I very much frown on the ‘good-ole-boy’ way of treating women in the workplace as it is offensive. Period. There is just no other way to say it. Once again, the nation is talking about this issue as New York Governor Mario Cuomo is needing to respond to the third charge of sexual harassment as it places his political life in turmoil.
The news concerning Cuomo is truly distressing. I come from the point of view that when a woman makes a claim of misconduct by a man, we should trust her statement. But I also know that any time there is a ‘she said, he said’ type of case it is very hard in a legal sense to prove. I am not a lawyer so cannot weigh into the definition of what constitutes sexual harassment. That does not mean, however, the comments by Cuomo did not happen, but the bar of justice is set at a degree to make sure fair outcomes can be most times attained.
What is so continually frustrating is that once again it appears that a man who reaches a level of power somehow believes he becomes entitled to make moves on women and treat them as nothing more than sex objects. And once again, it is so unbecoming to hear of a statement from the offender about being ‘misunderstood’.
This matter is far more than just one about a Democratic politician as this type of bad behavior happens in a wide array of professions. In each case, however, the bottom line is the same. Powerful men seem to think they should be able to act as they wish. And not be held accountable.
As a gay man, it has made me more sympathetic to the way women might feel in the workplace with out-of-bound comments. There were times the social dynamics that were brought into the workplace concerning women were unsettling for me to witness. I was more aware of the banter in the workplace given my own desire to not be the recipient of odd comments about my personal life. Since words, both in radio broadcasting and in my other positions, have always been central to what I do hearing how they were used was something I naturally tuned into.
The larger national conversation about Cuomo as it relates to how women are treated is one we need to continue having in our society. But we need to be consistent in how we view this matter. When it comes to other public cases of this type of harassment, we are left to ask why some politicians who have clearly harassed women get a free pass? How can conservatives pile onto Cuomo when there is an audio recording of Donald Trump talking about how he groped women and they viewed it as acceptable? How can conservatives lick their chops at the news from New York when they championed a president who used hush-money payments to a porn star while cheating on his third wife?
My bottom line on the matter is that sexual harassment is a most serious offense, and in politics it can be even more troubling. What makes it even more problematic is that the tone-deaf defense from Cuomo with his trite comments makes him appear more out of touch than anyone should be in 2021.