Bill Britton: “Power and Sexual Harassment.”

Britton image

Illustration: David and Bathsheba (Flemish tapestry)

Some claim that the decline of our national morality began with Bill Clinton. His rendezvous with Monica  Lewinski was certainly a headline-grabber and indicated a moral lapse unbefitting an American President.

But one only need look back a few generations to find more-recent examples of Presidential indiscretions: e.g., Eisenhower and Kay Summersby, Roosevelt and Lucy Mercer. Even the Founding Fathers were not immune to the failure to control wandering libidos: Jefferson and his black slave Sally Hemings is the most popular example.

Libido combined with power can be both intimidating and seductive. The ancient Greeks would often blame the gods or their agents for humanity’s errors: read Euripides’ Medea or Homer’s Oedipus Rex if you believe that this is something new; and the Bible describes King David’s seduction (or rape) of Bathsheba, wife of Uriah. As the good book reminds us, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccles. 1.9).

My point is that men in positions of power use that power in ways that deviate from their electoral, contractual, or moral obligations.

And so we come to the present, in which the vanguard of a few courageous women have said, “Enough!” Indications are that those few are fast becoming many. Among the male rebuttals offered up are: “I don’t remember”; “It was consensual”; “That never happened” (despite corroborating statements of witnesses and co-workers); and President Trump’s favorite, “They are all liars.”

Of course, the exercise of sexual power is not limited to politicians, corporate executives, or sports figures and celebrities. It is found in every demographic, from farm worker to priest, from sales clerk to college professor. It is largely a male control problem leading to female victimization (although we cannot ignore male victimization of young boys), perhaps encoded by genetics or society or a combination of both (often used as thin excuses, by the way).

The question all men must answer is a simple one: Am I to be ruled by a system of ethics founded on decency toward others, no matter where  an individual might be in the socioeconomic hierarchy, or am I to yield to my base instincts? The events of the past few weeks demand that all men examine their conduct in relation to women and the vulnerable, whether co-worker or casual acquaintance.

Bill Britton is a freelance writer and formerly an editor for John Hopkins University Press, ABI Research, and Elsevier Science, and is a frequent contributor to Vero Communiqué.

Mr. Britton’s comments are his own and do not reflect the position(s) of Vero Communiqué.

We strive to encourage a free and open exchange of opinions and welcome yours. Through discussions like these we can all learn more about the topics themselves and the perspectives of others.



13 thoughts on “Bill Britton: “Power and Sexual Harassment.”

  1. Did you leave out Jack Kennedy because there were too many women to mention? And Monica was not the worst of Bill’s peccadilloes when you have a very credible charge of rape.
    Although I agree with you that it’s a male/power problem, I believe that women have served as enablers in many instances and have allowed the problem to worsen. My perspective stems from coming of age in the corporate world in the mid-70’s. It was a time when sexual morays were changing and a women’s place in management was being established.
    I knew a number of women working their way of the ladder who were expected to “put out”. Back then we didn’t have HR departments steeped in women’s and minority law; we formed our own support groups and dealt with it. Men received preferential treatment in hiring and promotions and we dealt with it.
    But where are the women who came of age in the 80’s and 90’s with the path paved to the top for them? Where are the strong feminists who demand equality in every way? From what I’ve heard about what these pervs did – I would have told them to zip it up and walked out. I would have taken the sex toy and hit him where it hurts. I would have screamed bloody hell to HR and the media.
    No, these women shamefully took it and let it continue to happen to more and more women. Now they’re courageous?? And where were the other women in high positions and the men who knew it was happening?
    Of course, when the left’s agenda is to promote immoral behavior, take God out of everything, condone sex at an early age, births out of wedlock and abortions, should we really be so surprised that men in power think they can get away with just about anything?

    • As a retired commercial pilot who climbed the aviation ladder in the ‘70’s when less than one tenth of one percent of females were commercial pilots, I am appalled by the nonsense of today’s sexual corruption, while the media showboats and bickers about it to sell more soap.

      The aviation profession required years of training converted to performance. Get it right and you get to come back and perform another day. Get it wrong and you don’t.

