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!
It’s unbelievable (yet totally unsurprising) that we live in a time when such a thing has to be said. Sure, steps can be taken to minimize or avoid entirely the risk of being #metoo’d, but it’s just an absolute shame that it’s at all necessary in the first place. Guilty until proven innocent. Believe all women, even in the face of an absolute lack of evidence. Scary times. Thanks for your thoughts on the matter. Luckily I’m in rural Kentucky where sanity and faith still hold sway, but I genuinely worry for people in other areas. I hope your advice can help some folks protect themselves.
Absolutely, but we shouldn’t forget the second part of my thesis – many of these “me too” moments are actually women being upset about a man’s social behavior, not anything even approximating sexual violence, though the two end up being treated as equal. Most of the men being “accused” were just missing social cues, being inappropriate, or trying to score with tricks. Avoid doing that and you cancel a great deal of risk.
True, it’s usually nothing but a means to destroy or slander someone regardless of their original intent, sexual or not. Honestly, it’s both disgusting and concerning how little the accusers seem to care that their false allegations may very well lead to the complete destruction of someone’s livelihood simply because they said or did something potentially inappropriate or merely irritating, if they did anything at all.
Can’t help but wonder how much damage social media is doing to us all. Seems like it serves to exacerbate every flaw and sin we have. It’s certainly made this specific problem a good deal worse. As always, I’m praying for our species and our nation. Thanks again for your insights. God bless.
Excellent advice. I’m fortunate that I work from home. Thus I’m less vulnerable but still have to vigilant. However in the past I’ve worked outside and working with women has made me far more wary precisely because of the potential false accusations/misunderstandings.
I’m to the point where I really wonder if women working at a company has really benefitted women. In fact, the situation hasn’t contributed to the common good
Yes, I work from home now, too, so it’s less of an issue.
The big question of whether working out of the home has benefited women has been answered, at least as far as the “general” qualities of the group go… almost 25% of women over 40 are on antidepressants. Somewhere along the way, everyone got confused about the difference between “can” and “should.”
A member of the daycare generation.
Thanks for your reply I was the very last generation that had a stay at home mom. Sure she volunteered alot but she was home when my brothers and me came home.
I really lament my own kids don’t have this benefit. In my case I lived in a country that’s a hyper competitive authoritarian country.
And I hated the inability of one parent home.
Excellent article. I applaud your precision in framing this problem from a realistic perspective without sounding unnecessarily alarmist. Your clear form of expression lacking in sophism is a rather refreshing take, and your more nuanced views are indeed worth taking note of. I do find myself wondering about the applicability of this advice outside of the anglosphere or even the United States. As I imagine you already know, different countries favor a different form of interaction between the sexes. I come from a Mediterranean country and currently reside in it, so perhaps this article doesn’t quite represent the reality as of this moment in my place of birth. However, something that I have observed over time has been how welcoming my countrymen are of American customs over time, thus, I cannot help but envision this article becoming more and more relevant even in a culture like mine. Thus, I intend to keep it fully in mind. My relationship with women has been fairly amicable and, despite Spain being a very feminist country, most women I’ve interacted with in the college I currently attend, have shown themselves to be as comfortable with sexual innuendos, crass humor and other ungentlemanly customs. I can’t help but this this phenomenon rather intriguing.
Summarizing; excellent job!
Signed, a young student from a rather different context.