The Shame of the MeToo Men

I feel bad for them. Do they feel bad for women?

Comments: 258

  1. It seems to me that the majority of men find comfort in laying responsibility on others for their misdeeds. Women tend to take too much responsibility for what goes wrong. So it's a perfect balance. I don't feel sorry for these men. It's no one's fault but their own and they should suffer the consequences, and, as indicated, they do eventually return to the workplace. I'm playing a very tiny violin.

  2. I watched that Bill Maher episode and was grateful that you interrupted. I am a pastor and my religious tradition (like many) holds repentance and reconciliation as core values and practices. Yet, in my experience, we as humans would rather be excused than to be forgiven, since forgiveness involves the difficult process of wrestling with our guilt and the consequences of our actions.

  3. @Eric Williams As a pastor, do you teach people not to be rude? It's well-known that guests shouldn't interrupt Maher's "last word" segment; other guests have been reprimanded. However, Goldberg, the consummate entitled millennial, felt the necessity of interjecting and interrupting him. It's not gender; it's about good manners.

  4. This comment conveys a touching sentiment but, like so many others, makes the mistake of elevating a view of morality based in religion—specifically, Christianity. Perhaps one reason the #MeToo movement seems always ‘too little, too late,” is simply because there is no non-human, transcendent Justice waiting out there. We wring our hands, wondering why criminals have not yet been punished—as if societal norms proceed from on high, and are realized without human activity.

  5. Thank you, Michelle, for reminding us of this basic moral truth.

    We live in an era where confession and restitution are considered old-fashioned and unnecessary. But, from one toddler bullying another to one race enslaving or colonizing generations of another race or ethnicity, there is no healing without both. All the half measures and omissions fall short and perpetuate mass disorders, affecting future generations on both sides.

    If you can't think of appropriate remedies, there are experts who can, thinkers in history, psychology, religion, law, economics, etc. Reparations have been offered in some scenarios. That would be a start. Hard to structure fairly, but a start and a powerful symbol.

    Let the victims gather and propose compensation for career-ending sexism. Men and corporations who have profited at their expense can afford to fund the plan. The descendants of enslaved African-Americans have proposed various approaches.

    All the denials from white men who have abused their privilege are not going to change the impact. A structured program of truth, reconciliation, and reparations is what we need.

  6. I watched the Real Time episode too. And I think what happened there illuminates the MeToo movement. Although you interrupted during a segment that’s supposed to be Bill’s shtick, the way he chastised you was dismissive and somewhat demeaning. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have done so in the same way if it was one of the male guests that interrupted. I think his response reflects men’s overall impatience and frustration with the our legit complaints about being sidelined and/or harassed. Even Bill, an egalitarian I assume he’d say, has a hard time doing the actual work of treating women as equals.

  7. @Jessica Hunter

    I disagree. I have seen Bill speak peremptorily to men many times.

  8. @Jessica Hunter

    You obviously don't watch the show regularly. If it was any other guest, especially a male, who had interrupted, he would have responded much more harshly (and has). Bill has told male guests quite simply to "shut up" -- he was quite reserved with Michelle and simply pointed out that she was screwing up the segment by insisting on inserting herself into a rehearsed bit that did not involve her.

    Michelle has been on his show more than once and understands the format. She had half an hour to freely spout her opinions before the ending "New Rules" segment, which is prepared all week by Bill and his writing team and is the audience's favorite part of the show. Interrupting the flow and ruining the joke is literally the most offensive thing you can do to a comedian.

    Considering that Michelle Goldberg is at least partially culpable for the media outrage that caused Al Franken's resignation -- she wrote a column titled "Franken Should Go" -- Maher was remarkably kind in avoiding mention of that in the segment Michelle interrupted. Methinks that Michelle's reaction may have more than a little to do with her own shame at contributing to the outrage mob that caused Franken's downfall.

  9. @Jessica Hunter, ever since Maher referred to Sophia Loren as an “old bag,” it’s been clear he hates women.

  10. For pigs like Weinstein and Moonves, who abused their power over little people, the evidence is overwhelming, and what they did, given their position of control over their victims, is disgusting.

    But for others, they have been denied their most fundamental human right in a society....due process before they are punished. Due process can be best simplified as fairness, and an opportunity to explain or deny the facts in an impartial tribunal or hearing.

    The case of Al Franken probably represents the most public case of witch hunting. Franken's alleged offenses occurred as a comedian, often on road tours to war zones, where the entire party is involved in hi jinks of some sort. There is no indication that he used power or position to leverage his unwanted attentions on anyone. It was jokes. Maybe bad taste jokes by today's standards, but understandable for the time and situation.

    I will never vote for Kirsten Gillebrand for anything. She must have been absent the day due process was taught. And my own increasingly doddering Senator, Leahy, is a fool. He initially jumped on the "Franken must resign" bandwagon, until Franken announced that he would in fact resign. Leahy then reversed field, and pleaded with Franken to NOT resign. Unfortunately, Leahy, age 80, was just re-elected in 2016, so we have at least four more years of this "leadership", and if the Dems get a Senate majority, his seniority will put him in charge of something important. He should resign.

  11. @RM

    I voted for kamala harris & I will never again vote for her for any public office. She aided in the railroading of a decent guy & great Senator.

  12. @RM Weinstein and Moonves are not pigs, you are wrong. They are people with families and the people they interact with are people with families and we are all trying to survive and find a way to get what we want. At those levels of power and wealth there are concerns and realms that goewith that most of us could not imagine. We might all fail if we were in those people's shoes. But people gleefully position themselves as superior to Weinstein and Moonves and other as if they have or would have none of their failings or weaknesses or faults. Anyone who looks down on those men or others are the people I most distrust. They just don't have any depth of understanding of humanity or what it is like to be human or a person.

  13. @RM
    We would all be better off if half the 44 Senators who are 65 and older would simply retire when their terms are over.

  14. Thank you for a wonderful opinion essay. You have become one of my favorite contributors.
    In my opinion, how a society treats women is an excellent indicator on how it will treat children and the elderly.

  15. It would be nice if one of these guys would organize a truth and reconciliation commission. You can’t get back what you lost in this case but you can resolve to do better across the society. Unfortunately, at a time when men should be reaching out, they’re engaging in too typical behavior and holing up in their caves.

  16. I agree with the much of what you're saying, but you're still positioning yourself as a thumbs up or down judge of these men's thoughts and hearts, which does seem Maoist. That's one of the problems with using the media as a court of law. Another is that part of what all the men we talk about are being punished for is being famous or powerful, while the store manager next door harasses with impunity.

    Women are the victims, but I also think that there are things that women & men both need to think about. One is that flirting and respectful sexual advance and appropriate joking are never going to have the black & white clarity of a legal contract, and I don't think we would want them to (obviously I'm not talking about men demanding sex in exchange for something, but about humiliating / clumsy behavior like Franken's or Clarence Thomas's). The legacy of sexist norms leaves us with men who use their economic power to substitute for sexual power AND women who use sexual power to compensate for economic impotence. But even with perfect legal and economic equality, sex is still going to mean something very different for men and women, and the experience of negotiating those differences will sometimes involve hurt and humiliation. If women and men felt equally powerful and equally vulnerable in the economic realm, it would go a long way toward putting those experiences in appropriate context.

  17. @Martin
    Michelle is a self-admitted Jacobin; different from a Maoist.

  18. @Martin. Sexual molestation, rape, and harassment are not about sex. They are a means to power over others. This is well known.

  19. @Martin

    "but about humiliating / clumsy behavior like Franken's or Clarence Thomas's)"
    - the case in point re: Thomas. His actions did more than humiliate. They were more than clumsy. They made the work place a - living hell - for Ms Hill and the trial and its aftermath seriously affected her professional career. It was ongoing torture for her at work while it was occurring and he was her supervisor, so what recourse was there in that day? What about her emotional toll?

    How familiar are you with the details of that case? Can you imagine how she felt as she went before the senate to detail how, for example, he put pubic hairs on her soda can? The Senate was full of men, many of who at that time still saw women in the legal field as an anomaly. The conservatives saw her as their "enemy." The only concern they had was political expediency.

    You can't paint Franken and Thomas with the same brush. The level of harassment was on an entirely different scale.

    Thomas' accuser was not believed by many. And where is he today?

    Franken admitted his behavior and apologized, suffering the consequences.

    This should be part of your - "toward putting those experiences in appropriate context."

  20. I'm troubled by the lack of compassion of many accused, but also by the lack of compassion for them as well. Having the sudden end of life as one's known it, whether deserved or not, generally causes significant PTSD. One can argue about whether their pain is worse or more "deserving" than that of the people who feel they have been injured by them, but pain is pain. Confusion is confusion. Not being sure what you did, whether you misread signals, what is going on, are all very real and likely experienced by many of these men. Many of whom have tried their whole lives to be truly good persons. Very dificult to do what the Catholics call an "examination of conscience" when one feels like one is falling apart, however morally important it may be. The phrase (which I saw first in Chris Hayes' book "Colony in a Nation"), "hurt people hurt people" probably applies to just about everyone involved in these situations. Including a lot of #metoo writers, and columnists.

  21. No. These peoples lives fell into shambles because of their *actions*. If they hadn’t been entitled misogynistic predators they’d still have their lives. They made their choices and those choices finally have some consequences.

  22. @Dr G., these guys “ended” a lot of lives, wrecking careers of women who were just trying to work/exist. Where’s your sympathy for the real victims?

  23. I am someone who is often guilty of saying unthoughtful thing simply because I say things before I think - that is the "unthoughtful" part I guess. I recognize this as a personal character flaw. Even so, I am constantly amazed at how people in the public eye behave even worse than me in that regard despite the fact that being in the public eye is really part of their job. I'm not sure what is worse, McDonald's comment on the #MeToo movement or his comment about people with Down's Syndrome.

  24. There is a level of narcissism here on the part of men who have sexually harassed or assaulted women. Such offenders are not concerned about the women they have harmed, but for themselves. The question we must ask ourselves is why so many are drawn to protect men who have abused others. Why do such men continue to elicit such feelings of compassion and empathy, while the women they have harmed are at best ignored, and at worst discredited and ostracized. We are uncomfortable with victims and it is easier to deny their pain.

  25. @Lisa You hit the nail on the head: they are Narcissists, unwilling or unable to feel Empathy for what these women went through, or at least claimed they went through. The gradations of truth in their stories isn't the point [doubtful many are flat out lying]. The point is that these men must, and yet fail to, consider the impact of their actions from the Women's point of view. Empathy: that's all Michelle Goldberg is asking for, ['what are these women feeling? how has this affected them?] and what she argues is missing in virtually every #MeToo man's reactions and remarks.

  26. @Lisa—agreed. Hockenberry’s article is all about him, his career, his feeeeelllinngs, his kids, his “mistaken romantic ideals”. (Ugh.) To these men, everything is a prop in the glorious unfolding of their oh-so-important lives. Nobody else matters to them, so they are incapable of seeing what they’ve done—or taking responsibilty.

  27. AH, think we were all waiting for Michelle to respond to Bill. It's a good beginning to talk about forgiveness but this seems to me another glossed over attempt to say "we want to forgive, but we really never will". What Goldberg missed about Bill's monologue is he said he believed Al's denials. That is not a popular view anymore as it seems the concept of innocent till proven guilty is not helpful to the Me too movement. Michelle seems unable to comprehend that SOME women may lie, or at least stretch the truth to further their cause. This happens all the time in NY Family court or any court. People like Bill were saying "hey media, hey Me too stop telling me what I can conclude on what happened". He's entitled to believe AL and that is something that Me too movement and Goldberg clearly disdain. Any push back is "victim shaming". I don't want to live in a world where an accusation is my death.

  28. @Jane. Why put the onus for offering forgiveness on women who were assaulted sexually? The whole point of this piece is that men who are culpable don't seem remotely curious about the effect of their actions. Why don't you put the onus on the guilty to seek forgiveness?

    As for women lying and stretching the truth "all the time", decades of crime statistics show that sexual assault complaints are discovered to be false at the same rate as other violent crimes - about 3% of the time.

  29. @Jane I don't think the Me Too movement has done away with the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Harvey Weinstein's accusers dealt with the issue through legal intermediaries. Same is true for many of the other women involved in Me Too - Rachel Denhollander, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney. Al Franken had multiple accusers I believe; if Bill Maher wants to believe him, that's fine, but don't ask the rest of us to accept his word over that of multiple others.
    I agree with Roxane Gay - anyone accused of sexual misconduct should try to make reparations to the individuals affected before they re-enter public life. Louis CK should have a) offered to pay compensation for lost wages and psychiatric treatment to the women to whom he indecently exposed himself and b) included the words "I am sorry" in the public text of his apology.

