Neil DeGrasse Tyson and the Sexual Witch Hunt


Neil DeGrasse Tyson is one of the latest public figures facing allegations of sexual misconduct – has it truly become a witch hunt?

First, I would like to point out that suggesting we are getting into witch hunt territory is not a statement about women making allegations in the first place. It is entirely about how the entertainment industry and society as a whole is reacting to those allegations.

In the case of DeGrasse Tyson, based on what information is currently available, it appears that we really are looking at a “he said, she said” situation. Legally, that can mean that no one will ever know the complete truth, or there will never be any tangible or witness evidence to prove the allegations.

While it is important to listen to women when they make allegations of sexual misconduct, we also need to spend some time thinking about what that actually means. Right now, it’s becoming a highly subjective scale of behaviors that are solely defined by the feelings of the women involved. Basically, if someone says or does something to or around a woman, it makes her feel uncomfortable in any way, and it can be construed to have even the slightest sexual connotation, it can be called “sexual misconduct.”

That means really bad pick-up lines at cocktail parties could fall under this category. Or, in the case of DeGrasse Tyson, exceedingly clumsy flirting could be included. (I am not addressing the allegation of sexual assault during his college years in this description.)

It is good that we’re starting to have conversations about appropriate behavior and interpersonal relationships, but immediately leaping to punishing people for past alleged wrong-doings before there are any investigations definitely isn’t acceptable. What is making it worse is the fact that we are littering our media outlets with headlines about these situations without providing real context for the next generations. Bluntly, I am tired of hearing my teenage son tell me that he is avoiding dating in high school not only because he doesn’t want the drama, but also because he doesn’t want to end up like one of those guys in the headlines because he tried to grope a girl in a movie theater.

Now, if we’ve reached the point where we think that the teenage rites of passage that include “testing the sexual waters” are wrong, then this “guilty as soon as there’s an allegation” attitude is fine. But, no matter what, if we don’t start shifting the conversation toward teaching our children what is appropriate behavior in schools, then all of this is for naught.

We won’t change how women and men treat each other unless we stop thinking that we can rely on parents to teach their kids about sex. The men who are being accused of misdeeds now come from generations that didn’t have sex-ed that included anything beyond the basic anatomy and avoidance of disease and hopefully pregnancy. They didn’t learn how not to be a creep. They didn’t learn how to talk to women in a positive way. There weren’t any lessons on how to ask for permission to engage in sexual activities. There definitely weren’t any classes on reading body language and other non-verbal cues. It’s also worth noting that they were raised in households during the era when this nation generally didn’t have laws against spousal rape, so it’s entirely possible that they literally learned bad behavior in the home.

That said, we also have to remember that many of these women making allegations were not raised to know there is such a thing as personal boundaries in the workplace. They worked in an industry that has a long standing reputation for encouraging women to “sleep their way to the top”. Yes, we are trying to put an end to that, but it’s not going to happen overnight.

Now, if it becomes clear that DeGrasse Tyson truly did do what has been alleged, then it’s time to talk about punishing him. The same should apply to everyone else. But, we really need to avoid going this route:


Yes, that means some people who really did bad things may end up walking away unscathed. But, that’s the deal we made with our justice system and society in general. There are reasons why we say “innocent, until proven guilty”. Operating under the presumption of guilt is how they do things in authoritarian regimes, not here. Also, ask yourselves, how do you prove that you didn’t do something when there were no witnesses other than your accuser? We’re all appalled by laws overseas that insist a woman must have a few men bear witness for them when they accuse someone of rape. But, we’re fine with the idea of saying men must come up with witnesses to prove they didn’t rape someone?

Rape is wrong. Sexual harassment is wrong. Punishing people without due process is wrong. Failing to teach our young how to stop the cycle of sexual violence is the greatest wrong we can do right now. You want it to stop? Work on that.

As for DeGrasse Tyson? Maybe the networks worrying about whether or not they should air his programs should just put them out there. Let the viewers decide. Go back to the negotiating table with him, and have him sign a contract stating that he won’t benefit financially from his work to date anymore if the allegations are proven to be true. After all, that’s really what this is about, isn’t it? It’s all about the money. If he did wrong, let him pay for it with cash. If the networks really want to look good, give money that would have gone to proven perpetrators to their victims. Leave the programming out there. If the people know the guilty stars aren’t getting the paycheck if they watch, they might still turn it on. If they know the victims are getting the profits, maybe that will show what the public really thinks about supporting them.


