Digging for Gold along the Campaign Trail; Sexual Harassment Motives Are Ignored, Truth Is Unwelcome

Article excerpt


The war between the sexes will never be easy to win because there are too many incentives for men and women to lay down their arms and call for a truce, if not a tryst. Nothing is more powerful than that image of Adam giving up all for Eve. He chose to leave paradise and work for a living rather than lose the woman he loved. (Besides, he couldn't spare another rib.)

In the Darwinian scenarios, a caveman pulls a cavelady by the tresses to show his toughness at the end of the hunt to show who's boss. When Gloria Steinem announced that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, women began organizing consciousness-raising parties to bond with their sisters in sharing stories about a husband's bad behavior - and to learn where they could find a good divorce lawyer.

The skirmishes between men and women have changed through the ages in myth, metaphor and reality, and the only constant is that everybody draws from his or her own quiver of possibilities. Herman Cain offers a large and irresistible target of opportunity.

Sharon Bialek took aim during a news conference at the Friar's Club, a rowdy redoubt of sexual innuendo. The 50-year-old blonde with Veronica Lake's peek-a-boo hairdo and a long memory did the morning-after television shows in a low-cut pink blouse. She may not get paid upfront for her accusations, but her 15 minutes of fame and a sharp attorney may be enough to parlay it into a book and speaking fees.

What's fascinating about her accusations is that reactions to them don't break down according to men versus women, as we might have once expected, but red versus blue politics. Husbands and wives who belong to the same party view the harassment accusations in similar ways, and the femmes in the media divide according to their political leanings.

Andrea Peyser in the New York Post describes Sharon Bialek as having the breathy giddiness of a gal who's read too many bodice-rippers. Michelle Goldberg hedges her bets in the Daily Beast: I have no way of knowing, obviously, whether [Ms.] Bialek was telling the truth, she writes. I do know that it rings true. She then runs down a litany of examples of women caught unawares in the workplace, seeking help from more powerful older men and how often it's difficult to tell whether a man is offering mentorship or lechery. …