  30. @Jane
    I don't think "lying" or "stretching the truth" is as much a worry as the fact that our memories can change radically over time, especially if it suits other purposes..The more time passes the greater the danger. Anyone who has studied psychology knows this.

  31. It's possible that what happened to Al Franzen was political railroading compounded by a few misunderstandings out of thousands of quick encounters. That's why that situation is different.

  32. @NGS

    Who has room for nuance when they're out here grabbing pitchforks?

  33. @NGS I really loved Al Franken's comedy and his work as a senator. AND, the photos speak for themselves. When I saw them, I was shocked and felt shame on his behalf. The story they told was of someone who was too ignorant and/or arrogant to appreciate the humanity of a woman who was also a colleague. Her body was turned into a joke for his and his friends' amusement. Why is the professional and emotional well-being (or simple entertainment) of so many people (mostly men) contingent on compromising the emotional and physical well-being of women? Why does emotional, economic and physical suffering of women get so easily brushed off and the emotional and financial suffering of men hold so much value? This bias plays out in different ways depending on one's politics, but it cuts deeply through all political orientations.

  34. @NGS, nope. Frankin had a pattern of humiliating women, which is what nailed him.

  35. I have little sympathy for the guilty, but I do have concerns related to this.

    Careers are being destroyed with no legal conviction. Maybe they are guilty, they seem guilty, I think they are guilty, but do I know? Was it proven 'beyond a shadow of a doubt'?

    No one protesting their innocence has really held up, I don't think it's happened... yet. But I can't be certain and neither can anyone reading this. I think it's a matter of time before innocent people, men and women, have their lives destroyed on accusation alone.

    These are very emotional charges, and the guilty need to be punished, but we have a legal system for a reason. Accusations of events decades past with no evidence, is now enough to get executives fired in disgrace, actors removed from movies with scenes reshot, etc.

    There is no trial, no judge, no jury. An accusation is made, public decides guilt, and if public renders a guilty verdict, any punishment short of execution seems fair.

    Now, to be clear, I believe Kevin Spacey et al to be guilty. But it's that I don't know for certain that bothers me.

    And more troublesome is how few people are bothered by this. Innocent until proven guilty used to mean something here, but these have become public lynchings.

    Pardon the vivid imagery, and I do not mean to conjure sympathy for people that are probably guilty.

    But we need to pause and consider the harm we are doing to people on accusation alone, with no trial.

    This will end up some place dark if we don't.

  36. @Dave Another knee jerk defensive response. The truth is that it is very, very, very difficult, and often impossible to bring charges and adjudicate sexual harassment claims. The fifth circuit court, for one institution, made sure of that. It is considerably easier and available to men to adjudicate claims of slander and defamation, which the accused are easily able to do, but they don't when the evidence against them is so overwhelmingly strong. In addition, the institutions of power, and work place cultures protect men as a rule, even when there is evidence and knowledge of wrong doing.

    Your response is so cliche. If there were more sympathy for how harassment harms the victims, there would be fewer accusations, I believe. As many commenters have noted, the narcissism of the men, and those who defend them--as you basically have--is what causes the accused the most grief. They need to take a good hard look at themselves.

  37. @Dave Wow--you start off so "even-handed" and end up with the position that the "real" danger is not the extremely pervasive degradation & humiliation of millions of women but the (by your own admission) hypothetical and tiny number of men who are falsely accused. E.g. "This will end up some place dark...".

    A few points.

    First, "this" started (started!) "someplace dark"--that is the essential point that you don't seem to recognize at all--the suffocating burden of patriarchal relations that effect all women.

    Second, MG is not even discussing the legal punishment of people accused of very serious crimes, she is discussing how do we get people who in a real sense are "decent folk" but have done oppressive things to actually come to grips with, and acknowledge, the harm that they have done. This is in the realm of "restorative justice," not prosecution, much less persecution.

    Third, fyi, the legal standard of guilt in the US is "beyond reasonable doubt", not "shadow of doubt." Shadow of doubt is a standard that virtually can never be met, particularly in sexual offenses.

    Fourth, to compare the difficulties of men who've been called out by #MeToo to "public lynchings" betrays both an obscene disrespect for the 10s of 1000's of (mainly) Black and Brown people who were actually hunted down, tortured and lynched, and, once again, a wildly disproportionate understanding of what is the problem that society is confronting here.

  38. @Dave I just want to amend my earlier reply with this--I said that the legal standard of guilt in the US is "beyond a reasonable doubt," not "beyond the shadow of a doubt." But I should have modified that by saying "the official legal standard of guilt"--because in reality the vast majority of poor, Black and Brown people who come through the criminal justice system are presumed guilty from the start, both by the courts and the media, and over 90% (this is true) never get a trial at all.

    The standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt" is generally applied to wealthy and powerful white men accused of crimes against women and fronted by top level attorneys generally--if such people ever end up in court, which mostly they do not.

  39. I wish Neil Macdonald, Norm's mature brother who is a correspondent for Canada's CBC News, would have a heart-to-heart talk with him and force him to make amends to the women he harassed. Watching and reading Neil's reports, it's hard to believe they're brothers.

  40. It seems to me that all too often we forget that each action we take has consequences for us and others. The fact that the world we have built around us is enormously unfair to so many, and many get away with behaviors covering the full range between slight offenses and horrible crimes, does not negate that. Sometimes, it comes back and bites you (finally, deservedly) where it hurts. The average rascal, who has been getting away with whatever they were doing, feels then that the world is collapsing around them, but they too will survive as others had to do with huge burdens laid upon them. In this, Ms Goldberg is right: shame is a strong force. But what are we usually ashamed of? Not of what we did, but that others found out.
    Apologies, even the believable ones that are not followed by excuses, are not worth much without trying to make amends in a solid, quantifiable way. It is our future actions that will speak loads about having understood and regretted we caused harm, even if we cannot make things right for the actual persons we injured. And nobody should demand that the injured parties give their forgiveness readily; perhaps they are not there yet and perhaps they will never be.
    Long story short, I don't feel bad for any of those people. They never used one minute to reflect on the consequences of their actions, which in so many cases were repeat offenses. I might start sympathizing and change my current opinion when I see that they have consciously changed their ways.

  41. What's the problem with the reasoning presented here? Almost everything. Goldberg may be fundamentally better than these men, but it's beside the point. From the outset this process should have been about justice, not forgiveness. It's understandable that victims often cannot forgive those who wrong them, but that can never be society's standard for determining culpability or punishment. No one accused of wrongdoing proposes the restitution they must make; that's the job of the judicial system. As the judicial system was deliberately bypassed, this never happened. Now it boils down to someone trying to figure out what can possibly satisfy a mob's idea of restitution. Once they're unable to do so, if they seek absolution, it means they're truly irredeemable. The cases of John Hockenberry and Al Frankin have been dealt with, and are still being dealt with, solely as an exercise in public outrage. This means no level of culpability using legal standards was ever established, no legally recognized punishment determined, and no time frame for it set. Courts of law exist specifically to redress both unacceptable behavior and the worst sort of criminal behavior. They make assessments of culpability and impose punishments within specified parameters and commensurate with the offense committed. Everything written here establishes why this movement has floundered, and why it's increasingly problematic to those of us who are criminal and civil rights attorneys, as opposed to pundits.

  42. @Robert B
    Very well put, thank you. Cases of clear criminality aside, the only interpersonal relationships between people that are not ambiguous are ones we hear about second hand, and that we want to use as an example. I have a strong suspicion that a lot of this "debate" (for the public, not for the men and women actually involved) is a proxy venting for other frustrations. For the fact that a boastful misogynist is president, for economic inequality between men & women (and between the public figures we're discussing and the rest of us), and for the fact that so much of the entertainment industry is based on sexual exploitation.

  43. @Robert B. Well stated.

  44. @Robert B
    It is very, very, very difficult, and often impossible to bring charges and adjudicate sexual harassment claims. It is considerably easier and available to men to adjudicate claims of slander and defamation, which the accused are easily able to do, but they don't when the evidence against them is so overwhelmingly strong. In addition, the institutions of power, and work place cultures protect men as a rule, even when there is evidence and knowledge of wrong doing.

    Your response is so cliche. If there were more sympathy for how harassment harms the victims, there would be fewer accusations, I believe. As many commenters have noted, the narcissism of the men, and those who defend them--as you basically have--is what causes the accused the most grief. They need to take a good hard look at themselves.

  45. It's an interesting question you pose. I personally feel compassion for women who have been mistreated and am pleased to see this is getting the focus it deserves. I'm not sure where the country is on this in view of the fact that 63 million people (many of them women) voted for Trump - after the access Hollywood tape was out and numerous articles about his feelings about women were discussed in appearances with Howard Stern. I suppose Stormy Daniels and others of her profession don't need to be counted as this is how they make their living. In any event my hope is that women continue to expose these instances of behavior and maybe one day more will understand this movement.

  46. What we need is a path to reacceptance and public forgiveness for the men that doesn't trash the victims who outed them. I watched the segment on Bill Maher that Michelle mentions and as much as I like Maher and Al Franken, the way out of this is humility from those who've offended and humility from those who have been offended. Humility doesn't mean groveling - but it does mean that even good guys like Franken acknowledge that at the very least they misread cues and don't understand how even unwanted groping can be really disturbing. Hey- even men don't like unwanted touching. On the other end, let's have some proportionality( the word that got Matt Damon into trouble) and some recognition of the biblical proposition -let he (or she) who is without sin cast the first stone. Some- as Michelle says- are beyond the pale- but many are not.

  47. @Rmark6

    I think we do have proportionality. The problem with Matt Damon's remarks was that it sounded like he wanted a pass for behavior that didn't rise to the level of a crime.

    What sort of punishment - short of pubic shaming - would work? Why is it so difficult for some men to treat women decently?

  48. @Rmark6
    Indeed, men don't like unwanted touching! Is there a lesson in this recent exchange between Marko Rubio and Alex Jones?
    "Hey, don't touch me again, man," Rubio said. "I'm asking you not to touch me."
    "Well, I just patted you nicely," Jones said.
    "Well, I don't want to be touched.

  49. @Rmark6: Franken DID apologize and asked for an ethics investigation as well.

  50. “schmoes whose gross behavior was tacitly accepted by those around them.”

    Perfect summation. Such behavior was/is not only accepted but protected by Human Resources departments. Bearing in mind that sexual harassment occurs at the workplace, the existence of HR departments has been a major reason why victims have been reluctant to come forward.

    When was the last time a HR department called the police? Something, hopefully, that their staffers would do if these incidents occurred outside of their companies.

  51. @Mike Edwards. HR exists to protect the company from the employees. Any HR person who called the police for any reason not related to protecting the company would be fired.

  52. Men who perpetrate harassment need ask only one question: how am I going to make amends? Not only to their targets, but to others such as their wives, girlfriends and children.

    Meantime there are plenty of equally or exceedingly talented women who can take their place.

    So a good starting place is for them would be to earn their living at a job paying 60% of what a man makes. Perhaps the only way they can develop empathy is to live the experience of being under the thumb of the power structure they were helping to cement by humiliating women.

    BTW, it is 100% sure that any woman who came out publicly is far from the only victim of any one of these perpetrators. It is well known that abusers follow life-long repetitions of behavior.

  53. @Terro O’Brien

    It is 100% sure...

    As Maher put it, females lost the ability to lie in 2017???

  54. What a tactful way of describing your appearance on Bill Maher (who I usually watch and enjoy). Like Maher, I too wish Al Franken were would reenter politics. However, he cannot do so by minimizing culpability for his actions. Only by acknowledging and attempting to understand how his behavior contributes to this corrosive culture can he be redeemed politically. I was dismayed to see Maher trivialize the allegations against him and was glad that you pointed out that he was being factually inaccurate. I was taken aback by Maher's rude response to you. Apparently he doesn't want facts to get in the way of his opinion.

  55. @CAM
    Um, actually Al Franken did show considerable remorse and indicated his willingness to cooperate with a Senate investigation and to accept any sanction that might be determined ("due process") - but he was hounded out before this could occur. I believe that, had that course been followed, he would not have repeated his behavior.

  56. @CAM All goo except for the part where Franken must cop to actions that he said didn't happen. I believe him.

