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Opinion

Will Rash of Sexual Harassment News Lead Men to Actually Examine Their Behavior?

To paraphrase Scarface protagonist Tony Montana, “First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women.” Unfortunately, Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, Bill O’Reilly, and millions of men like them, have somehow overlooked the fact that Tony Montana was a fictional, sexist, drug-addled psychopath, and not a real-life behavioral role model.

At last horrible count, 82 women have publicly claimed that they were sexually assaulted, raped or molested by Mr. Weinstein, but Weinstein himself is just the tip of the dick iceberg. But what is even more disturbing is the likely number of high-powered, high-profile men in Hollywood and, indeed, around the world who have emulated this behavior and are nervously laying low wondering how long before they’re next. And this is to say nothing of the low-powered, low-profile men who, if they have any self-awareness at all, have been searching their past for examples of their own sexually-related transgressions.

But in the midst of a moral shit-storm for the bleaker sex, this may actually be a good thing. With any luck, the men who aren’t actually exposed for what they have done will be encouraged to deeply examine what they can do. To begin with, let’s not just change our behavior, let’s actually change our mentality. And I realize that many of us men would like to believe that none of this applies to us directly because “we’re not like that!” We treat all women with respect. Our mothers are women. We have daughters. I watch the WNBA! I even went to a game once!

It’s all lip service.

But maybe men aren’t entirely to blame… at least according to Donna Karan. I mean, look what she made tons of money off of convincing women what to wear! And we were supposed to just sit back and ignore her tireless efforts to objectify and hyper-sexualize humanity? That would have been unfair to Ms. Karan not to mention the thousands of women she routinely exploited for her personal gain. Granted, women sometimes wear “sexy” clothing, but like Cate Blanchett said, “That doesn’t mean they want to fuck you.” I know! I know! You can’t wrap your head around it. I get it. If a woman is straight, then why wouldn’t she at least entertain the option of having sex with you, regardless of how you go about making her aware of that option. For instance, yelling “Hey sweetheart! Nice mouth!” to her on the street. Believe it or not, that’s a bad start. And it seems like a thing no man should have to be told, and yet…

Harvey Weinstein has succeeded in holding up a mirror to an aspect of male behavior that’s even harder to look at than… well, than Harvey Weinstein in a mirror. But just publicly condemning him is not enough. We need to dig deeper. And this goes for me as well. Unless a women is actually your wife or your girlfriend, then she is decidedly not your wife or your girlfriend. She is a peer. She is a co-worker, a boss, a teacher, a cop, a friend, a congressperson… a person. And I promise you that if you treat that person as a person, your mother and daughter will be proud of you.

J.R. Havlan is an Emmy-award winning television writer who still uses an AOL email address.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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