It caught me by surprise. One night the program was listed as Charlie Rose. The next night it became “To be Announced.”
When I learned that three CBS employees had accused Charlie Rose of sexual harassment, I was stunned. One of my favorite programs had disappeared: A plain round table, one or two intelligent guests, one attentive interviewer, all discussing what was going on in the world. It was as if the Rock of Gibraltar had sunk below the ocean. How Charlie Rose responded to the accusation was equally shocking. He was “embarrassed,” not contrite. As though you had caught him with his makeup not yet on and not camera-ready.
The present wave of indignation started when the film producer Harvey Weinstein was discovered to have systematically abused his position of power by forcing
Vulnerable actresses to cater to his sexual fantasies. Weinstein fell abruptly and conclusively. It took one courageous woman to create a landslide and the movement #MeToo was aloft.
Embarrassment, shame and the fear of losing their employment or social position had hitherto kept women enslaved to the whims of the first sex. Now allegations of misconduct in the business and entertainment worlds are emerging every day.
Lin Farley had coined the phrase “sexual harassment” in 1975 to refer to this workplace dependency. Some legislation followed, but culture changes much more slowly than the law. Before all this brouhaha, we had already witnessed the fall of that idol of popular culture Bill Cosby. His television image of the very model of the paterfamilias and dispenser of armchair wisdom, creator of Fat
Albert and other funny characters collapsed abruptly and morphed into the bloated monster of depravity who forced women into submission and raped them. Both Weinstein and Cosby insisted that the sex was consensual.
And who remembers Dominique Strauss Kahn, former head of the International Monetary fund? In 2011 he was accused by a New York hotel maid of sexually assaulting her. He settled the civil action case which ensued by paying her 6 million dollars. In the process he lost his position and his wife but is apparently pursuing his merry and predatory way of life as if nothing was amiss,
And now let us turn to the man presently occupying the Oval Office. He it was who boasted on television of groping staffers, fondling women and other gross behavior. He is also the man who repeatedly assaulted Hilary Clinton by chanting “Lock her up!” when he is the one who
should be sitting in a dark dungeon. Who will rid us of this hideous creature?
It is a good development that women now feel freer to reveal the indignities they have had to endure, it is also good that some men will think twice before engaging in this reprehensible conduct. But nothing permanent will be achieved until a critical mass of women achieves positions of power and more women reach out to their sisters and help them to places of dignity and security.