  57. I have noticed that reckless drivers who come too close to pedestrians in parking lots, crosswalks, etc. will often honk or yell at the pedestrians, even when the drivers are at fault, as is the case all too often. I used to wonder why - did they actually think that pedestrians simply shouldn't be there? Then I realized that often the drivers were scared and upset that they had almost hit someone, and then, without thinking, made the pedestrian bear the brunt of their emotional outburst, because they had "caused" it. I see a similar thing with these men. They feel shame and guilt - and then target the women, because they are the source of it.

  58. I was furious watching that Franken/Goldberg/Maher segment. The arrogance and rudeness of Maher was plain to see. I miss Franken too, but even a few minutes of reflection on the behavior of the men involved in MeToo call-outs seems too much to ask of Maher and others who prefer to blame the victim or claim that women make false accusations. Men have known for a long time what is appropriate behavior. They simply had the power to ignore norms. No more.

  59. @Kendall Ziegler

    I too watched Maher take Goldberg to task for her part in railroading Franken from office. It was a thing of beauty.

    If only more would have spoken up at the time. Franken's right to a Senate Ethics Committee investigation might have been observed before he was convicted in the liberal press and hounded out by his liberal, female colleagues. We might still have the most strident, intelligent and courageous critic of the President in a position to do something about him. A man with an actual history of support for feminist causes.

  60. @Kendall Zeigler Maher is always rude. That is his style. Was that the first time you watched the show? He is rude to liberals, conservatives, everybody. I find him most entertaining. His is the only show I watch on HBO. When he is cancelled I will cancel. And Franken was a great Senator and was for women's rights. He made a mistake. But he is a comedian and went too far. There are senators much worse. Hell, we have a President who doesn't understand boundaries. For instance, his daughter.

  61. Wow thank you. We need to hear voices like yours more often and louder. This cuts at the heart of our egoistic capitalistic ethos which is rotten to the core. The fear is that women have something to say and will show that their ideas might be better for this planet. Sex harassment is the weapon of the inferior to maintain illusory control.

  62. I was in a coffee house soon after the tape- recording surfaced with DJT's boasting about how easy it was for him to have his way with women. A guy said, "I don't know why there's all this fuss about groping - we've all done it." I shall never know why I didn't say out loud, 'Not I!" Even more reprehensible was not saying, "My father never did." and "My son never has."

    There are tens of millions of men, from all socio-economic strata and in every country, who have respected all the women they have known and met throughout their lives. Maybe we should wear a scarlet letter - or better still, an azure letter: D for decent.

  63. @Ruskin: Thank you for your words. If more men stand up for women and women of color, things will change.

  64. @Ruskin. Watch Jonathan Katz’s TED talk on what men can do. Stop worrying about defending yourself and start making changes. In case you haven’t noticed, women can’t change this alone.

  65. @Ruskin

    Unfortunately in those situations, it's easy to just be shocked that someone would say that and in the moment forget we should refute it. Most men have NOT in fact grabbed women inappropriately. Guys like this give us decent ones a bad name. I try to always call out bad behavior but sometimes you just aren't in the mood for the fight. I get it 100%.

  66. The larger problem with the "Me too" movement is that it quickly devolved into mob justice, not due process. The examples of Franken, Hockenberry, Leonard Lopate, etc. reflect that. Franken received no Senate hearing; Senator Gillebrand (for her own political devices) forced his retirement before he could defend himself.
    In a correlating issue, the punishment fails to meet the level of the "crime." Many of the accused failed to commit an actual crime; their actions were wrong, creepy, and abusive (Louis C.K., for example) but not illegal, or at least they weren't charged with any crimes. Their banishment from public life seems way too severe for actions that (in my opinion) don't warrent it.

  67. @Matthew that their actions were not illegal in many cases is the point. Men have overwhelming power to make laws. Most judges are male. And most men enjoy the thought if not the reality of forcing themselves on woman. They think of it as a male prerogative. They are outraged to be denied it. If they can’t get away with it themselves, the thought that other can so maybe someday they can is consoling. Now if the females they consider their own property are sexually assaulted, it’s a different matter, not because it is an assault on their own prerogative. And most men think that women enjoy being groped and having the male organ forced down their throats.

  68. @Matthew Thank you for beautifully illustrating the need for Goldberg's statement. You are still focused on the women, not on the men. Next time, lead your comment by talking about "Mob Abuse" - the ubiquitous and traumatizing systemic sexual predation of all women by a critical mass of men enabled by the majority of other men's silence -- before pointing fingers at "Mob Justice."

  69. I see your point and a point. But then I wonder, when else, with this much smoke, do we so vehemently declare there is no fire? Only in the cases when women accuse men, specifically men in power.

  70. The Public Relations blueprint for crisis communication is Regret, Recompense and Reform. Regret means a sincere apology that takes responsibility for the act and the resulting situation. Recompense means an appropriate amount of money or in-kind (coupon for replacement of defective item, college scholarship fund for the children of a deceased employee or victim) is given to those who were impacted or suffered a loss. Reform means a consultant is hired to review all processes and procedures; they recommend and implement changes so the event never, ever, ever re-occurs.

    There are too many cases where the men do not take responsibility: if I may have misunderstood or if I may have offended someone. NO. You crossed a line. Go back and stand behind the line. Paint the line so that you will see it clearly, as will those around you. Then complete the other two steps of Recompense and Reform before you are re-admitted to society.

  71. And oh, the recompense!
    What may have been a moment or an episode for the perp may well have been a career derailed or a professional “door” closed — and way leads on to way, forever.
    The recompense would be ENORMOUS, and is probably incalculable. No coupon or voucher will replace a career that might otherwise have been
    Yes, by all means, pay up — in full — before proceeding to restore.

  72. My take on the Al Franken accusations is that there was a difference between his accusations and many of the other accusations that were tried in the media. It seemed to me (I watched the BM episode) that BM was trying to make that point. We know that conservative political operatives go to great lengths to unfairly discredit the opposition. This has been demonstrated in the Planned Parenthood and ACORN video and video editing controversies. Knowing this and knowing that Al Franken is a likely target - and then seeing "our side" (dem leaders such as Gillibrand and others) sort of make an end run on any sort of investigation - makes me a little suspicious. I want people to call this out. Bill Maher is a start, but it is pretty bad if someone as far from the center of politics like Bill Maher can't even express his opinion on this without being shut down by a prominent guest outspoken on and knowledgeable about this issue.

  73. @Craig,

    If you saw the episode, did you not see BM shut her down?
    "This is my time..." is what I think he said. Glad she wrote the article.

  74. @Craig - "We know that conservative political operatives go to great lengths to unfairly discredit the opposition."

    Come on, Craig. Cherry pick examples all you want, but only the politically blind don't see that both parties do this. Case in point - Hillary's campaign funding the Steele dossier.

  75. @Craig Exactly - We lost one of the best because cowards like Gillebrand jumped on the guilty until proven guilty bandwagon.

  76. Why is it that there is often a payment involved. Maybe just an offshoot of the world's oldest profession. In this digital age women are expanding their horizons. Work is difficult, grueling and tedious. Easier to jump on the bus and find any reason to avoid it. If I could sue or cry for every issue or insult. Wow. Lawyers must love this. This is why Trump will be re-elected.

  77. @one percenter

    How interesting that you self-identify as a one percenter.

  78. @one percenter. Actually the question is, why do men abuse and how can we stop them.

  79. Immediately after we are born, our first experiences with women are with our mothers, aunts, sisters. Then how these women interact with husbands, boyfriends and us. So what are little boys experiencing, long before we have any critical ability to analyze the world?

  80. Just come out and say what you’re thinking instead of making folk guess.

  81. @disappointed liberal. Many books, articles, and studies have been written on this topic. Check your local library.

  82. Thank you, Michelle. It reminds me of a quote from the movie "Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy", where there is a gun that causes people to have empathy. A male character aims it at a female character named Trillian, and she says, with a look of total disdain, her voice filled with exasperation, "It won't affect me. I'm already a woman." If we only had that gun for the #metoo men.

  83. Obtuse and not helpful

  84. Saying sorry simply isn't enough. Louis C.K. received such a dramatic backlash to his resurfacing after a 9 month hiatus because he hasn't demonstrated change. What are these men doing to understand the intense public scrutiny they face? What are they doing to evolve? How are they rectifying their actions with their victims?

    We need to stop treating these men like little boys, accepting their empty, pouting apologies. We need these men to grow up and rehabilitate.

  85. @Eric Thank you.

  86. Wait let's take a look at the progression here. His employers were told that he was a bully at work. So he was allowed a certain amount of power over others that was fear based. Then he stretched his power into a more nuanced fear based approach. Sexual harassment. Propositioning women. And he was married with kids, but not married or fatherly enough to keep his hands off of other women or develop some sort of moral compass as a role model for his children or lead others effectively at their work with out using fear.
    He got what he deserves. The consequences of his actions. Does re-approachment mean he should pay for everyone's therapy? Has he written apologies to each and every one of them? DId his corporation re write their human resources policies about sexual harrassment and work place ethics and professional behavior?
    He was entitled to behave as badly as he wanted and he is entitled to the consequences. But perhaps the real issue is that his employers were told, and they did not act soon enough. He was allowed to continue. His kids now have a powerful example, of what they don't want in life. His whining is offensive to the people he hurt. It is typical of the school yard bully who has been put in his place.

  87. Hockenberry and many other men who've been taken down by #Metoo are prime examples of Exceptionalism.

    They are Exceptional Rainmakers, Exceptional Writers, Exceptional Scholars. They believe their Exceptional Abilities give them Exceptional Privileges. They believed their Exceptionalism freed them from the responsibility to behave like an actual adult at work.

    Nope. They need to let some of that hot air out of their inflated self-images. Ignominy will be good for their souls.

  88. @ah

    "He was entitled to behave as badly as he did." ?!

    No, He was not entitled to behave as badly as he did,
    while he is entitled to the consequences of his behavior.

  89. I’m so tired of all this. Women do not understand men and men do not understand women. I’ve only read one article in the NYT that actually looked at men’s behavior and perception in a deeper way-something all of us need to study closely if we are going to be honest about the nature of biology, sexual and social behaviors that rely heavily on instinct and impulse. In the meantime I deeply miss my daily installment of Keillor’s The Writers Almanac, I miss Franken’s common sense addresses that lifted me out of hopelessness, I miss CK’s fantastic monologues about masturbation and I miss House of Cards because of its stellar writing and genius cast including Spacey. Holding people accountable and blacklisting are wholly different things. I am ashamed by how sledgehammers are now the new flyswatter. Retribution is not long-term change for the better.

  90. @RachelK I miss Franken most of all. He had a sense of maturity and his votes for women were good for us in the Senate. An immature picture should not have brought him down. He is a comedian also. Women lost a great advocate. We have a president who detests women and I also believe this country. Shameful for this country.

  91. @RachelK

    So we let the men grope to their heart's content as long as they amuse us? Or write well? Or otherwise have bankable talent?

    How about rape, then? What level of genius would that man need to earn your understanding?

  92. @RachelK
    Yes CK's wonderful masturbation monologues. oh that's right I don't know if he ever mentioned that he made women, who went to him for advice on their careers, watch him do it.

  93. "Apologizing" isn't good enough. And some of these men didn't even do that, or barely did so. They'll come back when they choose to change, or they won't.

  94. Right on, MS. Goldberg!

    Women have always struggled under the power of our extremely male-dominated society.

  95. They have been judged as guilty without a process that insures fairness. This is my problem, a serious one, with how Franken, in particular, was treated, and why I, as a life-long Democrat, will not vote for any of the women in the Senate who supported his lynching or any candidate any of those women support.

    The other issue is one that is harder for me to describe. It is that I have known a lot of women in my 70 years. I try hard to think of any that would have taken the harassment that many of the #metoo women describe and not just punched the guy out.

    Supposedly most of these women were strong and capable.

    They weren't cashiers at grocery stores who had to tolerate abuse because they did not have other skills or power. It is those women whose stories are not being told--instead it is the stories of rich, successful actresses.

    There is also a slightly holier-than-thou quality to the #metoo stuff. And for many men, I'm sure, a feeling that if it isn't this, then it is something else bad I'm doing. It can get awful tiring being held responsible for all of the country's problems.

  96. @Dan Exactly, Dan.

  97. @Dan
    This comment is a great example of why the MeToo movement will eventually die having little impact. Men (the people in power in this world) will not listen. They are only concerned with their own view. How sad.

  98. @Dan

    The fact that you can't understand why Franken is in trouble; that you can't get why even successful women are up in arms; that you don't see the reason that cashiers at grocery stores aren't being heard is exactly why we need to keep the #MeToo movement ablaze.

