Saturday, November 11, 2017

Women and Children First, Guys


He said, he said: George Takei and Scott Brunton

My general feeling about all of these allegations of sexual harassment/assault is that if someone says they felt victimized, then they were victimized. (False accusations notwithstanding, obviously.)

I guess where I'm getting a little thrown off lies with some of the accounts where the accuser seems to have been talked into feeling victimized.

When I lived in L.A. a bar friend of mine (John) offered to help me look for a new apartment in West Hollywood. After driving around all day, we went back to his place on Doheny to call a few more listings. (This was 1991.) While I was on the phone with one of the landlords, I turned around to find John with his pants down, stroking his erect penis. I was not interested in John that way, so I proceeded to turn the other way to finish the call and pretended like it never happened. And that was that. Is there something wrong with me because I'm not traumatized by this? I had never given John any indication whatsoever that I was interested in him sexually, yet he exposed himself to me out of nowhere. Shouldn't I have had PTSD for six months afterward like the guy Kevin Spacey groped in a bar in L.A.? I didn't. I just brushed it off and went about my apartment hunt. The way I saw it, we were both single grown men and he gave it a shot and failed. (And who could blame him? 🙂) I have literally a dozen other similar stories -- letting a friend I wasn't into crash after a night of drinking and having him sniff around my crotch in the middle of the night, etc. -- and I'm guessing all of you do, too. But none of them made me feel like a victim.

Now if you read Harry Dreyfuss's account of what happened with Kevin Spacey, he also admits it never really bothered him, and that he spent the past however-many years using it as a fun party story. But after the Harvey Weinstein revelations -- and maybe the revelations about his own dad(!) -- he realized he was a victim and should be upset. Is this a good thing?

The sister of someone very close to me attempted suicide years ago when she recovered memories of having been molested by her stepfather. She called my loved one (her younger sister) to tell her what was going on and asked if she too had been molested. My loved one said that she has vague memories of some odd things as a child, but that she doesn't remember being molested and that even if she had been, it would have happened several decades ago, wasn't happening now and that it wasn't an issue for her. Her sister actually seemed annoyed that she had this take, almost disappointed that she wasn't eager to jump on the victim train with her. Is this a good thing?

I always thought queer people who were against marriage equality because it made us too "mainstream" were shortsighted (and kinda dumb). But I do worry that adopting heteronormative views on sex is a road we don't want to go down. For me, the best part of being a gay man -- and what helped offset the downside of homophobia and a shitty school experience -- is that we play by our own rules when it comes to sex. And let's be honest: if straight people knew the full truth about most gay men's sexual pasts --- the number of partners, the bathhouses, the backrooms, the bookstores, the sex clubs, the apps, etc. -- most would be mortified (and many of the men would be jealous!).

All of this is to say that while I do not condone any forms of abuse, I hope we as men can keep things in perspective. I hope we are able separate what women go through -- the risk of rape, pregnancy and physical assault (and too often death) -- with the shenanigans of garden-variety gay men, which almost never rise to the same level of threat. As heinous as they can sometimes be -- if George Takei did what he's alleged to have it's obviously wrong -- to me they're kind of like the price of doing business in this special club we call the gay brotherhood.

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UPDATE: And this is what I was warning against ...


Are we really going to be calling out MEAN GIRLS during a conversation where countless women have alleged they were RAPED and THREATENED by Hollywood moguls? Try picking up the phone.

13 comments:

James Greenlee said...

Agreed 100%, but it's difficult to express in a written forum without sounding dismissive. Right? It's even weird re-reading the words sometimes.

Michael Diamond said...

right there with you buddy!

Edgar_Carpenter said...

I agree completely. It's the culture of shame and victimhood that's causing the trauma in most of these events, not the incident itself.

I've never felt that someone elses' inappropriate behavior was my fault or that it reflected on me - so it's never been traumatic when men acted badly.

