Another Profile of a Modern American Woman

This story appears in the New York Times:

I was 37, single, unemployed and depressed because in a couple of months I was going to be moving out of my studio apartment on East 23rd Street in Manhattan and in with my mother in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. Since taking a buyout at my Wall Street firm, I had devoted myself to two activities: searching for a new job and working out. And I spent a lot of time in my apartment.

One day historians will come up with a term for the cohort of women who thought Sex and the City was a documentary providing lifestyle advice.

My 23rd Street building was near three colleges. When I signed the lease, I didn’t realize the place had so many student renters, people who understandably liked to party. Yet it was the least social time in my life. Most of my friends were married. I had no income, and rent was almost $3,000 a month. I wasn’t dating because I hadn’t figured out how to positively spin my unemployment story.

That’s why you weren’t dating? Uh-huh. Sure.

One afternoon in the elevator, I saw one of the guys from next door in jeans and a T-shirt, his dark hair slightly receding.

“How old are you guys?” I said. “Like, 23?”

“Yeah, well, I’m 23,” he said.

“I’m 37. So I hope you get a younger neighbor the next go-round.”

“I never would have guessed 37,” he said. “I thought you were, like, 26.”

Was he sweet-talking me? I looked the same age as my friends, but maybe the dormlike context had fooled him.

37-year old doesn’t know when a young shitlord is dishing out flattering comments about her age in order to see if she’d be up for a shag. Later, we’ll find out this woman worked in HR and has a Masters in Psychology.

Two weeks later, my friend Diana and I were sitting at a nearby bar, drinking vodka sodas and looking at her Tinder app, when my 23-year-old neighbor popped up.

“Swipe right!” I said. “Tell him you’re out with me.”

She swiped, they matched, and she told him I was with her. I followed up with a text, proud to be out on a Saturday night. Here was proof that I, too, was fun.

Growing old is compulsory. Growing old with dignity is very much optional.

We messaged back and forth; he was on his way home. When I asked if he wanted to join us back at my apartment, he said yes.

I bet he did.

Twenty minutes later Diana and I arrived, and he showed up with a bottle of vodka and cans of Diet Coke.

Some women get given flowers.

Soon he was laughing, saying, “My roommates can’t stand you. And I was always so confused why a 26-year-old was upset about our parties. I thought you were just an old soul.”

As if a 26-year old working in New York doesn’t need to get their head down at night.

Diana and I danced to “Jump” by the Pointer Sisters, a song he didn’t recognize. Before Diana left at 4 a.m., she whispered to me, “He likes you. Hook up.”

Ah, where would women be without the advice of their best friend?

I offered a hushed protest, insisting he was too young. But apparently the neighborly tension had been building, because he and I started kissing right after she left.

When we woke up, hung over, a few hours later, I begged him not to tell his roommates. My transformation from puritanical noise warden to Mrs. Robinson embarrassed me; my dulled brain screamed, “What just happened?”

But I won’t lie: It was also an ego boost. I may not have had a job, a husband or a boyfriend, but at least I could attract an adorable 23-year-old.

Doesn’t take much to boost the ego of a woman pushing forty in New York, does it? Flatter her by lying about her age, match with her mate on Tinder, then turn up at her door with a bottle of vodka. Frankly, most women who aren’t utterly hideous could attract a 23-year old, even an adorable one. What is more difficult is encouraging them to stick around afterwards.

Over the next few weeks, we texted constantly and kept getting together to talk about our dating and employment searches and to fool around. When I asked him if I seemed older, he said, “Not really. Mostly because you aren’t working and you’re around all of the time.”

Not only did she believe him, she recounted it in the New York Times.

I said: “When I graduated high school, you were 4.”

Okay, so…

With him, my usual romantic anxiety disappeared. Instead of projecting my insecurities onto him…

By, for instance, constantly bringing up the age gap?

…and wondering if I was enough, I just had fun because I knew our age gap made a future impossible. And I was moving out soon.

Not that my mind was entirely free of concerns. I worried people would think we were ridiculous. But when I told my coupled-up girlfriends, they said I was living a fantasy.

The first paragraph is rather inconsistent with the first. Was she really having fun, or pouring out her anxiety to everyone she met?

“At least you’re having fun,” a soon-to-be-divorced friend said. “None of us are. I didn’t even want to touch my husband at the end.”

Can we hear from the husband?

Even so, the chasm between my new friend and me was no more glaring than when he said, “Dating is fun. I get to meet lots of people.”

Here’s a tip, ladies: trawling through Tinder looking for a shag is a lot more fun for a 23-year old man than a 37-year old woman.

Dating, for me, was about as fun as my job search. And that was because I approached both in almost exactly the same way: with a strategy, spreadsheets and a lot of anxiety about presenting my best self and hiding my weaknesses.

Including a 277 bullet-point list of requirements every partner must satisfy.

Our honest exchange was so refreshing. Dates my age disguised their fears with arrogance. Within an hour of meeting me, one had boasted about the amount of sex he’d had, and another, on our second date, gave me a heads-up that his large size had caused many of his relationships to end. How considerate of him to warn me!

This is a useful illustration of the dating pool which 37-year old New York women can expect to swim around in. What, there’s no Mr Big in his limousine?

With appropriate romantic prospects, I had been overly polished and protective. Just like the men, I spun stories broadcasting fake confidence.

Those with genuine confidence got their lives in order a decade previously.

But I confided in my neighbor about how hard the year had been and how worried I was about finding a job and a man to love.

Can we check with Manhattan hospitals whether a 23-year old male was admitted over the past year having gnawed off his own arm and survived a three-storey jump from a window?

With nothing at stake, I was charmingly vulnerable.

Or, more accurately, desperate.

One evening as we cuddled in my apartment, with me droning on about my man troubles and career fears, he said, “We get so fixated on the job we want or the person we’re dating because we don’t think there will be another. But there’s always another.”

Sounds as though he had one lined up already.

I thought that was so true. Even wise. But it’s easier to have that attitude, about jobs or love, at 23 than at 37.

I suspect the reason you’re in this predicament at 37 is because you blithely assumed “there will always be another” when you were in your 20s. Wise? Hardly.

Then one night I came home a little too drunk…

Such larks! Only she’s 37 and miserably single. Any idea why?

…and encountered him in the hallway. He was the one who almost always decided when we would hang out, and I complained it wasn’t fair that everything seemed to be on his terms. I was pressuring him, reverting to my worst dating default behavior, and he fled into his apartment.