    Yes, Sir, there really is "something" bad you're doing. You're doing nothing. Nothing.

  99. Wonderful, nearly surgical analysis of the self serving me too men. I think the only way to get through to them would be to simply set up situations where they actually experience what it is like to be groped, reduced to body parts, leered at, etc. etc. etc. This would be a good use for the virtual reality headsets. To really work, they'd need to be programmed to insert these awful experiences while the wearer was unaware they were coming. There's got to be a way...

  100. @Deb Kennedy I don’t think these men are redeemable. I think the only way is to raise men differently.

  101. @Deb Kennedy

    I've been around men, in many countries, and I can promise you that they would take being "groped, reduced to body parts, leered at," by women as the greatest things to happen to them in their lifetimes.

    Next idea?

  102. I would like to better understand whether the MeToo movement is exposing and denouncing bad actors and bad behaviors in an otherwise healthy system (be it Hollywood, journalism, politics, academia) or whether all these established structures for acquiring power and influence are themselves fundamentally rotten, demanding participants --the powerful and aspiring powerful -- to dissimulate, mask, and offer up their bodies in order to move up the ladder.

  103. @ths907 It’s a system everywhere. That is the point. Every woman has experienced it. It’s built into our culture and society. Catholic Church, anyone? Every workplace. Even the Buddhist communities one generation old in the West. It’s in every situation, every school, every family.

  104. Patriarchy arose because men are perceived as the rightful ones to hold the reins of civilization (correctly or not). #MeToo will not go away and male (or female) transgressors will not be allowed back into a forgiving society until we both acknowledge and seek to truly value women as equals to men.

    Just consider our use of language. A man describes his life to a co-worker and comments about how well his "LITTLE woman" keeps the household for him.

    Raising children, tending to housekeeping and nuturence as a whole are not valued. A woman choosing these needed tasks takes a severe economic loss.

    The #MeToo movement was presaged in My Big Fat Greek Wedding when Voula, facing her imminent marriage, sought to understand her impending role as a wife. Her mother wisely and presciently counseled "Yes, your father is the head of the household but I am the neck and the neck moves the head anyway it wishes."

    Some men like Harvey Weinstein are irredeemable and deserve permanent expulsion but I grieve for the loss of Al Franken in the Senate or Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood. The loss of these contributions might be the price we need to pay but permanent exile is the same as discarding yellow, green and red from the palettes we use to paint the world as we might otherwise see it.

    Let's use the #MeToo movement to finally ratify the ERA and let the implications of true equality ripple through our world.

  105. @Douglas McNeill: I find it incredible, that you put your loss of “Frank Underwood”, ahead of the trauma a 15 year old boy experienced, when Spacey climbed into bed with him. You have no sense of what is real, and what is play acting. He is a predator, a sleeze. Turn off your tv and start talking to real abuse victims. it may change your mind.

  106. @Douglas McNeill

    Douglas, thank you for plugging the ERA. It seems almost forgotten, but its ratification is central to movement toward gender equality. The ERA would enhance the legal recourses available to women. In the absence of that Amendment the most valiant efforts for women's rights are hampered. A right without the power of ready and effective enforcement is not a right.

    Shaming has effect, but is not a substitute for legal rights.

    What conscionable justification is there for opposing the ERA?

  107. You said that these men don't feel sorry for women, just for themselves. But I didn't see any evidence that the person you mentioned most prominently, Al Franken, doesn't feel sorry for women, just for himself.

  108. I don't think it's helpful to lump all sexually inappropriate, often inexcusable and sometimes criminal behavior into one category. Do people believe that Al Franken is a sexual predator who uses his position and power to control women? I don't. What Franken did doesn't come close to Harvey Weinstein's criminal behavior or others like him. As with so many things, we initially tend to overreact. Franken was sidelined a little too quickly in my opinion. I watched that episode of Bill Maher, and tend to agree with him on Al Franken. Perhaps BM could have handled the situation (interrupting "new rules") a little more gracefully, but it is a no-no to interrupt a monologue.

  109. @Ginger Walters
    I agree and what Gillibrand did to Franken was wrong....he should still be in the senate. As a woman yes been abused been left uncomfortable but clearly an al Franken is not a predator

  110. @Ginger Walters
    No, we dont "As with so many things, we initially tend to overreact." There was no over reaction. There was, and is, an under reaction. That under reaction went on for decades. Many decades.
    Is Al Franken the same as H Weinstein? No. Is what he did bad? In my opinion yes, and he got what he deserved. Good for him for resigning. Don't come back. We don't want you.

  111. Uh, no. If they felt bad for the women, they would have felt bad for the women from the start and never harassed them. They harassed them because they don't feel anything for them. It's what they feel about themselves around women that saturates their actions.

  112. I agree with other commenters about Bill Maher's dismissive attitude when you interrupted. What I find so interesting is that 9 months (gestation) seems to be the amount of time these men think is enough time for them to stay out of the spotlight. Louis CK also chose to come back after 9 months. Tom Ashbrook of On Point - a similar number of months - asking, "Ca we talk"? Well no actually - not if you unwilling to respect the women whose experiences with you preceded your expulsion. Hubris...from all of them.

  113. During the height of the MeToo Movement, I was dashing up the stairs of this house to see if the latest 'beast' was on a phone directory I had compiled to make life easier when working for an economic adviser at Rock Plaza. The list is twenty years old.

    Harvey Weinstein had visited once, looking slightly crumpled and out of place, and I wondered why he looked surprised when I gave him a cordial welcome. The suit does not a secretary-make and my boss rarely commented on my apparel. It never occurred to this reader at the time that Harvey was a big bad wolf, and these comes in all different sizes. Other names were listed, and I was beginning to wonder if women were going overboard in these revelations.

    In the 60s, a transatlantic sex scandal broke out in the news where Douglas Fairbanks was mentioned, my father and two other men in this adulterous affair with a British duchess, and my parents now divorced, my mother now in Paris announced that my father was to blame. 'He was the only one who confessed that he found her irresistible', based on long letters he sent to the victim. It all ended badly for the duchess although he answered her call for help a few years later.

    In this era of mortification and worse, it might serve both genders to think before pouncing. Recently an elderly man paid me a compliment at the supermarket and his son, with a smile, reminded him, of the MeToo Movement, causing the three of us to laugh.

    It is serious.

  114. I do not believe that people (male or female) who for lengthy periods knowingly and selfishly imposed their will over people with no power against them will or can feel real remorse. They knew that those under them were experiencing grief while they were doing it, and it bothered them not one iota at that time.

    They may regret their actions now because of the consequences, but if they did not care about the well-being of others earlier, it stands to reason that they surely do not appreciate it now. They never changed, they were simply exposed.

  115. This essay hits at a deeper point: humans do not like to apologize. They do like to make a lot of excuses. If the men who did something twenty years ago simply said sorry, and acknowledged why it was wrong, that would help them move forward.

  116. @Anthony I think you mean men don’t like to apologize. Women apologize constantly and reflexively. Thus the current phrase, “Sorry, not sorry.”

  117. So many of the comments here suggest due process must be served: which would require those accused to be formally charged with their offenses and tried in court, with possible acquittal or prison time as the consequence.

    Who thinks any of the accused would elect to risk that? If given a choice, would Cosby or Weinstein choose public shaming or due process?

    I am all for due process, bring it on. But keep in mind, for many offenses the options may not exist due to statutes of limitations. And where it does exist, I bet those accused pray every day the option isn't exercised.

    If you want to clear your name, fight back. The court system exists for everyone.

  118. Good article, but I take umbrage with her point in the beginning "I can only imagine how disorienting it must be to have the rules change on you so fast..." The rules did not change so fast... the rules of respect and understanding of boundaries have always been there ... these men just thought those rules did not apply to them.

  119. There could be some circularity underlying this phenomenon. The very lack of empathy that makes some transgressors unsympathetic is what made them victimize others in the first place.

  120. @Mike Beers. True, a characteristic of sociopath....lack of empathy.

  121. “What made them victimize others,” sounds dangerously close to claiming that men have no control over their actions. That they’re *forced* somehow into abusing women. Surely, no human being would in good faith make such a horrid argument! Surely?

  122. Not all sexual assault is equal, and there are far more egregious things than groping women.

    But, as a woman, whose Mother was a doctor, whose sister is in finance, nearly every woman I know has experienced inappropriate behavior at work.

    And there was nothing we could do about it, ever.

    If you made a complaint, you were a shrew, a bitch, you had no sense of "humor."

    One of the most telling things about the Moonves episode was how the men on the board, some of the most powerful men in our society, reacted.

    “We are going to stay in this meeting until midnight if we need to until we get an agreement that we stand 100 percent behind our CEO, and there will be no change in his status,” said one board member, William Cohen, a former congressman and senator who was defense secretary under President Clinton, according to directors who heard the remarks.

    I was upset about the Al Franken incident, but then I read Franken was 55 when that photo was taken, that he tried to kiss Tweeden. That's not ok. Grow up.

    I had a man from a company I was working with grab my breasts at a business dinner, in front of everyone. It's strange, because I actually have thought about that for years.

    I had a boss who propositioned me at work.

    These are all power plays.

    I know women who have been assaulted, but I don't know any men.

    I don't know what the solution is, but I am glad you interrupted Maher, Ms. Goldberg, and I think his snarky comments are part of the problem, not the solution.

  123. @V
    Men also attack other men.
    Have you ever heard of "prison rape"?

  124. @

    Few men have faced the terror of being raped although it happens on a regular basis I never some prisons.

    So men don’t “get it”. When I was years ago for possession of marijuana seeds I was surrounded by inmates and threatened with rape. Fortunately it didn’t go down. Got off with a broken nose.

    It was an absolutely terrifying experience that changed my life. I vowed that I would fight to the death if I ever was in any situation like that again.

    And I have often thought that if it had gone down I probably would have taken my own life or taken the life’s
    of the two main perps who were white supremaists to get
    my power and dignity back.

    The rest of my life has been mostly in fight mode.


  125. Exactly. Every woman I know has had this happen several times. Every single woman I know. Think about that.

  126. Is the debate about returning these men to public lives? They're not needed. Having gotten to high perches while running parallel careers as abusers, they are blatant examples of unearned privilege. It only compounds the problem to turn the microphone on again. We've heard enough.

  127. @KJR
    So you would try, convict, and punish people based on their gender.

  128. We need to update the laws in this country to better protect the rights of the accused. No one should lose their job because of a subjective standard such as someone else feeling "uncomfortable." Standards need to be objective, evidence of wrongdoing should be "clear and convincing," and the penalties should be proportionate. Wake up, men!

  129. @Oscar
    How about updating the law to protect the rights of the victims? Or are you only worried about the accused?

  130. @Oscar When a man uses his position to abuse women, he most definitely should lose that position. The man who sexually harassed me retaliated when I spoke up. I lost my job. He did not lose his. This is most common. No one should have to field some jerk’s horrific behavior just to have a livelihood. We go to work to work, not to be targets and victims.

  131. @Oscar
    Losing one's job because of bad sexual behavior is not necessarily an issue of law. The company has the right to have a culture of no tolerance for such behavior. Laws have never protected women from such behavior even when they are on the books. Men's bad behavior has mostly deteriorated to a "he said/ she said" scenario. When there are multiple women who complain it is regarded as to many to be true. Women usually come out on the fault side somehow. The real solution is for women to keep speaking out and for men to begin policing other men's behavior.

  132. I think that to project the feeling of shame on the the outed men, is not necessarily the reality. In speaking with random men, the sense that I get is that there is fear, fear of the discovery and its consequences. I have not heard one man in conversation address the concept of shame when talking about the "#me too movement. I hear them doubting the truth because of the numbers of women finally disclosing how they were groped, molested or assaulted.
    It might seem inconceivable to some women that it could be their husbands, sons, fathers or uncles who would do some of these things. I would ask them to consider it could be closer than they ever realized.
    The # me too disclosurers are not that of strangers groping them, though this happens very frequently in elevators, on the street, in lines etc, but rather know men, acquaintances, relatives, bosses, etc.

  133. @Vicki Yes. The men, many men wish to deny. If one woman comes forward, it’s not enough. If ten women or fifty women or thousands of women come forward it’s not believable because it’s too many. Failing to have any idea about how or why to change the status quo, men dismiss the voices of women who are sick of having to live with this. The fact is, all the women I know say they’ve all experienced men’s sexual misconduct and abuse. Every last one. So while the men may feel shocked and confused, they still need to wake up to what they perpetuate through denial, what every woman—daughters, mothers, sisters, wives, friends—endure.

