It’s inevitable. If your head is sticking up above the crowd, someone is going to want to chop it off – and there have been more rounds of “me too” madness. Keep in mind it doesn’t matter what “side” you are on:
The thing is, it’s not just high-profile artists or celebrities that have this happen to them.
IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU, TOO.
I’ve had several friends in the teaching profession (which I myself was in for more than 10 years) get accused of misconduct ranging from sexual affairs to “harassment” – and in some of these cases, it was literally impossible for the accusations to be true.
And yet, these men suffered as a result. Some lost licenses, some lost jobs, some just got reprimands and warnings. It happens in the corporate world, too, probably even more.
There are two causes you need to concern yourself with (and I am directing this primarily toward males – this almost never happens to women):
- Society’s natural disgust with sex crimes combined with the social power given to victims
- Women’s liberation / feminism
You only need to concern yourself with these causes insomuch as you intend to avoid being accused yourself.
People naturally revile sexual predation. Our society is and has been highly sensitive to it. We (rightfully in most cases) view sexual predators as a clear danger to our children and community that must be removed. While this is good for the swift and rigorous pursuit of justice, it also affords an opportunity for the less-than-scrupulous to gain attention, avoid consequences, or punish enemies. It’s first an opportunity.
The false side of “Me Too” isn’t just a case of vain or corrupt women accusing men for revenge or attention, it’s the natural fruit of the sexual revolution begun in the 1960s.
Women have been transformed from the “Fairer Sex” into sexual objects and “female men” by the process of sexual liberation. Women are told they should be like men and are rewarded in the short-term for it. The biggest fruit of feminism is a reduction in the respect, care, protection, and (in this case) trust of women by trying to make them freely sexually available for men.
Men’s behavior towards women is matched to what they are seeking and receiving from them. The problem is that this is artificial and many, if not most woman will not feel good being treated like an object for sexual conquest or as “one of the boys.”
It’s “equal” to make gross jokes around women, but it is one of many things that you must avoid if you want to be safe in the current environment as a male professional. It’s “progressive” to seek casual sex with a female acquaintance, but it is something that could come back to bite you in the ass.
Basically, men must adopt the Pence rule:
This is the approach we must adopt, for better or worse, going forward.
Going back to my experience as a teacher, every single man I knew who ran into issues failed to at least cover his own ass in a few ways. They saw students one-on-one. They let students have their cell number (common among band directors, who have to coordinate lots of students outside of school hours, but still a very bad idea). They did things like give students rides home, or let them hang out in the classroom during lunch.
These are all opportunities. So the first thing you must do is remove the opportunities for false accusations to arise:
- Don’t ever meet one-on-one with a woman or (ideally) anyone that is lower pay-grade than you, even if male. Meet in groups of 2-3 if it is a business lunch or dinner, or invite more than one person into your office at a time.
- Don’t let underlings (or students) have your personal information, if at all possible. No social media, no cell phones. You don’t want to be the teacher who gets a racy picture from a student, or the manager who gets sexted by the new female hire and has to figure out what to do.
- If possible, ensure that you yourself are visible to others at all times. Keep your office door open, have lunch with colleagues, and work during normal business hours.
The point is to make it impossible for you to have an opportunity for misconduct of any kind. You should have nothing that you have to explain. The bonus is that if there is ever a revenge accusation, your ass is covered.
“No, I was never alone with her, because I’m never alone with anyone. I never close my office door. I leave at 5 and go home to my wife. I always have lunch with Bill or Robert – you can ask them. We only ever ate with her in a group. No, I didn’t make a pass at her at the conference, there were ten other people there who can tell you that.”
The other half of prevention is managing your own behavior around women:
- Don’t make any jokes of a sexual nature around coworkers – ever.
- Don’t flirt with coworkers of the opposite sex – ever.
- Don’t be a creep to women who you do date or who you meet socially.
- Don’t seek casual sex or attempt to manipulate women into sleeping with you.
Basically, be a gentleman. Aziz Ansari was pegged not because he was a rapist, but because he was incredibly creepy and weird during a consensual encounter. He made the woman feel uncomfortable, bad about herself, and in the end, like she was taken advantage of. The truth is, he probably did take advantage of her on some level. It doesn’t make him a rapist or sexual predator, just a man of poor taste.
Don’t be a man of poor taste. Don’t do or say things that could be construed negatively.
I write this not as some superior being, but as a fellow sinner. I wised up to the reality of false accusations over a decade ago, and it was because of the unfortunate circumstances I witnessed in others that I changed my behavior and upped my professional game. You can, too. Save the jokes for the boys, just like how it used to be.
Let me also say this shouldn’t be about looking upon all women as potential enemies. Rather, we (men) should look upon women as women, not as locker-room buddies, and treat them with professional distance and respect. There is no reason men and women can’t get along in a suitably professional and neutral space – but it must be actually neutral.
The impact of an accusation – even a false one – is potentially crippling, while the benefits of casual relationships with coworkers are minimal. Make sure to keep yourself covered.
And be a gentleman.
I’ve published a bunch of books now (like 13?), and one of them is on the process I use to keep up consistent creative output. Check it out now!