I’d love to hear the conversation that transpired with his mates after this.

The next day he texted: “maybe we should chill with this. you’ve been a good friend … we complicated it a little though haha.”

This is what’s known as being dumped. By text. How’s that ego holding up?

I knew “haha” was just his millennial way of keeping it light, but here’s the thing: In our “light” relationship, I had let myself be fully known, revealing all of my imperfections, in a way I normally didn’t. With him I was my true self, and it was a revelation.

Is that how you’re gonna spin it? Okay, but recall that the woman who shagged her way around Europe ended her article by saying how much she’d learned from each one-night stand and how it taught her she didn’t need a partner to be happy. I’m about as convinced this time around.

And a conundrum. Because I can’t seem to be my true self when I’m seriously looking for love, when all I’m thinking about is the future. To win the person (or the job, for that matter), we think we have to be the most perfect version of ourselves. When our hearts are on the line, vulnerability can feel impossible.

No wonder sonny-boy scarpered and locked himself in his flat if this is what he had to listen to after each sweaty, drink-fuelled romp. I expect he’s using the fire escape for general egress these days.

I followed up this article by doing some research on the author, and her career history is illuminating:

– English Degree

– Masters in Clinical Psychology

– 5 years in HR, holding onto a position for a maximum of 2 years and 5 months

– 4 years Vice President Equities COO, including “Led projects in business strategy, communications, morale building, hiring, placement, and training”

In short, she’s an HR power-skirt who hopped from one job to another and somehow ended up as a VP in Equities leading projects in business strategy at a major bank. One can imagine what the real bankers thought of her elevation to this post.

What’s amusing, at least to me, is that the car-crash of an article coupled with her career history ticks just about every stereotype I can think of. All that’s missing is a few more years and a bunch of cats.

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But he doesn’t look the type!

After reading my post about Lindsay Shepherd, my research assistant (the small one) said something to the effect of:

“Those guys look like complete weirdos! The one on the left looks like the sort of person who appears in your posts on polyamory!”

She is referring to Nathan Rambukkana, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University:

Let’s take a look at his biography:

My book, Fraught Intimacies: Non/Monogamy in the Public Sphere (UBC Press, 2015) explores the increased mediation of non-monogamies since the early nineties—in every medium from television, to film, to self-help books, to the Internet—and how such convergent mediation opens these discourses up to societal scrutiny, as well as transformation. By exploring the privileged logics that frame our conceptions of intimacy, I explore the political and cultural implications of how we frame non-monogamy broadly in sexual discourse, as well as how the public sphere presences of three major forms of non-monogamy (adultery, polygamy and polyamory) display a complex relationship with “intimate privilege,” an emergent state in which one’s intimacies are read as viable, ethical or even real.

Now there’s a surprise, eh? If the media wants us to buy the line that polyamory is now mainstream, we’re going to have to overlook the fact that most people involved with it are complete weirdos and many of them have serious issues which urgently need addressing.

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Polyamorists of Yore

Well, whaddya know? Another article – this time in The Guardian – telling us how perfectly normal and mainstream polyamory is (thanks to my research assistant for pointing me towards it. No, not that one. Nor the other one. This one is, erm, heavier.)

How movies brought polyamory into the mainstream

Why, it’s so mainstream you get a free extra partner with every third box of washing powder!

Non-monogamous relationships used to be portrayed as disastrous in film.

Thank goodness for audiences’ ability to suspend belief, eh?

Last week, a very different period drama hit cinemas. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women concerns a real-life love story between a professor and his academic wife – and their teaching student, Olive. From the late 1920s onwards, they begin sharing a workplace, a bed, a home and eventually a family.

Angela Robinson’s biopic of the creator of Wonder Woman, American psychologist William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), may be the most positive depiction of polyamory – the state of being in love with more than one person – in mainstream film to date. It posits that the comic-book superheroine was inspired by a happy, long-term union between the feminist Marston, his brilliant, acerbic wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and bright young student Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote), as well as their dalliances with S&M, a theme that worked its way into the comics. Despite the controversy the latter caused at the time, it is an accessible, occasionally moving film that treats the three-way relationship much like a typical movie coupling. This makes it decidedly atypical in the history of cinema.

Now I’ve had a brief look at the story behind this chap and his two lovers and unless what I could find online has been sanitised, it seems the three of them made a proper go of it. Well, good for them. I’ve never said polyamory can’t work, I’ve just said that it is very unusual and most examples I’ve heard of are based mainly in sex/shagging around and end in disaster after a very short time. In fact, I think it’s telling that in order to make a film about a polyamorous relationship that didn’t end in disaster they’ve had to go all the way back to 1930 to find an example of one. If this was so mainstream one would have thought they’d have used a more modern example – or not bothered to make a film of it at all.

Also, none of the accounts I have read of this particular case indicated there was any sex going on outside the trio, i.e. it was a locked-down version of polyamory. Most other accounts involved one or more of the partner being free to go off and have sex with someone else, provided the ground rules are followed (and they’re often not), which isn’t quite the same thing. The relationship depicted in this film seems to differ from contemporary accounts of polyamory by virtue of it not, at least on the surface, being centred wholly around sex and shagging around.

This line in the article amuses me somewhat:

It posits that the comic-book superheroine was inspired by a happy, long-term union between the feminist Marston, his brilliant, acerbic wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and bright young student Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote), as well as their dalliances with S&M, a theme that worked its way into the comics.

An alpha-male with a wife and a mistress who are into threesomes and S&M is a feminist, is he? Wikipedia goes further:

Marston had 2 children each with both his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and his live-in mistress Olive Byrne. Elizabeth supported the family financially while Byrne stayed home to take care of all four children. Both Olive and Elizabeth “embodied the feminism of the day.”

Now I have no reason to think this Marston chap was a bad ‘un, and his women appear to be happy with the arrangement so good for all three of them. But two women agreeing to be part of a harem is an embodiment of feminism? Are the multiple wives of Mormons feminists too?

In my previous post I wrote about how modern-day feminists seem happy to let all sorts of weirdos and scumbags into their circles provided they are on-message with the latest progressive pronouncements. We can add to that a bizarre habit of calling anyone a feminist if their lifestyle meets with their approval. No wonder so many of them come across as barking mad.