      Not only did one’s career demand the highest levels of discipline, lives depended upon it.

      Aviation is the one workplace where you can’t “sleep your way to the top. “ I felt fortunate in this regard. Personal relationships took a distant second in priority while advancement was based upon seniority and performance.

      If other professions held the same standards, structure and were adhered to, perhaps the country would be better for it and mutual respect would prevail.

      The Cultural Marxists and the media work hard to degenerate our morals while promoting pleasure as the first priority and capitalizing on youthful exuberance.

      Little wonder there is a matter of misplaced standards from males and females alike. This will continue as long as such behaviors are condoned and championed. Principles begin at home, through teachings and by example which carries through to the workplace.

  2. Kay Summersby as a “Presidential indiscretion?” That was a pathetic attempt to rewrite history. Besides occurring during Ike’s military career, most of his biographers discount any sexual component of the relationship. FDR, JFK, LBJ, Clinton…these are the acknowledged examples of the attempted point.

  3. Mr. Saul: Summersby published two books of memoirs of the war years, “Past Forgetting: My Love Affair With Dwight D. Eisenhower,” in which she described a passionate but frustrating affair with the General. “I feel free to talk about it now,” she wrote 16 years after the end of Mr. Eisenhower’s Presidency and seven years after his death. “The General is dead. I am dying. When I wrote Eisenhower was my boss in 1948, I omitted many things, changed some details, glossed over others to disguise as best I could the intimacy that had grown between General Eisenhower and me. It was better that way.”
    President Truman recalled that Eisenhower had written to General George C. Marshall, saying that he wanted to return from Europe to the United States to get a divorce from his wife, Mamie, and marry Summersby. According to this account, General Marshall threatened to run General Eisenhower “out of the Army” and prevent him from “ever drawing a peaceful breath.”

  4. Actually, the basic problem of human sexuality is that we share about 96 to 99 percent of our genes or DNA with our ape cousins, depending on the chosen metric. At least humans have developed social constraints to rein in some (especially) male impulses. Without those constraints, the world might be even more screwed (sic) up.

  5. smehiel, Saul, and Frey:

    Your quip, “Of course, when the left’s agenda is to promote immoral behavior,” is the most ironic of all your quips when considered in the context of Trump’s, and now the Republican Party’s, endorsement and renewed funding of a child molester’s, i.e., Roy Moore’s, Senate candidacy. The Republican Party of Lincoln can now be declared officially dead.

  6. smemhiel wrote, above: “Of course, when the left’s agenda is to promote immoral behavior, take God out of everything, condone sex at an early age, births out of wedlock and abortions, should we really be so surprised that men in power think they can get away with just about anything?”

    How ironic that a “God person,” Roy Moore, is likely to win the Alabama Senate race after he was banned from a shopping mall because of predatory behavior toward young girls and after the certain sexual molestation of a 14-year-old girl. I realize that this is not typical of evangelicals, but how can Moore’s Christian supporters ignore all this simply because he uses the Bible as a political crutch?

    • “Certain sexual molestation”? I guess you know something noone else does (and I hope he doesn’t sue the pants off you.) What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Or have you ordained yourself judge, jury, and executioner?

  7. Mark Mucher: The fact that a “certain” sexual harasser and misogynist (Trump) has endorsed Roy Moore says it all, but not quite. Moore was banned from a local mall because of his predatory behavior, another fact. The chance that Moore will sue me is remote, to say the least.

  8. Change the subject when caught, why don’t you? You said “the certain sexual molestation” like it was a well-known, proven fact.

  9. There are two prominent justifications for Alabamian’s loyalty toward Roy Moore that I have seen in interviews of his supporters. One is to compare Moore’s well-documented paedolphila with Bill Clinton’s well-documented sexual predation of adults. Both are actions committed by despicable men, but I fail to see the immoral equivalency. The other justification is to claim that Moore’s actions occurred in the distant past when adult/minor relationships were socially acceptable (i.e., my mother was married at age 14 and had two kids by the age of 16), or “those women are lying.” Yet, they say Bill Clinton’s accusers are telling the truth.

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