The delicious comeuppance of men who use their power for sex | Ronnie Polaneczky
What, you think it's unseemly to enjoy the humiliating comeuppance of these men? Spare me.
Well, hello there! Please join me as I pour a second cup of coffee and bite into a doughnut, the better to relish the week's delicious news:
Michael Oreskes has quit his job as senior VP of news and editorial director at National Public Radio in the wake of allegations that he's a hound-dog pig.
Repeat after me: Sip. Chew. Cackle.
According to the Washington Post, two women separately alleged that when Oreskes was a New York Times bureau chief, he subjected them to "unwanted physical contact" when they met with him to discuss job prospects. Each woman said that in lieu of a friendly "Goodbye, let's stay in touch," the Times bigwig shoved his tongue in her mouth.
To paraphrase the Times' motto: Talk about all the eews that's fit to print.
One of the women said she confronted Oreskes two months later, telling him his behavior had been "totally inappropriate." He allegedly responded, shocked: "I was overcome with passion. I couldn't help myself."
So, what, she should be flattered?
The allegations rocked NPR. The network had already formally rebuked Oreskes once, in 2015, for getting all sex-talky with a young female employee who'd met with him over dinner for career advice. Once NPR heard of Oreskes' alleged creepiness while at the Times, it had no choice but to put him on leave while it investigated whether that icky dinner was a lone incident.
Within hours, Oreskes resigned.
Sip. Chew. Cackle.
What, you think it's unseemly to enjoy this humiliating comeuppance for Oreskes, 63, a married dad whose wife and kids must feel like vomiting right now?
What's unseemly is how routinely women are subjected to workplace pawing from powerful men. And how frustrating it can be for women who complain to have little say about whether and how the perp is punished.
As local employment-rights attorney Alice Ballard noted in an Inquirer Q&A last week, when it comes to workplace harassment, "HR is not your friend. Their job is to do damage control for the company. They decide whether to take on an investigation and how that investigation is run. If you complain, you'll do it at great personal cost, though you will benefit the women who come after you."
So, how sweet it is to see Oreskes lose his job.
How satisfying to see movie mogul Harvey Weinstein lose his marriage, his Hollywood standing, and the power he leveraged to allegedly sexually assault and rape women who naively believed he cared about them as actors.
How sublime to know that NBC talking head Mark Halperin lost his job, book contract, and lucrative deals with HBO and Showtime after five women accused him of treating them like blow-up dolls when they worked with him at ABC.
How rich to see Amazon Studios head Roy Price resign just days after a producer publicly accused him of repeated, lewd harassment.
And how stunning it is to read more headlines, nearly every day since news broke of Weinstein's piggery, of more alleged harassment and assault.
And actor Dustin Hoffman has publicly apologized for groping and talking filthy in 1985 to a high school senior named Anna Graham Hunter, who interned on the set of his film Death of a Salesman.
Hoffman was 48, Hunter was just 17. In an essay last week for the Hollywood Reporter, Hunter describes unrelenting lewd encounters with Hoffman, which she detailed in a handwritten diary from way back then.
A photographed page from the diary, included in the Reporter piece, reads: Today this business got scarier. Or at least less appealing. This morning when I asked Dustin what he wanted for breakfast, he said something that beat even his lows. It was worse than anything anyone has ever said to me on the street. It was so gross I couldn't say anything. I just turned around and walked out.
Hunter's curly, girlish script makes the entry especially heartbreaking.
Defenders of Hoffman and his dirty bros will say: "Those were different times. The culture was different. You can't blame these guys for what was the norm back then."
Actually, you can. Because not every man with power used it back then or uses it today to violate young women who deserve to be treated as more than comely faces or shapely bodies.
Good men get that. Bad men have gotten away with pretending not to.
But not anymore.
Sip. Chew. Cackle.