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The Feminists who Enable Sex-Pests

I’ve written before about my theory that many feminists take a dim view of men because those they choose to associate with are low-grade scumbags. Only recently we had a woman saying that all men were sex-pests and a few minutes later labelling men who weren’t sex-pests as “boring”, and I have written several posts on how Laurie Penny’s views of men tell us more about who she befriends than it does about men in general. Just in case one or two of you were thinking this theory doesn’t hold water, let me share this tweet from Laurie herself:

Now there’s a surprise, eh? But let’s just bask in the irony of someone who befriends and partners-up with a serial rapist presuming to lecture the world on the dangers of men and The Patriarchy.

So did our gal know what was going on? Did she cover for him? Alas, we don’t know and she isn’t saying:

Frankly, I’mm not surprised in the least that at least one of Laurie’s friends have turned out to be a rapist. She already told us this:

So, I’ve got this friend with a shady past. He’s a clever and conscientious person who grew up in the patriarchy, and he knows that he’s done things which may not have been criminal but have hurt people, and by people he means women. My friend has hurt women, and he doesn’t know what to do about that now, and from time to time we talk about it. That’s how it happened that, a few weeks ago, halfway through an effervescent confession in a coffee shop, the following words came out of his mouth: “Technically, I don’t think I’ve raped anyone.”

And as I said about another former friend of hers:

Why do I get the impression that this individual is not half as normal and decent as Penny is letting us believe. At a guess, I would say he is a slimy fucker of the first water who hangs around lefty circles hoping to get into the knickers of women, usually much younger and with low self-esteem and few morals, throwing out leftist and feminist platitudes to get himself accepted with no further scrutiny. Penny, at nineteen years of age, ought to have stayed well away from him even if she didn’t think he was a rapist.

For a self-declared feminist warrior who pops up in the national media to denounce misogyny and demonise men in general, she seems to befriend an awful lot of rapists and serial abusers. But as I say in the paragraph above, these types will gravitate towards people like her. Consider this tweet I read today:

Erika makes a good point. Abusive people deliberately target dysfunctional communities – such as hardcore leftists and polyamorists – knowing they won’t be turfed out on their ear. Instead, by spouting the right political platitudes, they’ll be liked and respected and can count on the support of the rest of the group if anyone lodges a complaint against them.

All of this is obvious, none of it should be a surprise. It seems a lot of these people complaining about sexually-abusive men are enabling and protecting them. For now I’ll charitably assume they are doing so unwittingly.

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Al Franken is an arse, but he shouldn’t resign over this photo

Earlier this week, a judge by the name of Roy Moore stood accused of sexually assaulting a teenage woman in Alabama, the state for which he will shortly run for senator as a Republican. The accusations date back decades meaning we’re never going to find out what happened, but the guy comes across as a slimy bastard at best: he did an interview with Sean Hannity which only served to make him look shiftier, and the comments from his lawyer can’t have helped much. If he had any sense he’d withdraw from the race, and Republicans would back someone less dodgy.

The trouble is, Moore has become the trench in which many Republicans have selected to fight what they see as Democrat hypocrisy, particularly over Bill Clinton. Why should Moore resign over ancient, unproven allegations of sexual assault when the Democrats defended Slick Willie for decades and still wheel him out at fundraisers and election campaigns? The Republicans have a good point, but defending Moore is an odd way to go about it: certainly, I’d not want to be among those defending him. Innocent until proven guilty is an important principle to uphold when dispensing justice, but I am happy to accept a lower burden of proof when someone is merely running for office.

But things took a stupid turn yesterday when former comedian and Democrat senator Al Franken was accused of forcibly kissing and groping a model by the name of Leeann Tweeden when they visited Iraq in 2006. A picture has emerged of Franken allegedly groping Tweeden as she sleeps:

This photo – taken by Franken’s brother – is being held up as being proof of Tweeden’s allegations and a lot of people are now calling for his resignation. The way things are going, they’ll probably get their way.

Now I really don’t like Franken. I didn’t know of him until I saw him question Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court pick, during his nomination hearings and he came across as a deeply ignorant partisan fool. If he resigns it’s hard to see how American politics would be worse off, but to do so on the basis of that photo is stupid. Now it’s clear Franken is an idiot and taking photos like that is not the wisest thing to do. But it was before he was a senator at a time when he was a comedian, or what passes for one these days, and it was obviously meant as a joke. Tweeden is asleep but wearing a flak jacket, and it’s not even clear that Franken’s hands are touching it. It is humiliating for Tweeden, and Franken should have been given a bollocking for it, and perhaps Tweeden’s claim that he forcibly kissed her should be taken more seriously – but to say this photo is proof of sexual assault on the same level as that which Moore is accused of is absolute nonsense.

It’s probably been a long time coming, but America is in the middle of a moral panic over sexual assaults both real and imagined. Unable to deal with it sensibly, everyone is just digging political trenches and lobbing hand-grenades at the other side when this ought to have nothing to do with politics at all. Unfortunately, everything is about politics these days and as such we’re being subject to ever-more bizarre displays of political posturing. The worrying thing is I don’t think we’re anywhere close to rock-bottom yet, and moral panics rarely end well.

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Who knew what?

Via Twitter I came across an astonishing quote from one Bernard Godard, who served as an expert on Islam in the French ministry of interior between 2007-14. His remarks were made in relation to the recent allegations against Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss scholar specialising in Islam who from what I can tell gets wheeled out frequently for commentary and blessed with cushy positions in institutes of higher learning such as Oxford University. Apparently Mr Ramadan is now being accused of raping minors, which seems to be quite a regular occurrence among mildly famous people these days. But what is extraordinary is the statement of M. Godard, who obviously knew Mr Ramadan well (emphasis mine):

“That he had many mistresses, that he consulted sites, that girls were brought to the hotel at the end of his lectures, that he invited them to undress, that some resisted and that he could become violent and aggressive, yes, but I have never heard of rapes, I am stunned,” he told French magazine L’Obs.

Right, so a pal of yours is known for inviting girls to his hotel room, demanding they undress, and getting violent and aggressive if they resist but when you’re informed of rape allegations you’re “stunned”? Look, I know the French have a rather odd interpretation of what constitutes sexual assault if the man in question is a well-connected older man (see Dominic Strauss-Khan for example), but does this Godard really think everyone’s that stupid? If the British government is being rattled by allegations of inappropriate knee-touching fifteen years ago, Lord knows what we’re going to uncover if the French lift the blanket on the behaviour of their politicians.

