Monday, October 30, 2017

More on The New Republic, in which I lose my temper a bit.

I decided this one deserved its own post.

How could I have been so stupid?
I was amazed by the #MeToo outpouring by women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. So many women I know have been victims, and yet, I marveled, I had spent my career in charmed workplaces where such things didn't happen.
But this week I learned that, earlier in my career, I worked in a place that was the very definition of a hostile work environment — a place that is now one of the most visible examples of the Harvey Weinstein fallout. Worse, one of my dearest friends was a victim — indeed, the one who first went public.

But here's what I did know:
I knew that Wieseltier could be a bully. At editorial meetings, he would harshly cut down those he didn't like. I was advised before I took the job that if I wanted to get ahead at the New Republic, I needed to be on his good side. He would protect those he held in favor and sink those he didn't. I was one of those he protected. I think he liked me. I liked, and greatly admired, him.I also knew that the magazine was a boys' club and that most top editors were men. The real power was Wieseltier, by virtue of his close relationship with the absentee owner; no editor could remain in place without his blessing.

Snippage of Mr. Millbank being unable to resist a bit of Trump bashing, even here, even now. He continued:

I and many other male alumni of the New Republic, feminists all, are shaken by what we've learned this week. We weren't a conspiracy of silence, but we were in a cone of ignorance. My friend Franklin Foer, a former editor, recalls being uncomfortable with Wieseltier's lewd comments when he first arrived at the magazine. But "they just seemed accepted. I said nothing — and certainly didn't think hard enough about how those remarks would be suggestive of private behavior or created a hostile environment."

I'll add here that as we found out in today, the publisher was also doing it. Hamilton Fish V, publisher of The New Republic, was asked to "go on leave" because he's been getting handsy with the help, just like

"male alumni of the New Republic, feminists all," watched it happen day after day.
Because they are cowards.

There was no convenient "cone of ignorance" as Milbank says. There was cowardice. You don't need to SEE them do it to notice that the Big Cheese loves to push the women around. If the guy does that in front of you, you know damn well what he's doing when he catches one of the women alone. It isn't rocket science.
I've seen this shit before. There's always the Boys, and they always support the Big Dog. In hospitals it gets interesting, because the Big Dogs are women and the Boys are the Girls instead. This farce is exactly the same when played in reverse. Bullying, those who allow it and survive, those who don't allow it and get fired/leave/quit/whatever. That's what passes for a "career" these days. Selective blindness and a willingness to let other people take fire. Because when they're taking fire, you are safe.
If you're the dumbass that says "Hey! What kind of way is that to talk in front of a lady?" then you get fired. All environments are hostile when you're the guy that stands up. Or the girl, that happens too. You get fired. A lot.
But at least you don't have to write columns trying to cover over your disgusting cowardice.

Michael Oreskes.
Another "proud feminist" no doubt.


Robin Munn said...

I'm sure that many people in such situations justify their cowardice by saying, "I wouldn't be successful in making anything change anyway, so I'd just lose my job for nothing."

The thing is, that is false. I had a roommate once, who is one of the best men that I know. Honest, trustworthy, dependable, all that. At one point, he was working at a used-car dealership. If that sounds like a bit of a mismatched job for an honest man, well, this turned out to be so: the manager at that location was pressuring his employees to sell people cars that were pricier than they really needed. My roommate, whom I'll call James (not his real name), at one point had a couple come onto the lot looking to buy a cheap-but-reliable car. The manager wanted James to sell them car A, but he helped them pick out car B instead, which was a couple thousand dollars cheaper and was much better suited to their needs and finances. The manager chewed him out, at which point James said, "If this is how the job's going to be, I quit." This was at a time when he was still in grad school, and really needed all the money he could make.

Two weeks later, he had to go back to the dealership one more time to pick up his final paycheck. When he did, he found that the manager wasn't around. One of the other employees saw him, and filled him in on the story. It turned out that when James quit, the owner of the chain noticed, and asked, "Why did such a good employee quit like that?" So he investigated — and in the process of investigating, he also found out that this particular manager had been embezzling: the owner promised his employees a commission of X dollars (I don't remember the exact amount) per car sold, but the manager had told them that the commission was something like 20% of X, and was pocketing 80% of what should have gone to his employees. The other employees told James that they had witnessed the police come to the dealership and arrest the dishonest manager, and that they were really grateful because now they were going to actually get the full commission that they had been supposed to get (and that they didn't know about until the owner investigated that branch). All of which would not have happened if James hadn't been willing to walk away from his job (a job he really needed) for the sake of principle.

The Phantom said...

Hi Robin! :)

I've walked away from several jobs over stuff like that. Three spring to mind, there have probably been more over the years. This is not because I am some paragon of virtue, but because I can't STAND people stealing. Can't stand it. Drives me crazy.

It would be SO much more convenient for me if I could just shut up and go along with the flow, but I'm incapable. Can't shut up. I'm the annoying guy who keeps asking "Why?" when something looks funny.

I don't know that anything good ever came out of me kicking over the apple cart but I do it a lot.

This is why I continue to be mystified by the number of people who put up with these insane harassment situations. For years! I would have most definitely ripped somebody's head off over something like that. Like, their whole head.