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Sexual Harassment - Not!

By Mike Brown
July 20, 1998
Reprinted with permission from author

Paula Jones (possible pawn of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy - a conspiracy so vast and powerful that it failed to keep the Clintons out of the Oval Office - again): Not harassed.

"Judge Susan Webber Wright's ruling dismissing Paula Jones' complaint against Bill Clinton certainly gives lie to the right-wing charge that anti-discrimination laws have gone too far. And it shoots down the tired complaint that a man can't even compliment a woman at work anymore. Jones alleges that Clinton ran his hand up her thigh, exposed himself to her, asked for oral sex and pointedly reminded her of his friendship with her immediate boss. No woman should have to put up with such behavior at work. But according to the judge, even if then-Governor Bill Clinton propositioned and pawed then-state employee Paula Jones -- certainly misconduct for any employer or supervisor, Jones does not have a valid harassment claim because she could not prove that the overall result was a hostile work environment. " - Patricia Ireland, NOW President, April 2, 1998 concerning the dismissal of the Paula Jones case.

This takes us back a while, to April and those whacky, crazy days of early spring. Everyone was just getting to know Presidential groupie Monica Lewinsky, we (the right thinkers) were still pondering Judge Wright's turfing of the Paula Jones case, and they (the left thinkers) were still having it both ways (except for Nina Burleigh, who prefers to give more than to receive), when it came to sexual harrassment in the work place.

From October 1991, when Anita Hill took Clarence Thomas to task, until 1994 when Paula Jones filed her lawsuit against President Bill Clinton, we were lead to believe that ALL sexual harrassment was to be taken seriously, and that ALL women who claimed subjection to this sort of activity - i.e., unwanted sexual advances - should have their day in court. Women weren't going to take it anymore and that's all there was to it. You got that, pal? The womens' movement had stomped it's collective little feet.

Court cases claiming sexual harrassment increased from 1,500 in 1990 to almost 15,000 in 1994 (Thanks, Anita!), but less than a decade after the "Year of the Woman" and the tide of angry women that carried Bill Clinton to the Whitehouse, the credibility of the liberal feminists war on sexual harrassment - so deliberate and forceful during the 1991 television season - seems now lacking, or at least horribly inconsistent. It's not unreasonable to assume this lack of enthusiasm on their part has now altered some womens' perception of "sexual harrassment" in the workplace.

Certainly, the dropping of the Jones' case shouldn't mean that female employees should have surveillance cameras installed in their cubicles. On the other hand, the dropping of the President's pants, and the lack of support for those claiming such harrassment, might be enough to warrant such a rash measure. Unless you have incontrovertible proof that the President has displayed his charms to you, you don't have a case, and therefore, you do not have support.

But is this always the case? No.

Kimberly Ellerth (despite similar allegations against her employer to those of Paula Jones): harassed

"No boss should get away with making unwelcome sexual advances and threatening a woman's job status, even if he doesn't actually carry out his threats when she refuses. Sexual misconduct hurts women in the workplace; the boss who paws, propositions and warns of retaliation takes away a woman's dignity . . . even if he doesn't take away her job. He denies her respect. . . even if he doesn't deny her a promotion or a raise...Kimberly Ellerth charges that she endured a steady stream of sexual harassment from her supervisor's boss, including pats on the buttocks, offensive sexual remarks and the threat that he could make her work life "very hard or very easy."...They used to say that every dog gets one free bite, but that does not apply to men in the workplace -- and we intend to make sure employers get that message loud and clear: Zero tolerance is what women have a right to expect. And we intend to make whatever changes are necessary in the laws and regulations to make sure that there are teeth in those laws." Patricia Ireland, NOW President, April 22, 1998 concerning the BURLINGTON INDUSTRIES v. ELLERTH, case before the courts at that time.

So we're back to the "pre-Paula" days, when any and all women making claims of sexual harrassment ought to have their day in court. Burlington Industries - the very name implies factory floors, smokestacks, assembly lines, and (ick!) male dominance. It's Corporate America, home of the glass ceiling, randy boardroom humour, and sexually charged chat 'round the water cooler.

So why does the liberal feminist movement support one woman's case over that of another, despite the obvious similarities? If I have to make a guess, I'd say it's abortion rights, the single most important topic of liberal feminists (despite it's relative unimportance to everyday people).

Bill Clinton would never dream of threatening abortion availability - even with a Republican congress - if only because he fears the backlash from the women who have thus far supported him, including his wife. Wavering, he could no longer escape the escapades for which he has thus far avoided answering: adultery, Whitewater, Willey, Jones, Lewinsky, et al.

There are still two years left in the President's current term. That's plenty of time for him to get into more trouble; no doubt someone, somewhere, will claim Bill Clinton harassed them, intimidated them, or had an affair with them. It will be interesting to see, as we get closer to the end of the Clinton Whitehouse and he is no longer useful to liberal feminists, just how easily he escapes the law - again.