I was thinking about all this the other night, and cast my mind back to Hollywood and Harvey Weinstein. Entry into Hollywood is difficult and one doesn’t just arrive and immediately get invited to Weinstein’s hotel room for an audition; there is a process and it takes time. For a lot of people, that will involve turning up and touting around for roles as an extra just to get you on set, building up to a minor walk-on role perhaps with a few lines of dialogue. For others, family connections get them onto a set and shoved up the ladder a bit quicker. Unless I’m missing something, this lifestyle will involve little other than talking to agents, socialising, putting yourself about, and spending hour after hour hanging around either on set or off it with other wannabe actors and actresses in just the same situation as you. You’ll also be surrounded by thousands of other studio workers, e.g. electricians, make-up artists, wardrobe assistants, etc. many of whom will also be working hard on their careers.

Apparently we’re supposed to believe that none of these people engage in gossip or, when a greenhorn arrives in their patch, they spell out how things work and what’s expected of them. If the celebrity stories are to be believed, they navigated the lower rungs of Hollywood for years without getting a single whiff of how it worked, and only at the moment Weinstein jacked off into a potted plant did it all become clear. Right.

Regardless of the industry, newcomers are almost always subject to being pulled aside on day one and educated by the experienced hands as to how things work. Half the time they’re making sure a potential rival doesn’t get above their station, but the other half they’re just engaging in natural paternal or maternal behaviour mixed with the fun of gossiping about people. Anyone arriving on the periphery of Hollywood would have learned very quickly how things work closer to the core. Rumours would abound as to why actress X got that role in film Y shortly after she met with producer Z, and a young aspiring actress would soon learn what was expected of her sooner or later. Some would quit the industry, some would choose to hang around on the periphery or take a less-prominent role which didn’t require the same compromises, but others would choose to press on anyway. This is fair enough, but I find it extremely hard to believe any actor or actress did so without having received dozens of warnings, listened to hundreds of stories, and heard a thousand rumours.

Is this any different in politics? Are those who hang around on the periphery not pulled aside and subject not only to endless dark warnings about how they should behave, but also about the nature and characteristics of the powerful men and women who control the hierarchy? Of course they are. Stuff a tenth as juicy as this becomes office gossip in every organisation, it simply isn’t possible to keep serial debauchery, harassment, sexual assault, or rape under wraps and out of the rumour mill. Every organisation has a load of people who absolutely live for this kind of thing, and they make sure whatever goes on is common, if unconfirmed, knowledge. Exaggerated and embellished of course, but usually based in some sort of truth.

What I feel is getting left out of the “everyone knew” narrative is that this is probably true of the victims, too. Who in their right mind would go to a hotel room of an old creep like Tariq Ramadan or Harvey Weinstein other than to sleep with them? Or did these young women proceed anyway, perhaps thinking they possessed some rare special talent that would mean the meeting would be strictly professional? I could easily believe half of them were dim enough to think that, but the rest? They probably knew damned well what they were getting into.

The minors though, that’s different. My guess is guys who prey on people less powerful than themselves get a kick out of it, and once they’ve been through several dozen willing adults it starts getting boring and they move onto something more edgy. One thing’s for sure, celebrities wrapped up in sexual assault allegations or kiddy-fiddling allegations seem to have an abundance of willing, adult partners on-tap so it’s not driven by frustration. That’s probably reason enough for an organisation to nip this sort of behaviour in the bud as soon as the management hear about it; sure, the university administrations probably thought it was a right giggle that Ramadan used to bed the prettiest girls from the audience immediately after his lectures, but they probably find it less funny now he’s accused of raping minors.

Which brings me onto my final point: in among all this talk of minors being abused in Hollywood or by dodgy Swiss scholars, where the hell were the parents? Nobody seems to want to ask that.

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Sexism at Work

Some time ago I worked in an office with limited space, so the coffee machine was put in the same room as the printer. This meant you’d often find someone getting themselves coffee when you went to the printer and vice versa. The room was small so you’d have to squeeze past one another, which involved a bit of cooperation.

There were quite a few people on the floor: engineers, managers, admin staff, etc. with the last group being mainly middle-aged women. Usually when a dashing young man like me walked into this room, any women present would respectfully make way for me and say a polite “hello”. The men would too, but they’d move a fraction more slowly. I notice these things.

Then one day I walked in to pick something off the printer and I found the way blocked by three or four of the secretary/admin ladies. One of them saw me in her peripheral vision, glanced at me, and didn’t move. Nor did any of the others.

“Ey up,” I thought. “What’s going on here?”

I politely said “excuse me” and they shifted aside, just enough to let me past. As they did I saw they were all chatting with a man, who so happened to be one of the big bosses on the floor. As I waited for the printer to rumble into action I listened to them, clucking like hens around this high-status male in their midst. Had he not been there, I would have held the high status and they’d have stepped aside, but with this chap there I was just a pleb who could be ignored while they gave him their full attention. Once I’d worked out what was going on I couldn’t stop myself from grinning. If any of them noticed it on my way out, they ignored it.

I suspect the women’s behaviour was subconscious, and none would have had any recollection of it afterwards. In other words, it was quite natural. Now men arse-lick bosses all the time, more so than women in my experience, but this wasn’t quite arse-licking. It was more an adjustment of body-language to reflect the relative status of the two men in the room and if you weren’t looking for it you’d miss it.

I’ve been thinking of this incident in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the tidal wave of women who’ve come forward claiming they’ve been sexually harassed at work, usually by a man in a position of power over them. I turned on the news this morning to find the British Defence Secretary has resigned for having placed his hand on the knee of a journalist some 15 years ago, despite the woman in question not thinking it any big deal and appearing rather uhappy about what’s happened:

The resignation comes a day after a spokesman for Sir Michael confirmed that he was once rebuked by a journalist, Julia Hartley-Brewer, for putting his hand on her knee during a dinner in 2002.

The spokesman said Sir Michael apologised when it happened.

Ms Hartley-Brewer, a former political editor of the Sunday Express and regular political commentator, told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight: “If he has gone because he touched my knee 15 years ago, that is genuinely the most absurd reason for anyone to have lost their job in the history of the universe, so I hope it is not because of that.”

If a knee-touch 15 years ago is enough to bring down a cabinet minister, then we’re going to be in for interesting times. For while the world and its dog are demanding men change their behaviour in the workplace (or at boozy parties vaguely connected with work and, going off one example I heard on the BBC, company ski holidays), they are refusing to even discuss whether women’s behaviour plays any part in all this. A couple of months back I said:

It could be that when a woman acts like a “lad” and engages in alcohol-fuelled banter of an insulting or sexual nature – even in jest – it brings out the worst behaviour in the men around her.