  134. I did not like the way that Bill Maher handled your interruption of his monologue but I agree with him on the Al Franken issue.

    The rush to judgment led by Senator Gillibrand and several others, did not allow for a complete airing of the facts and for any other punishment other than political annihilation. He should have had his day in court. If the charges turned out to be true, he should have been censored, given a chance to change his behavior and in the end let the voters decide whether or not he should keep his seat. If it turned out that his behavior was criminal in its nature (and nothing that came out against him even bordered on that) then and only then should he have been forced to resign or expelled from the Senate.

  135. @Brooklyncowgirl

    Re: the way Maher "handled" Goldberg's interruption:

    It's a live show. It is timed to the second. His guests are informed beforehand that the final segment is Maher's alone.

  136. @Brooklyncowgirl
    I think the bar of convicted criminal is a bit low don't you?

  137. @Brooklyncowgirl: most of these cases do not get handled in court actually. And there was evidence and witnesses, etc. Of course his behavior pales in comparison to Trump or Weinstein, but until there is sufficient disruption, any and all bad male behavior needs to be called out if women (and men) want to make real and lasting change.

  138. What bother me most is that so many careers, especially Franken's, have been ruined by accusations from anonymous women. How are we to know the truth if the won't come forward and say their names and stay the offenses. Al Franken, one of the most important voices in the Senate in defense of women's rights, was railroaded by Gillebrand on her high horse by largely "anonymous" accusations. Either these accusations should be made clear and public, or Franken should return to politics where he belongs.

  139. This is false. At least four of Franken's accusers were on the record, not anonymous. Some of them produced photos. They were coming out of the shadows reluctantly because of the risks involved. Franken halted that process by resigning (thankfully). If he had stayed on, it is possible even more women would have put their names out there.

  140. @Robert Goolrick
    The fact that Franken apologized and left office should be enough evidence for you. Al Franken stood up and said ‘I did it”. He didn’t say “times have changed” or “I was a comedian, so I thought it was funny”, he said I made mistakes and I need to take time to figure out what this means for me and my family. Franken validated the accusations by taking responsibility. While I too am incredibly disappointed by the political fallout for Franken, that’s even more reason to work harder to place a better Senator in that seat. The specifics of the sexual harassment allegations are really none of our business. Even so, I saw pictures of Franken “groping” a woman on a USO trip, I believe, aired on national television. Where there’s smoke, there are probably lots of fires that Franken doesn’t want exposed.

  141. @Robert Goolrick

    Maybe you'll feel better if you consider that men have been ruining women's careers with their sexual harassment and gender based discrimination for quite a while now. So many that we even passed the Civil Rights Act. But yeah, me too. That's the real injustice here. "So many careers." Wow. So many.

  142. I personally had, not quite a metoo moment, but a misunderstanding with a woman--almost entirely my fault--for which I apologized before the metoo movement. I think it was good for me and her that I did so. Some of these men, a rather forgiving use of the term, might feel better if they did so as well.

  143. @Mike Livingston
    yes, but once something becomes a public issue positions get becomes very hard to either apologize or forgive..

  144. For me to be convinced that a politician is using his position of power to inappropriately touch women during photo ops, the evidence has to be overwhelming and not come about after he is already in the news for something marginally related.

    And I’ve watched almost every bill Maher episode, and you’re a frequent guest - he always yells at or tells guests to shut up when he’s doing one of his segments and they interrupt- male or female.

  145. I think it's confusing to men to see their behaviors now being questioned, challenged and condemned. I for one am glad to see this behavior no longer tolerated or at least being brought out into the open. Yet to me there is no doubt there will be backlash if there isn't already. Powerful men in particular who thought they could do and say whatever they want have been finally held accountable for that behavior but you can be sure they don't like being challenged let alone the audacity of actually losing their jobs and thus their positions and outsize salaries. Thing is, women have been treated as second class citizens for millennium. It's not going to change overnight if it truly changes at all. You still have men in power making decisions on women's rights. Never ceases to amaze me that they think they can dictate their ignorant views. Ms. Goldberg hits the nail on the head when these guys fail to see the impact their behavior has had on women all along. They don't get it. They never will.

  146. It's not just that Al Franken's actions were so much less severe than many of these other men, but it was his reaction to. So far as I know, he's the only person who has been named by #MeToo who stood up and immediately took full responsibility for his actions, instead of calling the women liars, or hand-waving away what he had done, or trying to rationalize. He stood up immediately and said "Yes, this was wrong, and I am ashamed and sorry that I did it". Do people think he was insincere in that statement he made?

    When his Senate colleagues told him that he should resign, he didn't fight them or try to say that what he did was so innocuous that he shouldn't be forced out over it. Despite the fact that it was largely Kirsten Gillibrand pushing for his resignation so that she could remove a 2020 Primary obstacle from her path, he still went along with it because he didn't want to be perceived as someone who doesn't take responsibility for himself.

  147. @Sam Rosenberg He should have been insincere as far as the hands on the metal brazier thing went. That was clearly a pose adopted together by two show business people, and it was sleazy for Tweeden to have complained about it.

  148. @Sam Rosenberg- to resign over those accusations was crazy. His past in the senate outweighed by far , his minor mistakes and buffoonery.

  149. @Sam Rosenberg Don't put this all on Gillibrand. Franken's resignation took place during the fierce Roy Moore/Doug Jones Senate race in Alabama. Democrats could not afford to derail the focus on keeping a pedophile out of the Senate by giving a pass to admitted bad behavior by Franken.

    I believe he was sincere in his apology, but I also think resigning was the right thing to do, and helped keep the utterly disgusting Moore out of the Senate.

  150. Well, here's the thing: Maybe you shouldn't behave this way toward women in the first place. Most of these guys, once they were exposed, pilloried, and held to account, behaved like the average criminal does when arrested, tried, and found guilty: Their expressions of remorse were not for the victims and they were remorseful only because they were caught. Obviously, as with any type of violation, there are degrees of severity. On the whole, though, I have very little (if any) sympathy for these guys.

  151. @Frunobulax the whole social media thing seems like an abuse of power to me. It is being used to shame and punish with no vetting or balance or earned discussion. Any unwell person can create a storm against another.

  152. “The point is not for women simply to take power out of men’s hands, since that wouldn’t change anything about the world. It’s a question precisely of destroying that notion of power.”
    - Simone de Beauvoir

    The transgressors are all drunk with power....male power...and male narcissism.

    The transgressors need to clinically unwind their entire lifelong psyche to understand the treachery of their ways.

    Only intensive daily psychotherapy for an extensive period of time could begin to cure these sad sacks of their cluelessness.

    For the record, I write this as a man who has never suffered from an addiction to power, undue influence and taking advantage of others.

    In the meantime, sunlight is the best disinfectant for these social cretins and critters stuck in their own dark and wretched egos.

  153. @Socrates
    Thank you for the Simone de Beauvoir quote, I love it.

    But I also think that some of the MeToo leaders are a bit drunk with power (e.g. Gillebrand).

  154. @Socrates As usual Socrates you hit the nail on the head. Just because men not being able to behave badly with women is an idea whose time has come, doesn't automatically bestow on transgressors an understanding of why their behavior is contemptible. This will take much, much longer.

  155. @Socrates I basically agree: intensive psychoanalysis is certainly called for -- assuming that these men could even tolerate such a treatment -- but so is a grassroots and political effort towards societal change, towards how women are perceived.

  156. Another great column from Michelle Goldberg, though I stumbled over one of her aphorisms: people should not be defined by their worst acts. That's a matter of degree -- depends on the egregiousness of that one action -- similar to our assessment of wrongdoing when it comes to predatory sexual advances. To believe otherwise is to give credence to Trump's assessment of the "very fine people" who marched under Nazi flags in North Carolina last year. Those demonstrators might be great neighbors, parents, philanthropists and otherwise pillars of the community. I'm still very OK with defining them by their actions on that single day, as I am with sexual predators.

  157. Being a true adult means that you must accept the responsibilities of your errors. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it, apologize and then make some changes to never do it again. This is what mistakes are supposed to be about. To learn from them. If the only thing that these nasty men who can't keep their hands to themselves can do is lament their own existence, we really have gotten nowhere with the me too movement. Change needs to occur on both sides. Women must never shut up about their abuses and men must begin to look past their own egos to actually see the woman in front of them. This type of psychological change takes daily practice and must be consistent. Things will not change for anyone unless people accept responsibility for their own behavior and we put in the mental effort to never give up.

  158. While the reverse cases are rare, let's still consider Avital Ronell and Asia Argento. Ms. Ronell, I believe, was given a 1 year suspension from NYU for her assault and harassment. While it's unclear what the consequences for Ms. Argento will be, in both cases there were similar excuses and denials of responsibility. In Ms. Ronell's case the consequences were mild enough to make any self-respecting woman retch--yet few or none have done so. Perhaps Ms. Goldberg's argument would carry more weight if she remembered to include the cases of Ms. Argento and Ms. Ronell in those people uninterested in accepting responsibility.

  159. @Hazlit
    Those falsely accused do not compare (not even remotely) to those never reported, never held accountable. But it is clear where your sympathies rest.
    Ms Goldberg's argument carries its weight just fine, and doesn't need your approval to do so.
    Glad you are aware of what all "self-respecting woman" think and feel.

  160. "Me too" is also to some extent " our turn".

  161. @Hazlit
    Those with too much power over others all too often feel entitled to abuse that power, as Prof. Ronnell and Ms. Argento amply illustrate. It just so happens that men tend to be the only ones in our society who wield that kind of power. I hope the MeToo movement makes ALL those with great power more cognizant of the need to treat others respectfully.

  162. When the countless women whose careers and lives were destroyed because they spoke out about their experiences find restitution, I'll be willing to entertain the notion of forgiveness for these men. Until then ... sorry guys.

  163. Being a true adult means that you must accept the responsibilities of your errors. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it, apologize and then make some changes to never do it again. This is what mistakes are supposed to be about. TO LEARN FROM THEM. If the only thing that these nasty men who can't keep their hands to themselves can do is lament their own existence, we really have gotten nowhere with the me too movement. Change needs to occur on both sides. Women must NEVER shut up about their abuses and men must begin to look past their own egos to actually SEE the woman in front of them. This type of psychological change takes daily practice and must be consistent. Things will not change for anyone unless people accept responsibility for their own behavior and we put in the mental effort to never give up.

  164. Since 1991, when Anita Hill bravely testified on Capitol Hill, every conscious adult has had the opportunity to understand exactly what sexual harassment in the workplace looks like. It's absurd for any man to now be "disoriented" that their bad behavior is, indeed, bad. They knew what they were doing was inappropriate and they did it anyway. Plenty of men have managed to have successful careers while treating their female colleagues respectfully and kindly. Why should anyone feel sorry for the men who blatantly behaved otherwise?

  165. This is a confusing issue for many; one way to clarify it is to think about WHERE these things happened: the workplace. That is the crux of the issue. "Bad" sex, wolf-whistling on the street, being groped on a subway; all these things are annoying and disgusting, but they are about these particular men's clumsiness or their sad and psychologically damaged need to feel power over women, not their ACTUAL power. Their actual power is in the workplace and that is where it is NEVER acceptable. Period.

  166. @LS

    What you call "bad sex" would be called "rape" by most women. Being "groped" anywhere is as damaging outside of the office as in.

    "WHERE" these things happen is not the issue; that they HAPPEN is. Nothing to be confused about, friend.

  167. @LS
    The culture of subtle hating and repressing women has to change. It is everywhere. Men have actual power over women everywhere.
    Your comment shows a lack of awareness of what women are saying about our lives.

  168. @LS I agree with you in a sense. I don't know if you are a man or a woman but as a woman I have been realizing how much I walk around in fear or choose not to do things because I don't feel safe. These two instances you speak of may not be exactly the same, but they are connected. Perceived power and actual power are both threatening and I believe it is true that all of these men, the wolf-whistlers and the CEO's, have deep seated psychological issues. You can't arrest someone for the wolf calls, but the thought behind the action is still harmful and perpetuates the concept of powerless women.

  169. My first comment kind of went past the question you pose. Do the men feel bad for the woman? I would think that most men accused of some sort of harassment would think about the woman's feelings after the fact. Esp nowadays. Of course some might not care, (see Trump). I think that men would question themselves and the whole situation. Was it really that bad? I didn't realize it was bothering her? I think that most men really mean they are sorry if they find out there were over the line and were making someone uncomfortable & scared. But it is very hard to know where the line is, esp for a man. I have had women get mad at me because I didn't ask them out after maybe a brief flirt or two.

