Q: I've sued this type many times when I represented sexual harassment
victims. Mr. I'm-Above-the-Rules, Mr. I-Want-It-So-I-Take-It, Mr.
Apologizing-Without-Apologizing. They're all hands and no conscience.
I'm sick because I know that most people will buy his "rowdy" and
"flirtatious" deflections and ignore the seriousness of these claims.
"Rowdy?" Hardly. Rowdy is drinking too much beer and singing loudly
and off-key at a ball game. Maybe cursing out the umpire. Flirtatious?
Are you insane?
A: These aren't technical distinctions. As a sexual harassment lawyer, I sat with high-ranking executive women as they pulled dozens of Kleenex out of the box on my desk, their pain, frustration and anger pouring out of them. Waitresses, secretaries, lawyers, bank officers, even a court reporter who had her crotch grabbed by a judge, all twisted up inside as to how to handle the aftermath. The agonizing part for everyone was the powerlessness, the frustration. They believed in the rules that said, if they were qualified for a job, showed up on time, and worked hard, they would succeed. The rule that only the lovers they selected were allowed to talk dirty to them or touch them intimately. The lesson of the powerful guy's hand up your T-shirt is that those rules are a joke. The star gets away with laughing at tears because there are no good options for a woman on the receiving end of Arnold's beefy paws. I believe Arnold when he says he doesn't remember some of these incidents. Why would he remember? Grabbing a woman's breasts or buttocks, yanking off her clothing in an elevator, meant nothing to him. I believe the women who remember the incidents, because these events loom large to us. We replay them in our minds over and over again, trying to figure out what we should have done, fantasizing revenge scenarios, cursing the fact that we were caught off guard and didn't think quickly enough at the time. We tell our friends and spouses and agree the safest course is not to report.
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