So there’s that. Of course, there are plenty of women who’ve not behaved like this but nevertheless been sleazed over at work, because there is the odd lecherous man everywhere and these guys need to be thinned out. Then there is the vast majority of women who behave well and so do the men around them, but they don’t make good headlines.

But what’s interesting is at the margins you’re going to find men behaving well until, almost subconsciously, they make the wrong move or say the wrong thing. It might even be too subtle to notice, unless there is an entire HR and grievance industry forcing women to spot anything that may look like harassment and lodge an immediate complaint. If a bunch of women can subconsciously modify their body-language when a high-status male is in their presence, and change their approach to male co-workers depending on which other men are in the room, then it’s likely men are acting in similar fashion – only for now it’s just one party that’s getting in trouble for it.

What we’re seeing here, at the margins, is human nature working as it’s supposed to. Merely designating a territory a workplace is not going to eliminate all non-professional interactions between men and women, any more than you can stop men making fun of each other in the office. Was Weinstein acting at the margins? No he wasn’t. Was Fallon? Maybe not, but it’s less clear-cut. If things carry on like this, there is only one solution and it’s simple: segregate men and women in the workplace.

Now big companies won’t get on board with this, because the hardcore feminists have other plans, which is to take over the major organisations and ensure any men working in them are cowering with fear of the sexual harassment sword of Damocles hanging over them. But I can see a drift towards segregation in the overall job market. I’ve written before about how smart young men might begin to shun the major organisations and set up in bunches of twos and threes and scoop up the work the big players have rendered themselves incapable of doing. Men being branded sexist pigs from the outset by power-skirts in HR is only going to speed this process up, and with Tinder and other apps it’s not like they need to work among women to meet anyone anyway. Fast forward ten years and we’ll be seeing a lot of tiny outfits working the gig economy made up of men who treat women they meet online like disposable napkins, while women sit in giant organisations holding meetings to find new ways of torturing the grovelling betas who report to them. And complain bitterly they can’t meet any decent men who want to settle down.

How this is a future any sane woman wants is beyond me, but that’s what third-wave feminism will give them.

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A Profile of a Modern American Woman

Via Twitter I came across this charming story of a young woman who whored her way across Europe for the summer. There is an awful lot to say, so let’s begin:

This summer, just two days after my divorce, I left for a 10-week solo trip through Europe, visiting 11 countries and dating in most of them.

Note the use of the term “dating”. As we’ll soon find out, that’s not quite the word she’s looking for.

My ex and I eloped to Hawaii when we were 25. But shortly after we started arguing more, and with more intensity. Despite counseling, neither of us was happy, so I moved back in with my family. That was last winter.

So we’ve established she’s emotionally immature (eloping at 25?), makes rash decisions she’s unable to see through, and quite possibly unable to build a lasting relationship. Counseling? If you need that, the relationship is already doomed.

By summer, I was feeling like myself again, but I was falling for a guy I met on Tinder. Will* was a passionate, outgoing PhD student who wasn’t looking for commitment and who was leaving for a summer internship across the country.

Tinder. Classy.

So at 26, single for the first time in my adult life, I decided to spend the summer traveling.

As more evidence of her emotional immaturity, she deals with her marital failure by going traveling rather than engaging in serious self-reflection over her past choices and where her life is going.

And dating men abroad.

“Dating”.

In mid-June, I landed in Edinburgh and started swiping.

I matched with Nicholas* on Bumble, who was 29 and a pianist.

On my last day, we hiked to the top of Arthur’s Seat, a hill overlooking the city. I asked for his opinion about Will from home…Nicholas said Will sounded like a prolific dater who’s been moving through girls for years — and that I was too sensitive for quick, casual dating. He might be right about Will, but I didn’t agree with his assessment of me; I’ve dated other guys before and since Will, and I haven’t cared about anyone else.

Hang on. You were single for the first time in your adult life when you got divorced in the winter. You met Will in the summer, then you went traveling and met this Nicholas guy first up. Yet you dated other guys before and since Will? Again, her definition of “dating” is probably not the same as everyone else’s.

Will and I had an instant connection; we’d lie on the couch talking for hours and text daily. I couldn’t get enough of him, and it seemed like he felt the same way.

But when he left for the summer, I asked if he’d want to keep seeing each other in the fall. He responded: “The fall is a long way away, but I can’t immediately think of a reason I wouldn’t want to hang out again.” Ouch.

I’ll save you some time: he sees you as a fuck-buddy, not girlfriend material. At this point we get a pic of the author – one Elise Linscott, a freelance writer – in a bikini:

Okay, she’s young with a good body. Pretty much just the sort of girl anyone looking for a quick, meaningless shag on Tinder would go for, which explains her success. But anyone who thinks this is all that’s necessary to get a decent man to commit to a relationship is delusional.

I was in the city of Faro in the Algarve Region for one night and not expecting any dates. But on Tinder, a guy named João invited me for a motorcycle ride and coffee by the beach; we had a lot in common, and being with him felt easy.

After sunset, we went back to the city and hung out on the roof of my Airbnb apartment — until we got chased off by my host, who was furious I’d brought a strange man there (oops).

The host probably thought you were a prostitute. I’m being quite serious here. You might want to say a little more than “oops”.

Instead, we drove to his beach house and had sex for hours. (And, I learned that, in Portugal, they call spooning the “shell position.”)

We stayed in bed, playing guitar and singing until 6 A.M.

I was sad to leave João, but I couldn’t stop smiling. Those were the kinds of experiences I was hoping to have, and I thought about how much my life has changed over the past year, for the better.

She’s gone from being married to a long-term boyfriend to being shagged on the beach by random Portuguese blokes who ride motorbikes. Apparently this is change for the better.

I texted Will a picture of the view from my terrace and asked if he knew where I was — he guessed right. He said his internship was busy but good, and that he was enjoying Seattle. No sign that he was thinking about me as much as I was about him.

Which is fortunate for Will, given what you’re up to. Sounds as though he has some sense.

There wasn’t much activity on Bumble, but on Tinder I met Pablo*, a biologist from northern Spain with a beard and ponytail and sexy accent. He took me to a hidden “secret bar” for tinto verano (chilled red wine with lemon-lime soda) and vino de pasas (raisin wine) — both were surprisingly good.

That weekend, we went to a music festival with his friends and danced to DJs and bands. His friends were nice, but didn’t really English, and he made little effort to include me in their conversations.

Perhaps you had nothing interesting to say?

His friends seemed more willing to help me translate in restaurants than Pablo, who seemed more interested in flirting with the scantily-clad girl sitting next to him.