    If your asking does someone not quite at the Harvey Weinstein level feel bad. Or someone with power that has been doing this for a long time. They might, But maybe they didn't think they were doing something wrong in the first place. Some things go on for so long they just become accepted. Not that they are right. I guess the answer is it depends. It depends on the person, what they did, who they did it to. Again, the whole situation. I just keep imagining this kind of THX1138 (the movie), or 1984 world where your not allowed to even talk to one another and love is outlawed. Obviously this movement is something Ms Goldberg is passionate about. But maybe too much so.

  170. @Doctor Woo
    "I just keep imagining this kind of THX1138 (the movie), or 1984 world where your not allowed to even talk to one another and love is outlawed."
    Really? This your important point about the 'movement'. No, it is not difficult "to know where the line is, esp for a man", or it certainly shouldn't be.
    I guess I missed all the accusations of sexual harassment for polite, respectful interactions between men and women.

  171. I’m sorry that we have these disgusting men with their disgusting behavior in our midst
    I’m sorry that this “movement” has replaced our rules base democracy with instant judge, jury and guilt via social media
    Two wrongs don’t make a right. We need to let the rule of law decide guilt. Not social media

  172. @Paul
    Convicted crimes are not the only abhorrent activities in society. There are many reasons to lose a job that are not crimes. Sexual harassment is one of them.
    Nothing would've happened without the public shaming. Nothing is likely to happen even with it. The backlash has already begun and men will continue to be able to sexually harass women. We need social media for exactly this reason.

  173. @Paul
    The article linked to regarding John Hockenberry is a very good depiction of how this kind of harassment works, and has many aspects common to these stories.
    Usually there is no illegal sexual behavior. Sexual and personal innuendos are vague, but persistent, allowing for multiple way to deny, "I didn't mean it that way," I'm sorry, that is just the way I am (he is)." The targets are not as powerful as the aggressor is and are sometimes quite powerless (interns and entry-level employees). The responsibility to fix the problem is given to the target. The target leaves, giving up an important opportunity and disrupting their career. The abuse is repeated for years.
    This is simply not disgusting men and disgusting behavior. These are powerful people taking what they want from others and often one of the things they take is the person's future.

  174. The problem with the #MeToo movement is the same as the problem with Twitter. It's in the open, it's inflammatory, it inevitably destroys rather than punishes.

    It needs to stop.

    Settle it in the office. Settle it in the courts. The abuser should be fired. References should be withheld.

    Judge? Jury? Fine. But it's not up to the private sector or people with no more knowledge than 144 characters (or whatever) to overextend in its role as executioner.

  175. @Allentown #MeToo developed because settling it "in the courts" is not leading to ANY justice for the victims.

  176. Totally true.

    Also, we tried to do it this way. It should have worked, but it didn’t. #metoo is the consequence.

  177. there's a profound difference between systematic abuse and sexual assault (Weinstein), exploiting position and power (Franken) and talking about it in a way that displeases some (MacDonald).

    One is irredeemable and I don't care much about sympathy. the second may be atonable, but I'm not terribly interested in helping. the third is gift to the national dialogue and is vitally necessary.

    to be clear MacDonald's comments about Downs aren't laudable, but that he would stand in the face of this wave and say "who do we want to be once we've lived in this post #metoo ness for a while?" is a necessary question.

    I still have my torch out and I'm still excited to see the accountability for these actions growing, but I'm so thankful for Norm pointing out the absurdity of the vanguard.

  178. Cultural transformations are noisy and messy. They have to be or the transformation would never happen.

    The Harvey Weinstein's of the world will become cultural icons as examples of an old culture that is no longer wanted. That is their contribution to the effort to build something better.

    We will know when we have gotten past the noisy and messy part of the me-too cultural transformation when we have new icons that represent the culture we do want. It could be one or more of the me-too predators who truly does try to redeem him or herself; but, that will not be an easy road for any of them.

  179. There are so many different aspects to patriarchy that it's hard to figure out where to start. But while we men are trying to figure it out, why not start by obeying the rules of the workplace.

    Then we might add by following the basic principles and prohibitions of our civil rights laws.
    That's a start, though certainly not enough.

    We need to look at our daughters, wives and mothers and simply say to ourselves, "what if that happened to her?"

    Then we have to recognize that it has, and it does, sometimes on a daily basis and for the most part, we remain silent. Then we have to recognize the influence that our pornographic culture has on male behavior.

    Some self-reflection about the women in our immediate lives may be enough to at least cause us to examine our own behavior from a deeply personal perspective.

    It then isn't a great leap from there to becoming more aware of our social behavior with women who are not part of our immediate, intimate circle, but who are part of someone elses.

    And from there simply look out over the broader social environment and recognize that we have created a society where ALL women live with a level of stress, fear, and anxiety that men do not experience.

    We are like addicts in our male culture and like any addiction, the first step is simply recognition and acknowledgment. Engage with the women in our lives about these issues, don't hide and don't deny.

    We are not the victims of the social conditions that we have created.

  180. @drspockThoughtfully stated. Thank you.

  181. @drspock
    Thank you!!!!

  182. @drspock Just assume that no woman is attracted to you until she makes it perfectly, explicitly clear that she is. Workplace or not.

  183. Men are aggressive and like to fight. If you attack them, then they'll fight you.

    That's it in a nutshell.

  184. @Jonathan You're missing the point -- the women are DEFENDING themselves from unprovoked aggression.

    That's not an attack.

    And that's exactly what the perpetrators don't understand.

  185. @Jonathan

    That's what in a nutshell? A woman's authentic attempt to speak the truth is not an "attack". And characterizing it as such does not speak to agression and an enjoyment of "fighting," but to fear and self pity.

  186. @Jonathan Of course! And men rape because they're just "boys being boys!" What do women expect if they don't offer up the sexual services that men require?!

    Great job being the voice of the patriarchy.

  187. This time history is being written by the victims, not the victors and the former victors are furious. "Power concedes nothing without a demand." Frederick Douglas.

    Full confession of injury done, understanding the cultural and idiosyncratic roots of one's destructive proclivities, remorse for harm done and restitution precede forgiveness and redemption.

  188. Excellent column! Expresses the feelings and frustrations of many of us.

    The offenders who are demanding sympathy are demonstrating the attitudes that allowed them to engage in the bad behavior. Their victims never mattered to them then and they don't think the victims should matter to us now. Only their fate and feelings are important.

    That last paragraph is the best summation I've ever read on this topic.

  189. "But in the nearly 7,000 words of his essay, as he demands that we consider his misery and embarrassment, he never really grapples with the misery and embarrassment he caused, never thinks deeply about how he affected the lives of the women who changed jobs to escape his advances."

    And this is precisely why I don't feel sorry for any of them.

    Michelle Goldberg, I usually agree with you but not here. It's not that I'm a puritan, or Javert: but you get to the nut of the problem, which is, many of these (usually) powerful men can't seem to understand they've crossed any lines at all.

    Real change comes from admitting one's mistakes, taking the punishment, and learning from your experience. It also comes from realizing how your actions affect others--because only through acceptance of one's unacceptable behavior can redemption occur.

    But this cavalier "boys will be boys" until their outed, then whining about whatever fall from grace they suffer, can really be obnoxious.

    This is the problem with powerful men who feel their power alone entitles them to behave like pigs or extortioners of career advancement.

    And for every Weinstein, Hockenberry, or Rose, what about the average men women encounter in everyday life who feel entitled to act badly?

    Won't some watch the rationalizations of the powerful, thinking "me too," what about my pain?

  190. Maybe there are at least two things going on here.
    One is the puritanical legacy in how we view sex. Our normal desires and drives are often avoided, repressed, submerged and sublimated, usually surfacing in inappropriate and illegal ways.
    The second is the sense of entitlement and power by some men, particularly those in positions of power and authority, that feel the rules don't apply to them.
    I don't think that most men in second category that abuse women need a graduate class in ethics and morals to know that what they are doing is morally wrong and possibly illegal. They choose to do it anyway because they can. Maybe it has it seeds in the puritanical legacy.
    To discount what woman have to say on this issue, to fail to empathize with them or acknowledge the trauma of their experience, or to dismiss their veracity and memory, not only exacerbates the problem but prevents us from dealing with it in an honest and healthy way.
    And as is pointed out here, in the crazy environment in which we now find ourselves, and in a very cruel way, the perpetrator becomes the victim and the victim becomes the perpetrator.

  191. @Jack Carbone
    I wish you had kept your comment to the one paragraph about the value of admitting to mistakes.
    As to the rest of it: Telling the truth about being molested does not make a person a perpetrator.
    The victims do not change Into perpetrators because the actual perpetrators do not have the emotional maturity to admit to and make restitution for their crimes against (mostly) women!
    Feelings of entitlement come with the possibility of downfalls. Any and all perpetrators who fell in with the common culture of treating women as objects need to change their habits, which may feel uncomfortable. That doesn’t make them victims. They can still be part of a healthier society if they put effort into it. Will they?

  192. "Reading Hockenberry’s essay, it hit me: I feel sorry for a lot of these men, but I don’t think they feel sorry for women, or think about women’s experience much at all. And maybe that’s why the discussion about #MeToo and forgiveness never seems to go anywhere, because men aren’t proposing paths for restitution. They’re asking why women won’t give them absolution."

    Yes: it is still about them, and what they want, instead of seeing the woman as a subject with her own wants. Maybe the women Hockenberry reached out to just didn't want to have anything to do with him--and he is claiming *he* is being treated unfairly?

  193. @Woman

    In the case of Al Franken, it certainly isn't “all about” him. It’s about the people of Minnesota and this country who will no longer benefit from the great job he did as a senator.

  194. I agree with Michelle’s observations. And I think this piece could use the understanding of shame so well captured by Brene Brown’s work. Shame absolutely shuts down empathy for others; how can one be empathic when cast out of the tribe? Without a solid public understanding of how shame works and real tools for reckoning with it, humans don’t do so well and tend to become entrenched in narratives of blame and counter blame. Should these men reflect on the experience of the women? Absolutely. Do they have the bandwidth to do so? I’m not sure, probably depends on their ability to process shame. Should the victims play therapist to the men who cross women’s boundaries? Absolutely not. But our culture will not become the progressive and inclusive culture we want without a solid reckoning with how bad-othering seems to be how we handle wrongful behavior on the left.

  195. @Joshua Green This is the kind of thoughtful observation that leads to meaningful dialog. Empathy and understanding is the only path to internal change: change based on the desire to be one's best self. I am always struck by how much my perception of acceptable behavior is affected by societal norms. Al Franken's behavior didn't seem to warrant a resignation in my view, but I pondered whether my view was based on a skewed norm. When discussion is replaced by reactionary pendulum swings from one extreme to the other, the result is instead entrenchment in a position. Thanks for the insight!

  196. @Joshua Green

    Brene Brown talks about unwarranted shame, not earned shame. This is a hugely important distinction, Brown’s sense of shame applies to the targets of harassment, not the perpetrators.

    In fact the issue here is that the perpetrators have no shame. They mistake their discomfort for pain, their fear and anger at being held accountable, their embarassment at being caught for a real penalty.

  197. I am a Catholic. As part of my religion, when a sin is committed,the sinner must admit the sin, ask for forgiveness and then atone for the sin. I don't understand why anyone expects immediate forgiveness, regardless of the severity of the sin. This applies to both men and women. Unless and until society as a whole makes this clear to all, these types of infractions, large or small, will continue.

  198. Also as part of your religion pedophile clergymen in positions of power have been protected and enabled for generations, why don't you start there in your own house before advocating that everyone on earth accepts Catholic doctrine.

  199. For much of human history most women have been forced by cultures and circumstances to put up with roles requiring sexual submission of one kind or another. We are now in a period where many have decided they've had enough and mass communication has given them a really powerful means of being heard and demanding change and accountability for past behaviors.

    Being the imperfect creatures that we are, this has resulted in a lot of anger and confusion. There are people on both sides who see themselves as victims and are reacting with resentment which serves to deepen the divide and make the whole problem seem at times intractable. Personally, I would like to see us all acknowledge that our responsibility now is to try to agree on what is acceptable behavior going forward and how to best raise the next generations to avoid these inequities in the future.

