who are in their 20’s can pull you back down to conversations that years of experience have told you are wrong. Its an easy pit to fall into.
Ultimately, at the end of the day… My actions and how I have shown respect to the women I work with should tell a fair story.