So having had sex with you a few times, he’s no longer interested and is giving you every sign he wants you to fuck off and leave him alone. You know, there is a branch of feminism that insists women having meaningless sex with strangers is empowering. Does this woman seem very empowered at this juncture?

My last week in Seville I dated Mario*, who was half Italian and half Spanish. He took me to a rooftop bar with a view of Seville Cathedral and said he’d bring me to the airport Monday morning when I flew to Paris.

Sunday, I texted him. He said he was stuck in Malaga, hours away.

I’m beginning to think this woman has rocks in her head. How dense do you need to be to firstly believe this guy will give you a lift to the airport, secondly actually believe he is stuck in Malaga, and thirdly write about it in a major magazine later?

I was starting to realize I shouldn’t count on men who know they’ll never see me again to keep their word.

This woman is 26 years old.

But, I was still enjoying traveling overall and spending my days sightseeing. And I was optimistic I’d meet more guys like João.

To be honest, they all sound alike to me.

I met Max*, a 28-year-old British Student (a Tinder match), for lunch. The very first thing I noticed was that he not as attractive as his photos.

Can we get Max’s opinion on you?

By dinner, I was out of cash (and the restaurant was cash-only)

Wait, this is in Paris. Where the hell were they eating, the Grand Istanbul Kebab House? Everywhere takes credit cards except the Turkish joints, and even half of them do. I think she’s been taken to dinner at a vending machine.

The next day, he texted, asking if I was free for coffee. I wasn’t interested and didn’t respond.

Because a simple “no thanks” is too much effort.

“We never settled the bill from dinner! And I can’t afford the 22 quid,” he texted. At first, I was confused, until I remembered he paid the bill.

He’s taken you out to dinner and paid the bill, but the next day you can’t even be bothered to respond to an invitation to coffee?

He then asked me to PayPal him the money from my half; I didn’t respond. Funny how he only wanted the money after he knew I wasn’t interested.

It’s equally funny how you only let him know you weren’t interested once he’d paid the bill.

He kept texting, so I blocked him.

Of course you did. I addressed that here.

A few days later, he found me on Facebook and sent me a message: “Is there something wrong with you, or are you just a c*nt? Hahahaha.”

Why, it’s almost as if shitty behaviour from one party brings out the worst in another, isn’t it?

I blocked him again, and started to wonder if the mix of good dates was worth the risk of bad ones.

From what I can tell, her definition of a good date is meaningless sex with a random Latino, and a bad date is when some guy gets understandably upset by being ignored after he’s bought her dinner.

I was in a terrible mood until that night, when I got a notification Will added me on Snapchat.

Obsessed with Will, yet sleeping her way around Europe. In my book there is a character who, separated from her fiance by the cruel demands of the US visa system, addresses her heartache by shagging someone else for several months. I say this because I’m sure there are elements which normal people will think unrealistic or exaggerated.

In Munich, I met Maddin* (from Bumble) near the Isar River. We sat in the grass and watched people wade in. He was 33 and chiseled. We sat with our feet in the water and he moved closer to me and kissed me. He said he had to leave for a wedding in his hometown that evening, but that he had a few hours, and asked if I wanted to go home with him.

Heh! If Maddin had to go for a wedding, I have a bridge to sell Miss Linscott. So did she go? What do you think?

Just as I expected, his apartment was huge and sleek and expensive-looking. And he was amazing in bed.

So, why is someone who is 33, chiseled, and lives in a huge apartment in Munich picking up women on hook-up apps? Answers on a postcard.

He said he’s never been in love and that he’s too picky, and that he finds one flaw and moves on (this seems to be a common pattern in today’s dating-app culture).

A major flaw being a woman’s readiness to go to bed with him almost immediately and falling for stories about weddings in his hometown. Note that her behaviour utterly typifies the dating-app culture, yet she’s too dim to realise it.

He said it was one of the nicest conversations he’d had with someone he just met. I smiled the whole walk back to my hotel, feeling revived and relaxed.

I’m beginning to like this Maddin chap. My guess is he’s made his money selling secondhand cars.

I took an overnight bus to Copenhagen. At a seafood restaurant near the city center, one of the waiters smiled every time he walked past, and I smiled back. I heard him talking to my waitress (in Danish), and shortly after, he took over as my waiter.

Can you imagine that conversation? “Hey Olaf, I’ve got another one of those American airheads on my table. She seems a lot like the one you shagged against the dumpster two nights ago, you want to swap tables?”

After dinner, he made me a cappuccino from the restaurant next door and got my number, then we went out for champagne. He said he was surprised I didn’t mind eating alone, “looking like I got stood up.”

I suspect what he meant was he’s surprised she didn’t mind eating alone and hooking up with the waiter.

I still don’t know what will happen with Will, but we’re seeing each other again. He asked me to come over his first night back in town, and it felt like we picked up right where we left off. We spent the whole night cuddling and telling each other about our summers, and have been seeing each other in the weeks since.

Prediction: Will is going to find someone else shortly and give you the heave-ho.

I think you can learn from every person and every relationship, no matter how brief (or awkward).

Every relationship? She’s only had one, followed by a summer of sex with random strangers.

I’m building a better picture of what I want in a partner, but I’m also learning that I don’t need one to be happy.

This is probably just as well; I see several cats in this woman’s future life.

Okay, this post is already long but I’m going to make it longer because there are some important points here, many of which I make in my book. The first is that feminists will tell you there is a double standard at play: if a man had written this, everyone would admire him for his sexual prowess. This is a myth, and I address it in my book thusly:

Amy took a step towards me. ‘You have such fucking double standards!’ she said, trying to control her anger. ‘If she was a man, nobody would say anything, but she’s a woman so you think you can judge her!’
‘What double standards? If a guy’s lurching from one low-grade woman to another, fucking anything that moves and failing to hold down a proper relationship, you think women won’t judge him?’
‘Not in the same way,’ said Tom.
‘Bullshit! No self-respecting woman would go near him, and rightly so. This whole double-standards thing might apply to young people, but there comes a time when men need to show maturity and restraint, just the same as women, and we’re all way past that point.’