I'm not talking about getting physically beaten or fucked at knife-point here, that would definitely have been traumatic. But a lot of stuff that would currently ruin a famous person's career has been done to me, and it's all just unimportant. It's the stuff of anecdotes, not nightmares.

What has been traumatic is reading that preachers are calling for my death from the pulpit. What has been traumatic is seeing friends entrapped by cops and put through an unjust justice system. What has been traumatic has been being fired from jobs for being gay. Now those are real traumas.

jaragon said...

"What has been traumatic is reading that preachers are calling for my death from the pulpit. What has been traumatic is seeing friends entrapped by cops and put through an unjust justice system. What has been traumatic has been being fired from jobs for being gay. Now those are real traumas. "
"
Well said!

Izzo said...

Well said Kenneth....

Sam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joel c said...

With the gay culture that is a fine line between the sexual rules (bathhouse, cruising...etc) and sexual harassment & assault. On 4 different occasions things got very uncomfortable for me while working in a gay bar. I felt rather humiliated having one guy come up being me in the DJ booth and shove his hand down the front of my pants to grope me, on a different occasion have a guy undo my pants again while in the DJ booth because he wanted to give me a blow job, plus the bar's co-owner breathing down my neck while grinding my ass and the drag queen grabbing my ass saying "I want a piece of that". At the time I tried to brush it off as it being part of the "gay way" or even drunken behavior, but nothing I could think of would justify that. DJing was a job I loved but due to the climate I just couldn't work at that bar anymore. At the same time I had several other things happen in my life that I used to justify leaving the DJ job. Some of the other things that happened in life also caused me to bury these thoughts for over 10 years. These memories that have suddenly emerged feel very vivid and real again at times like they just happened. Maybe it's because I didn't deal with the issues at the time but when you have other things happen like a parent dying and then finding out one's partner was into teenage boys, one's comfort level of behaviors at the bar seem trite.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Joel C: I’m sorry to hear you went through all of that. Thanks for sharing.

Dwight Williamson said...

I believe that we are not seeking to be heteronormative. Out gay men have always played fast and loose. The point is the need to be out gay men. Why are they just attacking the famous.? If I were attracted to them none of the behaviors at Joel c’s place of employment would have been offputting. A gay bar is a gay bar. I also wonder where are all the fists and fingernails that could have been used on these attackers.
I have more difficulty that this conversation is so life and death now, when we elected a molester in chief a year ago. I am dumbfounded at when and where America chooses to have a conversation. The conversation now should be about “ resist and impeach” followed by restore.

Joe said...

The victim is the only one who has say over how it has affected them. If you don't feel victimized by something and are able to sluff it off, then so be it. If someone does feel victimized, does have a legitimate visceral reaction to something, whether it be in the moment, or years later, that's valid and should be honored.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Joe: I agree, which is what I wrote in the first paragraph, please. I’m referring to talking people into “realizing” they were victims when they never thought they were. And with this, convicting people — specifically frisky gay men — that things they once were OK with are suddenly beyond the pale.

Power Bottom said...

I wonder if the difference between what you said, Kenneth, and what some of these stories are about is the power differential? Your friend in that car wasn't your boss, or a potential boss who could help your career (or end it if you rejected him) or a bigwig in your industry who could slander you to his industry friends and blacklist you. From what I can tell there wasn't even a physical power difference (unless he was a lot bigger than you). I wonder if there's something about this power difference that sets the experience in your head differently. Now you wonder, is this what you have to do to be successful? Did I just blow it? Will he not hire me and convince his friends not to hire me? Is this what I'm up against just to find jobs in my industry? If so, should I just drop out and try to do something else? Did I do something that made him think it was ok to treat me this way? If so, does that mean other guys will treat me this way, too? If I tell someone will I just come off as

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@PowerBottom: Yes, you're definitely right about the power situation. But in the case of George Takei, he was a complete nobody in 1981 so it really doesn't seem to be the issue there. And with Kevin Spacey groping people in bars, I thought it was just a general irritation that he'd done that -- but something anyone could do to you in a bar.

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