  200. @Diana Platts well said

  201. I entirely agree with Michelle Goldbergs’ point that the men don’t seem to get what they have done to women. In addition to all the horrible things done to a woman’s person add also the loss of opportunity, loss of earning, and loss of voice. More needs to be said about the wall of limitation men who have abused their power have created. When such men make amends through respectful action that tears down the wall of limitation perhaps their redemption can be believed.

  202. I think Michelle makes good points and on most I agree. My discomfort in all of this is the "one size fits all" summary judgments that are being made. As with any accusation, indeed any crime, there are degrees of harm (which in no way suggests that any of them should be excused out of hand) but the public trial is swift and the punishment virtually the same - for both the Harvey Weinsteins (ugh) and those who did far less. And yet Clarence Thomas continues to sit on the highest court in the land and Donald Trump in the highest office and I see no pursuit of those disgraces. I confess I prefer due process and a methodical reasoned approach - I also fear that the rapid-fire, homogeneous dispatch of all cases will, down the line, create a backlash that precludes advancement beyond a Me Too world.

  203. A lot of talk about men who believe the rules don't apply to them. This is certainly a big part of the problem. But the another aspect is that these men are adhering to the rules as they have learned them. We say one thing to our kids but they see that the actual rules are quite different. Society winks and nods at "bad boys" who flaunt the spoken rules but adhere to a code we teach through our actions. Part of that is that we allow powerful or attractive people to get away with murder without opprobrium. Perhaps ultimately #MeToo will affect that societal contradiction. But if you want your kids to grow up understanding the complexities of the world they live in, don't just give them the Disney version. Acknowledge the injustice in the way people commonly behave and give them a way to fit that into their model of life before they draw conclusions about the real rules.

  204. I really don't think men are that confused but I do think they are annoyed at their "fun" possibly ending and their having to "make nice" at least in some minimal way to make it all go away. It's just so tiresome after essentially having free rein (or reign!) to grab and have whatever you want but couldn't get in an honest way.

    I do wish we could look more at the degree of the offense and punish accordingly but I'm not overly concerned if men are punished a bit more severely than what they should be. The pendulum has to swing - society isn't perfect. Men will have to feel the pain just as women have and as we figure things out we'll get wiser and fairer, I hope. In the meantime, no man is so special that he isn't replaceable. This behavior can't be overlooked - there are plenty of good men who can step up and fill their shoes.

  205. @Renee Hoewing
    Not that many of us desire to step on to the media mob judgement platform! Many of the unkind comments about men in general in these pages have hit their mark. Unproven allegations are the new justice? We demur.

  206. I agree with those who already commented that the Bill Maher incident was more than awkward. He was condescending and dismissive. I like most of his political views - and the show can be crudely hilarious - but he's an entitled "pig" on many issues.

    As to the thrust of the column: Ms. Goldberg's ambivalence clouds the piece. As an older man I regret her too easy capitulation to the idea that the sands are shifting under men's feet. The behaviors of men, including the relatively lesser offenses of men like Franken, are behaviors I have never thought appropriate. I've worked for 45 years, including many years in positions of some authority, and always realized that I had a deep responsibility to support women and call out the sexist or inappropriate behaviors and attitudes of other men.

    The #MeToo movement is a refreshing and needed advance, but we men weren't all living in the dark ages carrying clubs before now.

  207. @Barking Doggerel excellent post. I'm an older, male worker, too, and I've played by the rules my entire life. The rewards for this were slow, while I saw co-workers with awful behavior towards women climb the ranks because of their Alpha male type personality. For example, a co-worker of mine at a small newspaper was having sex with another employee in the coat room and he was never fired, and moved on to prominent positions in the industry. The grinders and do-gooders, who showed up to work every day, treated women and everyone with respect, were patronized as nice, little guys, who go along to get along, but really didn't have a future in the business (journalism), thus my departing that industry -- and this happens in a lot of industries. I never understood it, still don't get it. A lot of these predators are getting what they deserved.

  208. @Barking Doggerel
    The Al Franken situation is a good example of "it was ok and now it's not." As a comedian, boundaries are always pushed to create laughter. Bill Maher pushes the boundaries with his affinity for using foul language. I would guess that as a child cursing was not allowed with his Catholic school upbringing. He is exceptionally bright and could probably be just as successful without using quite so many vulgarities during his interesting show.
    Al Franken innocently used a sleeping woman to act out a very goofy senario which would be funny to goofy men. Had he used a manikin instead of a live woman it became unacceptable. A year prior to the METOO movement it would have just been distasteful but funny. Al Franken deserves an exception to the rule because he really showed no malice, had no bad intentions and cannot be compared to Weinstein. There are degrees in just about every offense and in the MeToo movement it was so new that all men who offended women in anyway were 100% GUILTY. Sometimes women do lead men on. Good one day but not the next. I think Levels of Offense must be set in this regard. In a
    1-10 Level of Offense System, Franken would get a 1 and Weinstein would get a 10. Losing his Senate position is crazy. He has already been humiliated. I guarantee he will not be hugging new female acquaintances anytime soon. I wouldn't mind a hug from him. Too bad. He really is a good man and was a great Senator.

  209. @Barking Doggerel
    A person could rightfully conclude that Bill Maher was "condescending and dismissive."

    However, I do not believe that was his intent.

    He was doing his "New Rules" comedy routine that concludes every broadcast. If he would have taken time to respond and argue the point, his comedy material prepared by paid writers would have lost value.

    I am sure Maher would have been happy to let Ms. Goldberg have her say in dialogue, had he not been doing a planned monologue.

  210. We all want fairness. I think there is too little thought to what the victims want, and there is too little value placed on what the victims have lost.

    1) The behavior must stop.
    2) Some would like an apology.
    3) Some would like compensation for lost wages and opportunity.
    4) Some would like the perpetrators to experience the humiliation and powerlessness that they endured.

    First and foremost - the behavior must stop. I don't know how to get the message through to men. The public shaming seems to be having an effect.

    If some of you have ideas about how to get men to stop harassing without public shaming I'd like to hear it.

  211. In all probability, the women who were mistreated by these men did send signals that the behavior was not OK. But, there was no incentive to listen because there were no consequences to the actions and society had not evolved enough to provide a mechanism for dealing with the complaints. Boys will be boys after all. And the fact that some of these men are feeling persecuted suggests that they haven 't evolved beyond their own narcissism and lack of empathy. I agree that what Al Franken did was fundamentally different than the predatory behavior of Harvey Weinstein. Part of the problem is that we haven't figured out how to punish these two examples differently. The fact that women finally have a voice to which people will listen, perhaps, obscured the legitimate differences in offences. Going forward, I am hoping for a system in which women's complaints are taken seriously but one in which we mete out different punishments based on evidence of what happened.

  212. @Susan But we have. Weinstein is facing criminal charges (and was left by his wife). Franken simply lost his job. Different punishments and absolutely no one is saying the two should be treated the same.

  213. Great article! A common sense reminder (apparently not common sense) for these men – and everyone, really – to hold more than one thought in our minds and to attempt to be empathetic and give acknowledgement to each of these thoughts.

  214. Thank you, thank the NYTs for publishing this, thank you for insisting on clear-eyed and objective responses to perpetrators trying to argue to be brought back in from the cold because they have suffered enough. Forgiveness is given not in response to demands, or emotional appeals for empathy but when there is sincere apology and restitution. I would like to see a few pieces analyzing and documenting the losses incurred as a result of this kind of behavior. Women have made choices to leave workplaces, avoid promotions that would put them in harms way, lost invaluable mentoring and access, been forced to continue to choose to be in humiliating circumstances in order to feed their families, live daily in aggravating and ego-smashing workplaces in order to do their work. There are calculable losses in potential earnings and psychological consequences which the impact the health of society. Where are the economists and sociologists? Too make the institutional changes needed we must have more than “shame” (although that is a start!). Again thanks. Let’s get mad and get data!

  215. @Adina Kalet writes: "Forgiveness is given not in response to demands, or emotional appeals for empathy but when there is sincere apology and restitution."

    Many celebrities have apologized and it hasn't done them any good.

  216. This is such an interesting subject...and we need to to become more interesting as there are complexities, nuances, and differences where at first there seemed to be only stereotypes. I am convinced that many men (and less frequently women) are somewhere on the autism spectrum. I don't say that tongue in cheek or as a criticism but as an idea that needs looking into. Why is it that these men (and less frequently women) have such a lack of empathy? Why is it that they don't really see their victims? And how is it that they DO see them? We are seeing how widespread this problem is for the first time ever though we women have been walking around basically in fear, deference, and subservience to/of men since we were young, without realizing it. My hope is that the young women and men of today and the future will see this more clearly and be empowered to stand up and free themselves of this burden. We need easily accessible ways to report and discuss. We need to educate on how to protect yourself and how to be able to back up a claim of harm because we also need to not allow false accusations. I feel like this movement is all over the map right now and I hope that it will gel and produce meaningful change for both men and women.

  217. The article is 100% bankrupt. In the realm of social media it appears that the rules are changing with regard to men and women and sexuality and how it is expressed and everyone involved seems in agreement. So it is time to go forward and advance together and treat each other better. Yes yes and YES.

    But if any self serving writers and public people seeking importance and relevance by saying that men should be shamed or sympathetic under the new rules because they flirted with a woman 5 years ago and she did not like it, and there is now this club of victims that every women can join and celebrate the opportunity to get back at men for anything that happened under the old rules, and make dramatic claims of powerlessness ...well that is bankrupt IMO

  218. @Pat There is a vast difference between flirting and harassment.

  219. @Pat: "...people seeking saying that men should be shamed...under the new rules because they flirted with a woman 5 years ago and she did not like it,..."
    The fact that you can reduce all that has emerged from the #MeToo movement to such drivel exposes you as the one who is "100% bankrupt" whatever that means. But it's your phrase so back at ya.

  220. @Pat
    Flirting? Please look up straw man argument.

  221. I’ll make this so simple that even the clueless might understand: there is a vast difference between a amateur shoplifter and a armed robber. Yes, both are crimes, but the damage and potential, and ACTUAL harm to another individual is VAST.
    Franken was caught up in the early frenzy, and was overly punished, for frat boy pranks. Weinstein’s behavior, over many years, deserves a long Prison Stay. BIG Difference.

  222. @Phyliss Dalmatian This is why Franken is walking around, entirely free, not the subject of a criminal trial, not in prison or on his way to prison, not stuffing his face at an Olive Garden in the Southwest while pretending to be in some sort of rehabilitation program for sexual whatever, etc. You are erroneously conflating Franken and Weinstein; no one else is. Franken lost one job because his behavior was deemed unfit. That's it. He is not in any way being treated like Weinstein. He has, however, suffered consequences for his behavior. Seems ok to me.

  223. My jaw is still on the floor, from watching the Maher segment. (And I am a longtime weekly watcher, and fan, of him and his show). That he would choose that topic, Franken piece of it, and conclusion, with one of our nation's most powerful and vocal voices on the topic sitting near him, while she is supposedly "silenced by the show's rules" - are you kidding me???? Really Bill? Is it not hard to see this incident perhaps as a metaphor for the entire larger picture?

  224. Thank you, Michelle. I have been pondering this since learning yesterday that Diane Feinstein gave the FBI a letter from a woman who accuses Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual offense when they were in high school. In high school? If this is the first and only accusation against him for the rest of his life, why is it necessary to publish it? Are there not other paths to redemption besides destroying a man's dreams? Had this woman ever made contact with Kavanaugh before this to let him know how this act had affected her? Could private meetings, perhaps in the presence of a professional counselor, have effected a reconciliation? Apologies? Forgiveness? Were they young enough that the state would have considered him a juvenile in the justice system and treated him as such? Because now he is definitely being treated as an adult, and the consequences for him will be a life-term sentence. I did not want Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, but my heart aches for him. This does not seem the way to do justice.

  225. @marilyn But having received the letter, is it reasonable for Feinstein to hold it back?

    Surely as a minimum she has the responsibility to pass it to the responsible investigative authorities who could (and have) decided that it is not worth prosecuting?

  226. @marilyn
    Why is it the responsibility of the victim to contact the accused? Do they need to reach out to beg for forgiveness? My heart does not (and will never) ache for Brett Kavanaugh and others accused, it aches for the victims.
    Should 'minor' transgressions in someone's past, especially when they are young and not adults, be forever held against them. No. If this (what has been reported to date) is all that happened, then in my opinion it should not keep Brett Kavanaugh from the bench (other things probably should), but if it does I will not shed one tear. Society has treated Brett Kavanaugh very well. Non appointment to the supreme court is not a life sentence.
    Why?Why? Why do so many people put the responsibility on the victims? Why do they feel bad for the accused? Why do they feel worse for the wrongly accused than for all the victims who never had the voices heard, never reported the abuse, etc., etc., etc.