There’s passage from my book which is relevant here, too:

‘Remember when you were younger,’ I said. ‘You’d always ask a girlfriend how many guys she’d been with? The answer would always bother you; if she said two or three you’d be disappointed. But that changes with age; when you’re with a woman over thirty you don’t care how many, but you want to see that they were decent, normal guys and she was with them for the right reasons. You don’t want to hear she’s had one-night stands, or been with a string of losers, or men twice her age. It’s not the number of guys a woman has slept with that matters, it’s the standards she’s kept.’
‘Yes, you need to see she’s applied some sort of filter.’
‘If she’s got no standards, it reflects badly on you. It means either she sees you on the same level, or she’s scoring out of her league – in which case you should probably aim higher yourself. Whereas if she’s maintained her standards, it shows she values you.’

Is this being judgemental? Perhaps, but I address that too:

‘It’s not so much judging as assessing, trying to work out if you’ll be compatible with that person. The thing is, I know guys can be judgemental about women, and sometimes they might react unreasonably to an aspect of their past. But it all depends on what that past looks like, doesn’t it? Where do you draw the line?

You know what? I should be judgemental! I don’t care what people do on their own, but if they try to enter my life I’m entitled to judge what I see of their behaviour and values. If they don’t like the process, it tells you something already.’

If women – or men – are going to behave like Miss Linscott, then they should at least shut up about it afterwards. As one character says to another in my book:

‘Everyone has a history at our age; I don’t expect the women I meet to be virgins, so they’ll have a past, ex-boyfriends, and so on. If an ex was important to them, or they were in a serious relationship, then I’d expect them to tell me about the guy and I’d be okay with it. But I don’t need to know everything. For example, if a girl went on holiday to Mexico and fucked a waiter, I don’t want to know about it. I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with it, but she should keep it to herself. This sort of thing isn’t my business.’

This is obviously difficult advice to follow if you’ve bragged about it in Cosmopolitan. Also, I think this point is crucial:

When you start dating someone you want to know the choices they’ve made, but more important is how they view those choices today.

At some point in future, Miss Linscott is going to meet a man who might be interested in forming a relationship with her and this summer of sex is going to come out. If she’s engaged in some self-reflection and is doing everything she can to hide this sordid episode due to the shame it now induces in her, she’ll have half a chance of convincing him to stick around. But if she hits him with a barrage of angry feminist mantra about how she was “empowered” and he’s being “judgemental”, he’ll be off like a shot. Of course, she may still meet someone, but:

‘The only guys who wouldn’t care are those who just wanted a fuck. Or maybe guys who are desperate.’

Finally, what the hell kind of job did her parents do on her? They must read this article and feel so very, very proud. That’s something else I address in my book, too.

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On Harvey Weinstein

I have a feeling that this Harvey Weinstein story is going to be huge. It’s not that he was a sleazy Hollywood producer with a well-worn casting casting couch; that sort of stuff has been going on for ages. Nor is it that lots of people around him knew it was going on but covered it up; that too has been going on for ages. It’s more to do with who covered it up.

Since as far back as I can remember, Hollywood in general, and particularly famous actors and actresses, have been fully supportive of liberal, progressive politics and openly hostile to Republicans and conservatism. They worshipped at the feet of Barack Obama and went into meltdown over the election of Donald Trump. They have portrayed themselves as the moral arbiters of the nation, leading the way into a progressive new world by adopting every trendy cause going: Leonardo DiCaprio on global warming, Mark Ruffalo on fracking, Shia LeBeouf on anti-Trump, God knows how many actresses turning up in support of Planned Parenthood and other feminist-driven organisations. This culminated with Meryl Streep’s excruciating Oscar speech in which she positioned Hollywood celebrities like her as the shining beacons of hope in a country which would otherwise be nothing but ignorant white men watching football.

The Democrats, of course, have welcomed this unquestioning support for years, happy to hob-nob with Hollywood stars at swanky parties in New York and LA and receive millions in campaign donations along the way. Hollywood, Democrats, and liberal politics have become so intertwined it is almost impossible to separate the two. Also entangled in the whole lot is the media, which is largely the publicity arm of the Democratic party, and hence also firmly in bed with the Hollywood moguls. When Trump ran for president, everyone on the left – Democrats, the media, and Hollywood stars – lined up to condemn his misogyny and ill-treatment of women when the Access Hollywood tape (several years old) was mysteriously leaked at a crucial point in his campaign. This triggered the feminist-driven anti-Trump movement which after his election organised huge protest marches in support of women’s rights which they claimed were being eradicated under an administration which wasn’t even a week old. Several prominent Hollywood celebrities spoke at these highly-political marches, more attended, and the media gave them fawning coverage.

Now it appears that these same people have not only been close friends with a serial sexual predator, but they have been actively covering up his activities for years. The dyke was breached when Ashley Judd spoke to the New York Times about Weinstein’s behaviour towards her early in her career. Ironically, Judd subjected the masses to an unhinged political rant at the Washington Women’s March last January; one wonders why she chose to attack Trump – who she’s probably never met – than lodge a complaint about the man who actually abused her. I’ll get to the answer later.

Since then, the floodgates have opened. Several more prominent actresses have come forward with tales of abuse at the hands of Weinstein and with it dozens of pictures of actors, celebrities, and Democrat politicians cosying up to him while showering him with accolades. This would be less damaging were everyone in the dark as to what he was up to, but evidence is pouring in that his demands for sexual favours from young women was Hollywood’s worst kept secret. It was so widely known that Seth MacFarlane even joked about it at the 2013 Oscars, and everyone laughed.

It’s hardly surprising that few of these young women came forward to report him, and tempting though it is to point out that Judd only went to the papers once her career was over and her money earned, it is unfair. Yesterday an audio recording emerged of an encounter between actress/model Ambra Gutierrez and Weinstein. The conversation was recorded as part of an NYPD sting operation into Weinstein’s behaviour, and Gutierrez – who had been groped by Weinstein the day before – made the recording on their behalf. Weinstein admits on tape to inappropriate behaviour the day before, but the New York District Attorney – one Cyrus Vance Jr – decided to quash the case. If police recordings weren’t enough to bring about meaningful intervention into Weinstein’s behaviour, the mere word of a young woman wasn’t going to. As a measure of Weinstein’s clout, I read an anecdote on Twitter last week regarding an incident that took place at a very public event in New York. Some reporter had upset Weinstein and he grabbed him around the neck and basically threw him down some steps. Despite the dozens of photographers and cameramen around, not a single shot of the incident was published: nobody would dare.

Of course, covering up is one thing, actively defending the guy another. According to today’s Independent:

It’s been alleged by The Wrap founder Sharon Waxman that she investigated the accusations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein 13 years ago while reporting for The New York Times in 2004.

She claims this piece was cut from the paper due to both The Weinstein Company’s presence as an advertiser and alleged meddling by major Hollywood players including Matt Damon and Russell Crowe.

