November 10, 2011

Does Gnu Atheism have another #antifeminism issue?

This time, it may be good old Chris Hitchens, not Richard Dawkins, with foot firmly in mouth, specifically about sexual harassment claims against Herman Cain:
Why does it also not delight me that the extent of the allegations against him, at least on some showings, is “unwanted advances”? It might be argued, by the cynical or the naive, that all “advances” begin that way. True, a period of a matter of months is specified, but don’t I seem to recall, in President Obama’s jaunty account of his courtship, that it took him a certain amount of time to “wear down” his intended target? I dare say that many of us could say the same, while reminiscing among friends, and still hope to avoid getting too many sidelong looks. But in the present circumstances there seems to be a danger of a straight-out politicization of the sexual harassment issue, with many people deciding it in advance on the simple basis of campaign calculations, or—to put it more crudely—of whose ox is being gored. This appears to represent a general coarsening by silence, and yet another crude element in a depressing campaign.
First, Snitchens, "unwanted advances" legally means, in most cases, that an "advancement" (by a man, normally, though women can sexually harass, too) has already been made, and rejected, and now is being repeated at least once. So, your second sentence would be wrong. (Especially now that another woman has mentioned "groping"; we'll see if Snitches edits his column or not. The third sentence, trying to draw a parallel between Cain and Obama, is ridiculous. Especially since, even before the "groping" claim, Cain had multiple accusers and the National Restaurant Association had made multiple settlements.

To claim that this is being politicized when, in the past, many women's groups have had no problem pointing at Democratic as well as Republican sexual harassers, is just a red herring.

The only thing I can agree with is Hitchens' last sentence: This is a depressing campaign.

That said, Hitchens will likely be even less apologetic than Dawkins was over Elevatorgate.

UPDATE, Nov. 10:  48 hours and counting since I read Hitch's column, and about 72 since it was posted, and no additional paragraphs of  "nuance," modification, etc.

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