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Source: Subculture

Neil DeGrasse Tyson and the Sexual Witch Hunt

Sexual Assault, Harassment, and ‘Me Too’


Alyssa Milano opened the proverbial can of worms by posting on Twitter:

This lead to an avalanche of “Me too” posts on social media in general, not just Twitter. Many women started describing what they have endured in their lives – sexual harassment and assaults – and many people started getting upset about the two being placed together. While it is true that the definitions of both sexual harassment and sexual assault have been more than a little muddied in recent years, the fact remains that both behaviors are rooted in a lack of respect for women.

We probably do need to have discussions about whether or not certain behaviors and situations really are sexual harassment or sexual assault, but we also have to agree on the concept that any behavior that is rooted in patent disrespect for women in general is unacceptable. Note “in general” in that statement. Disrespecting a specific person because that person has behaved badly is not verboten, nor should it be. Disrespecting women simply because they are female is unacceptable.

Most of the complaints out there about the “Me too” posts are centered on politics or annoyance with women who claim to feel that they have been victims of harassment or assault, but when they tell their stories, it doesn’t seem all that terrible. On the political end, there shouldn’t be “left” or “right” on the issue. There is, but for the purposes here, there is no point to wasting time or words on the political arguments.

The women who are calling actions sexual harassment or sexual assault, but have some people who disagree with them? There lies a problem that needs addressing. It is a Frankenstein monster created by helicopter parents, radical feminists, ministers, and many others. It is a symptom of our society, and how we view women and sex. Because it is a societal problem, one would think that it would be wise to consult a sociologist or social psychologist on this matter, but one response I saw that summed up the problem succinctly came from a lawyer on Facebook:

First of all, the number of women I follow Twitter and Facebook who have shared their stories of sexual assault or harassment, in some cases apparently for the first time, has been alarming and eye-opening. Since graduating law school, I’ve worked alongside women who were subordinates, opposing counsel and other fellow attorneys, bosses, Judges, and in a wide variety of other roles. I also have many female friends on social media and in the real world who I’m able to get along with quite well without acting like a jerk who didn’t grow out of being a frat boy in college. I was always aware that behavior like what has been described in many of these posts occurred, but I’ve never witnessed it (as far as I know) nor did I realize how widespread it is. I’m betting many other men didn’t either.

Second, it’s always seemed very simple to me. Sexual assault of any kind is always wrong, and excuses for harassing behavior like “I was drunk,” “She was drunk,” or “No means yes” are never acceptable. As far as sexual harassment goes, no means no, and there is no justification for someone to make those kinds of advances in a professional setting, especially when one is in a position of power over another person such as in the employment situation. There’s also no excuse for such unwanted behavior outside the office.

Finally, I’ve seen several men commenting or posting in response in dismissive tones regarding these disclosures, and that is just as disturbing as the reports themselves. “Boys will be boys” is not an excuse for acting like a boorish jerk, and the fact that a woman isn’t interested in you isn’t a reason to treat her like crap. Additionally, dismissing the reports that are being posted as some kind of social media fad is, well, kind of pathetic, as is the excuse that the campaign is somehow an attack on all men, which it clearly isn’t. Stop acting like jerks, guys. It’s as simple as that.

That was written by Doug Mataconis from Outside the Beltway. He stripped the issue down to its bare bones, and that is the start point for finding a solution. Our biggest problem in dealing with sexual assault and sexual harassment is that we have allowed the “powers that be” to over complicate the matter. The problem really is the fact that we are failing at educating our children about respect, and sex. Creating a web of taboos out of what should be clear and concise lessons about intimate relationships isn’t working. Suggesting that anything is free game when it comes to sex and sexuality isn’t helping either. While all the supposed adults in the room are arguing about what the kids should or shouldn’t learn about all that “icky” sex stuff, the kids aren’t learning the most basic lessons about survival as human beings. They aren’t being taught how to interact with each other in respectful ways, particularly in intimate relationships. That is the real root of the problem.

So, do we continue arguing about what is (or isn’t) sexual assault and sexual harassment based on the reports of the women who used the “Me too” statement on social media, or is it time for us to start teaching kids how to respect themselves and each other? Sure, that won’t help current and past victims, but it definitely will help to reduce the number of victims in the next generations.


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Source: Subculture

Sexual Assault, Harassment, and ‘Me Too’