We also have this report from the New York Times which really doesn’t make Brad Pitt look too good after his then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow was propositioned by Weinstein:

She refused his advances, she said, and confided in Brad Pitt, her boyfriend at the time. Mr. Pitt confronted Mr. Weinstein, and soon after, the producer warned her not to tell anyone else about his come-on. “I thought he was going to fire me,” she said.

So Pitt knew about Weinstein since the time of this incident, which would have been around 1994, and said nothing. However, skeptics might point out that Paltrow wasn’t so traumatised that she couldn’t work with Weinstein afterwards in her defining role in Shakespeare in Love. Also in the NYT piece comes news that Weinstein also made unwanted advances on Angelina Jolie.

Okay, here’s the thing: I can understand why a young, unknown actress might not speak up about Weinstein, but Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow? Why are they only coming public with it now? Jolie has been one of the most powerful people in Hollywood for years, and Paltrow has been famous enough to brush off Weinstein for at least as long. Why did they not speak up sooner? And while we’re on the subject, why  haven’t these right-on Hollywood men responded to the Guardian‘s request for a comment:

The Guardian contacted more than 20 male actors and directors who have worked with the movie mogul over the years, some of whom have projects with Weinstein. All declined to comment or did not respond to inquiries about the accusations that the producer sexually harassed women over a period of nearly three decades.

The list of industry figures thus far remaining silent includes a number of male directors, such as the Oscar-nominated Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, the Hateful Eight) and David O Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, Flirting With Disaster), who have both made numerous movies with Weinstein.

The liberal film-maker Michael Moore, currently working with Weinstein on a documentary about Donald Trump, also did not respond to a request for comment.

Here’s why. Firstly, nobody gives a shit about one another in these circles. Actors and actresses by nature are narcissistic, selfish assholes and would happily stab one another in the back to get ahead. Ditto Democrats and most of the media. That vicious, vindictive, nastiness that is ever-present among public figures who champion liberal politics – particularly celebrities – doesn’t simply disappear once they’re around friends. They don’t have any friends, just people they can use for now. I see Weinstein’s wife has just decided to leave him, as if she had no idea what he was like before. The directors of his company have fired him only because the public found out about his behaviour, not because they did. Paltrow and Jolie and all the other long-term, highly-protected A-listers are speaking out because as of this week it became the smart thing to do reputation and career-wise. Before that, they were happy to stay silent as women were abused and propositioned just as they had been when younger. So much for female solidarity.

The second reason is politics. For all the talk about Republican and right-wing misogyny, nine times out of ten any public figure caught abusing women in America will be a Democrat or one of their chief supporters. The notable exception is Donald Trump, but sharp-eyed observers will point out that he was a big pal of the Democrats throughout the entire period any bad behaviour was alleged to have taken place (and I wrote about his supposedly excusing sexual assault here). Only once he turned Republican did his misogyny become an issue. One thing this unfolding story about Weinstein will prove once and for all is that Democrats, liberals and their media lackeys will ignore, accept, and defend all manner of disgusting, sexually-abusive behaviour from men provided their politics conform with theirs. We could mention Roman Polanski, or Antony Weiner, or Bill Clinton; provided they are on the liberal, Democrat side of politics, anything is acceptable. But if you’re a Republican and you say you wouldn’t have dinner alone with a woman who wasn’t your wife, the liberal establishment goes into hysterics about misogyny and marches in protest, accusing you of “attacking women”.

I don’t know why Judd finally broke ranks and spoke to the NYT, but now the cat is out of the bag even his politics can’t save him (although some are trying, and others are rapidly backtracking). The liberal mouthpieces have now smelled blood in the water, a chance to take down an old, white guy, polish their third-wave feminist credentials, and push the narrative than women everywhere are subject daily to horrific sexual exploitation by male bosses. Presumably they think nobody will notice they covered it up for years purely because he helped their careers and espoused the right politics.

Commenter Phil B asked me yesterday why I continued to fisk the nonsense that Laurie Penny writes, and this is my answer. In yesterday’s post I commented on how she is happy to remain friends with somebody with a history of sexually assaulting women because she approves of his politics. In the post the day before I recalled how she allowed her rapist to get close to her because “he was a fun-loving, left-leaning chap who was friends with a number of strong, feminist women” she admired. Yet Laurie has decided that it is ordinary, decent, conservative men that are the problem – just as Hollywood celebrities, Democrats, and liberals say it is.

This Harvey Weinstein story is not just about Hollywood, it goes to the very heart of left-liberal politics from the top to the very bottom, and you can be sure he’s not the only one behaving like this. Other names will come out in due course, all with a similar history. This is why I think it will be too big to shove under the carpet.

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California’s HIV Laws

I think by now everyone knows Californians are batshit insane, but this still surprised me:

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that lowers from a felony to a misdemeanor the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection.

“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” Wiener said in a statement. “HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does.”

Supporters of the change said the current law requires an intent to transmit HIV to justify a felony, but others noted cases have been prosecuted where there was no physical contact, so there was an argument intent was lacking.

I think what makes HIV different is that it is one of a very few transmittable diseases which is absolutely incurable and results in the death of the recipient in every instance (yes, the anti-retroviral drugs prolong life almost indefinitely nowadays, but without these death is 100% certain; nobody has so far proved immune or recovered on their own).

HIV has been the only communicable disease for which exposure is a felony under California law. The current law, Wiener argued, may convince people not to be tested for HIV, because without a test they cannot be charged with a felony if they expose a partner to the infection.

This says something about the assumed morality of Californians: they would prefer to infect a partner with a deadly, incurable disease than risk being charged with a felony. And the idea that requiring carriers of this deadly, incurable disease to disclose their condition to partners is “treating them like criminals” is a rather interesting interpretation. Presumably the rights of Californians to not be infected with HIV by irresponsible, immoral partners are subordinate to the feelings of those carrying the disease.

The measure also applies to those who give blood without telling the blood bank that they are HIV-positive.

This is stupid, but probably not as serious as it sounds. I have been told that blood banks screen for HIV in batches, meaning people’s blood is combined and the whole lot tested. If it comes up positive they have to bin the whole batch, which would mean the clean blood mixed up in it is wasted. It’s unlikely HIV-infected blood will get through these days: while false positives are common in HIV testing, I understand false negatives are unheard of. Still, that this law is necessary shows there are people out there willing to give blood while knowingly infected with HIV who have a problem disclosing it.

California, eh?

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