  227. @marilyn
    I don't want Kavanaugh on the Court, either, but my heart doesn't ache for him. To go back to high school, unless his offense was truly egregious, reeks of a real witch hunt, not the bogus one in Trump's ravings.
    When a Democrat is back in the White House, in January 2021, along with both chambers of Congress, one of the very first pieces of legislation should be to add two or four new seats on the Supreme Court ( packing the Court ). Maybe the first would be to get rid of the filibuster. I've read that Chuck Schumer has promised Mitch McConnell that he won't do that. If that proves true, then the Democrats should choose a different majority leader.

  228. The time of the misdeeds needs to be considered. The #MeToo movement has led me to reflect on things I did 30 years ago or earlier that, in light of what I now know, I regret -- even cringe at. But what I did was verbal. I never physically imposed myself on anyone or engaged in exhibitionism. I'm sure I made the women involved uncomfortable, but my pain now would be greater than theirs then if my life were upended by my past misdeeds. So my sympathy does extend to people like Al Franken, even if he or Bill Maher fail to fully stress the harm Franken did.

  229. @melhpine it is 100% ok for you or I to reflect on the past and what we did 5 years ago or two or 50 or 100 but no one else has the right to do that or at least no one else's reflection should be granted any significance or importance or value. You might look back out of generosity or maturity and interest in growth as a person for that you should be admired IMO. if men are looking back in fear and wanting to fit in a survive, that is not good and no good will come out of it.

  230. Goldberg is right. The same way these men demanded sex from women they are demanding absolution from women as though they are entitled to it! Nothing has changed. It's still all about them and what they want. Their whole world still revolves around them. Stand like a mountain, ladies. The grace in forgiveness doesn't come from forgiving, it comes in asking forgiveness. Even God won't forgive them if they don't ask for it.

  231. I didn’t like the way Bill Maher handled your interruption even as I agreed with his larger point that Al Franken, having acknowledged his violations and indicated genuine remorse and awareness, would be a valuable asset in the national political scene. Re Maher, congratulations to you Michelle for calling out his insensitivity toward the actual victims. You may never be reinvited onto his show, but hopefully, have knocked him a notch off his high horse and given him an opportunity to present a more nuanced view on the issue in future discussion.

  232. So many yeses to this. Thanks for writing it.

  233. I enjoy Bill Maher's show tremendously and generally agree with his take on things.

    However, his ending segment on Al Franken was just flat out cringe worthy. Those segments are usually home runs, but he grounded into a 6-4-3 double play on that one, it was tonally weird and not even in the vicinity of being funny (But he shouldn't be interrupted, Ms. Goldberg, that's what the rest of the show is for, and you did great as usual).

    He was also dead wrong about his proposition that Senator Franken should come back and run for president.

    It's too soon, there was too much "smoke" and too many unknowns about alleged circumstances other than the infamous photograph.

    You don't just leap off the bench from something like this and run for president, unless of course you're a republican who have no such unwritten rules.

    And beyond that, Bill Maher's assessment that Al Franken could take Trump down because he could get under Trump's skin is misguided.

    Al Franken was just never all that funny to begin with.

    If you want to go that route, you need a Stephen Colbert or Bill Maher himself to step up and finally put his money where his mouth is.

  234. Nice article, Goldberg. We need to hear more voices like yours.

  235. Transferring careers is not the same thing as losing an already existing career.

    Either way, that’s besides the point.

    Trial by social media is a terribly unsustainable way to run a society. Put the bad people in jail or get off their backs. It’s unfair to everyone, including the women, to not focus on the laws and evidence.

  236. Oh, I'll say the stocks were an effective deterrent in Colonial times. This is about the same thing.

  237. Change can be difficult. It is probably difficult for some men (and impossible for those who are serious narcissists) to understand how, suddenly, they are not allowed to treat women as objects who exist mostly to serve them. These men do not understand or care what it is like for the women because, perhaps, they would be thrilled if a woman tried to touch them in an inappropriate way.
    Now that women are able to speak out more without fear, the truth comes out: women want to be treated with respect and are not going to put up with anything less.

  238. The response to think about yourself first, and sometimes only, is not confined to men, it seems to be embedded in human nature. Really, all of us have hurt someone at some point. When they speak up, even carefully, how often do we immediately go to their experience and think about how they feel? Not often that I've seen and only in an conducive environment. Otherwise SOP for all of us is denial, dismissal, negation. Everyone commenting has done the same, male or female, doesn't matter, I guarantee it. It's just in this situation the harm is so much greater and the inability to put ourselves in the skin of another so much starker.

  239. So this is the point at which we have arrived: She feels "discombobulated by suddenly feeling the hand of a man she admires on her backside." A fair way from Harvey Weinstein, but the career goes out the window just the same.

    Now the author admits that perhaps we should not be entirely indifferent to that outcome. But when some of the offenders talk about their plight, the actual issue is that they do not repeat their expressions of remorse. Yet again. The damage to the victims is all that we have been interested in for a long time, and if someone finally dares to bring up something else, perhaps he should just be able to say it and assume that we know all that has been said before.

  240. Too bad he didn't take his children's feelings into consideration before he propositioned or behaved badly toward unwilling women. Just 'being able to get away with it' doesn't mean it wouldn't have come to the kid's attention eventually. What kind of messages(s) did he directly or indirectly send to his sons and/or daughters over the years? Would he want his daughters to just accept and enjoy it?

  241. This is the world we live in now. Say (or do) whatever you want, say “I’m sorry”, move on, repeat. This allows for never having to use any self-control mechanisms on ourselves which we all know are just such a drag. Narcissism 101.

  242. Seriously!

    When will we finally exhaust that topic?????

    Is there nothing else to write about that may be a little more vital?

    Like the survival of the planet in the face of continuous attacks of the administration on curtailing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change denial?

    Once the planet is cooked, no one will care about #MeToo anymore, whether men or women.

    Because we will all be dead or dying.

    Not to trivialize the issue, merely putting it into a little perspective. And right now, I think this topic has had enough coverage and by now I see this as a totally unnecessary distraction from arguably much more vital issues.

  243. @Kara Ben Nemsi
    Many of us can concern ourselves with sexual harassment and global warming and even other topics at the same time. It really isn't too hard.

  244. How long will the witch hunt last? The male behaviors now
    condemned have long been warp and woof of our society,
    and while I don't excuse them most of these fellas were probably
    unaware of just how badly they acted. Nor can I excuse the women, especially those who were strong and well placed, who passively accepted it, that is, until in their own way they could act like a mob of sorts rather than having the guts to act for themselves as individuals...which takes real guts! It's here
    that the "Maoism" mentioned in the article really applies.
    And the worst tragedy of all is what we've lost, both men and women, in our own Salemite fashion from having destroyed
    the great things many of these people imparted that had
    genuinely enriched our lives.

  245. So at least you recognize there was some harm being done.
    But, goodness! they ran amok trampling on people around them and when they're caught up short we should excuse them based on biological imperative?
    What about that thing called civilization?

  246. My experience is that men really do not understand why what they have done is wrong. I think it's because they convince themselves at the time of the harassment that the women would be flattered by it. One man I finally confronted after his years of relentless comments finally culminated in touching when he opened my jacket only seemed to "get it" when I told him his behavior would be like me reaching into his wallet every time I saw him and helping myself to $50, that he'd think I was nuts, criminal, and classless and would likely never have anything to do with me again. But, when Les Moonves walks away with $120 million (and the women only walked away with a lot of stress), and when Donald Trump becomes president despite an admission of serial sexual assault, while Bill Clinton is impeached for fibbing about a consensual affair, the issue remains merely political and is, in and of itself, not taken seriously at all. They just do not get it.

  247. I don’t feel sorry for them. I find this whole routine of “Okay, I said the appropriate words, or what I felt was appropriate, and sat in the corner for five minutes so now I’m demanding to go play like I always have” sad and repulsive. I’ve yet to see any of these guys sg]how that they have learned anything. It’s all about them because the entitlement that allowed them to feel it was okay to do what they did is still firmly in place. So my sympathy is 100 % for the people they harassed and whose careers were sabotaged.

  248. The only acceptable thing men can say to women around #metoo is, “I completely agree with you”, and that’s not a discussion. No wonder the conversation isn’t going anywhere.

  249. The 'Me Too' movement, with the encouragement of Ms Goldberg, coloured outside the lines with Al Franken by unquestioningly accepting the word of a highly biased Fox news contributor and hounding my Franken from office. From beginning to end, a political hit job (before the accusations emerged Roger Stone, casually mentioned it was Franken's 'turn in the barrel') Mr Maher's point was that women, the disadvantaged, and all those who don't receive a fair shake in society lost a powerful voice in the senate - and for what?

  250. It is no longer socially acceptable for men in high-visibility positions to sexually harass women. Period. No one is so talented, brilliant or economically valuable that they are given a free pass to foist unwanted sexual attentions on to others. As for due process: none of these men who were "tried in the media" are sitting in jail cells. They lost their jobs because they embarrassed their employers. There are lots of talented people in the world without their attitudes of entitlement who can be hired to replace them. Some of these people are women.

  251. Franken was railroaded, plain and simple. Whether it was political expediency or he was simply caught up in the reaction of the moment. His primary accuser was a Republican operative and Fox News contributor. The few others came forth with bizarre unsubstantiated stories. Rather than hold an inquiry to determine the truth of what happened, his colleagues threw him to the wolves.

  252. I also watched the Bill Maher episode, and was not happy with his ending monologue.

    I was also saddened by the dismissal of Al Franken. "Shenanigans" don't always equate to behavior than cannot be corrected. There is a distinction between correctable behavior, and pathological behavior.

    What isn't well understood by men, or women, is the way that sexism wraps around women their whole lives. Religion is generally a patriarchy. The toys and clothes girls and boys are given, how they play, how their parents and society distinguish them all send a message of master/servant.

    I think this is part of #MeToo. Half of the population is being treated as second class. It's an awakening where women are saying that they have had enough.

  253. There is no evidence that Franken did anything wrong at all. First, he was accused of sexually groping a woman during a comedy tour and second, he is accused of grabbing another woman at a public event in Minnesota. In both instances, he allowed himself to be photographed. Most men who sexually harass women don't voluntarily record the event. Indeed they try to harass in private so their accusers have no proof. It's much more plausible that he and the "victim" were trying to be funny (they are comedians, after all), then that he was actually sexually assaulting her.
    Franken shouldn't have resigned and you, Gillibrand and others shouldn't have asked him to resign without proof that he did anything wrong. Since his resignation, no proof has surfaced.
    I hope one day you are falsely accused and convicted without evidence. Maybe then you will be more careful when you make unjust claims.

  254. As you probably know we are in the Jewish religious period called "Teshuvah" or repentance culminating with the High Holiday of Yom Kippur. Teshuvah reminds us of what all these men have not done--repent, and repent in public and make some restoration. What we have instead is a cry of "Poor me, woe that I am suffering." Until we all acknowledge our transgressions by working through the defensiveness and denial so epitomized in an almost Biblical way by Donald Trump's refusal to acknowledge the deaths in Puerto Rico, we have not repented, recanted, reformed, and renewed ourselves to warrant support and trust. This is not shame, but self-awareness and growth essential to move beyond ourselves to see how we have hurt, humiliated, and harassed others. That is the true shame; that we cannot confront our selves whether it is the Roman Catholic Church, Donald Trump, John Hockenberry, Asia Argento or even you and me,too.

  255. Things sure have changed since I was a teenager in the 1950s. The girls despised the sort of boy they called a “straight arrow” meaning one who takes you on a date and doesn’t make advances.

  256. @PL

    In the 1950's here in the U.S., the boys who tried to grope us on a date was known by the name "Hands" throughout the school. Went to the prom alone or with the town bad girl.

    You're making things up.

  257. Men aren't the problem and feminism isn't the answer.

    The problem is patriarchy. Feminism is just an adaptation to that way of life.

    The answer is... (you say it).

  258. Oh, Michelle, you just had to do it, didn’t you? Bill Maher was annoyed because you interrupted his New Rules segment, which is a sort of monologue (and usually the best part of the show). You were annoyed in turn so you just had to make a dig in your usually terrific column. Saw this coming a mile away. Wish you would have just left things alone. Bill, even if you disagree with him about his feelings regarding his fellow comedian Al Franken, is one of the good guys as far as women’s rights are concerned.