Someone better get up early tomorrow for Ginni’s phone call:
For nearly two decades, Lillian McEwen has been silent — a part of history, yet absent from it.
When Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his explosive 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Thomas vehemently denied the allegations and his handlers cited his steady relationship with another woman in an effort to deflect Hill’s allegations.
Lillian McEwen was that woman.***
Given that history, she said Hill’s long-ago description of Thomas’s behavior resonated with her.
“He was obsessed with porn,” she said of Thomas, who is now 63. “He would talk about what he had seen in magazines and films, if there was something worth noting.”
McEwen added that she had no problem with Thomas’s interests, although she found pornography to be “boring.”
According to McEwen, Thomas would also tell her about women he encountered at work. He was partial to women with large breasts, she said. In an instance at work, Thomas was so impressed that he asked one woman her bra size, McEwen recalled him telling her.
And it goes on and on like that. I’m not sure how many women have to come forward with the SAME EXACT story about Clarence Thomas before the lunatics on the right admit Clarence might have been a bit of a perv and serial sexual harasser, but we’re at around a half dozen now. The final quote from McEwen was priceless:
“I have no hostility toward him,” McEwen said. “It is just that he has manufactured a different reality over time. That’s the problem that he has.”
That is pretty much the modern GOP in a nutshell, manufacturing their own reality every day of the week.
As an aside- can you imagine asking a co-worker her breast size? If someone tried that shit with my sister, she would KICK HIS ASS. Girl runs tri-athlons and has guns.
Shouldn’t Adam Savage’s “I reject your reality and substitute my own” be a tag?
Wrong John. She has to set her alarm for 7:00 a.m. October 22, 2031 for Ginny’s call…
Isn’t breast size one thing you don’t have to ask about?
@me: It is now.
Is this just another example of Lillian McEwan trying to embarass Thomas?
88 Lies about 44 Women
Ah, the 80s.
Lordamercy. Poor Ginni. That swamp ain’t gonna drain, sweetie, no matter how hard you try.
Yeah, I would be fired in about 53 seconds if I pulled that crap. But I’m not working in the Reagan White House, where a hierarchy of privilege is the raison de etre.
I don’t understand the kind of guy who asks co-workers about their breast size. But I also don’t understand the kind of guy who tells his girlfriend that he asks co-workers about their breast size! The shamelessness, the failure to grasp that there could be anything wrong about acting this way, that’s what really blows me away.
At work people ask me my penis size all the time. When I tell them, they laugh.
Should I be offended?
I don’t think I’ve ever asked a woman her bra sized… that information tends to be given from the women I’ve cared about over the years.
Does she have a permit?
Cripes, the bra size thing would get me 1. beaten bloody (symbolically at least) and 2. escorted to the sidewalk with a banker’s box of my desk scraps.
p.s. Shoving an underling would receive essentially the same response.
Some people are mo specialer than others.
Call in the countertop inspection team, folks. We’ve got a live one.
Lunatics on the right could give a shit as long as he’s on their side when it comes time to vote.
I posted about this in an earlier thread, but back in the 90’s it took 19 complainants and several other women to finally come forward for Dan Wassong to get in trouble. Two dozen women’s voices = one powerful man’s voice, so good luck to Lillian McEwen. She should not only expect a phone call, I’m sure Malkin’s flying monkeys are on their way to her as we speak.
How impressive that such an accomplished jurist as Clarence Thomas has such a profound understanding of, and appreciation for, workplace law.
Actually, I can imagine it, having worked with some real boors in my time.
Ginni Thomas? Whew….that’s a relief.
I thought you would write a post about these evil outside groups pouring money into these elections or something.
lecherous unionsbenevolent groups are spending more money on the 2010 elections than the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads combined.
But, still. The nerve of these evil corporations to fight and try and keep more of their money, so they can hire more people. The jerks.
Really, I thought you would write a post about that.
@mantis: Ginni was a Jesus Freak/She liked that kind of misery
@trollhattan: Let’s not forget that sexual harassment law was a new development in the 1980s and the culture still hadn’t adjusted in a lot of ways. The EEOC didn’t even recognize sexual harassment as a violation of workplace laws until 1980, and it’s possible the word hadn’t even trickled down from the EEOC to Clarence Thomas’ workplace – wherever that was – by the time these events occurred.
I suppose it depends on the co-worker. I had one that used to show me educational videos about menstruation, complete with theme songs, when she was having her period and then throw Midol at me, too.
But why would anyone even ask? I don’t really know jack about all the bra sizes. I have better things to do with the space of brain I’d use to figure what the letters mean, just saying.
Anita was a black girl
And I was scared of a girl like that
Lillian heard my tales of porn
Sitting down like the Buddha sat
typical, hyper-PC, always-the-victim, liberal whining.
if a judge wants to know about your tits, you tell him – stupid girl!
also. such as.
Basically, we have Glen Quagmire sitting on the Supreme Court.
As someone with a degree in engineering, this sort of socially ignorant behavior doesn’t really shock me. I can seriously imagine a few people I went to school with thinking “What’s your bra size?” as being a pretty suave pickup line. Hopefully they learned about the thoughts you’re not supposed to say out loud before they got fired… or beat up.
If they’re lucky.
It’s still astonishing how incredibly common workplace harassment seems to be in this country. I can’t imagine why that could possibly be.
If an interest in porn and women with big breastesses makes you a serial sex harasser, then about 90% of the men in the world should probably be in prison. The woman quoted here said she had no problem with Thomas’ expression of his deeply held beliefs.
This does not mean that Anita Hill was lying.
But we live in a culture where high school kids send each other text messages about the size of Kim Kardashian’s ass (and her sex tape). The idea that people merely talking about porn constitutes perversion or harassment is, to put it nicely, quaint.
How many women need to come forward before wingers admit Thomas is a scumbag?
Trick question. All women are liars, obviously.
For me, the problem is not that he’s a pervert, the problem is that he FUCKING LIED under oath. A supreme court justice no less.
I wouldn’t much care about how life inside the wingnut bubble ends up warping and deluding wingnuts if the only people it affected was the wingnuts. Unfortunately, they get positions of power and try to force actual reality to conform to what they wish it were, and it hurts everybody. If only they would go Galt….
The spouse of a sitting Supreme Court justice contacted a former witness and asked the witness to apologize for sworn testimony given at a hearing, in anticipation of this book’s release?
Is that about what happened here?
Lillian McEwen should expect Malkin to be peering into her windows very, very soon.
So Ginny’s call is beginning to look like a preemptive strike to have the narrative about how Thomas is a victim out in front of McEwen’s book and to deflect from the obvious lack of ethics in Thomas not recusing himself from the Citizen United decision.
The real tragedy of Clarence Thomas isn’t his history of disgustingly piggish-bordering-on-harassment behavior toward female co-workers and subordinates.
Rather, it’s the fact that Thomas was such an utterly disgraceful, unqualified, disrespectful choice to replace Thurgood Marshall, a man of such immense accomplishment and stature, both as a civil right attorney fighting to end legal segregation, and as a US Supreme Court Justice. Thomas has repeatedly proven over the last twenty years just how disgraceful and destructive he’s been as a Supreme Court Justice. I cannot even look at his picture without feeling immense anger and disgust at this petty, unwise, narrow-minded man with such limited awareness, and cannot look at ex-President George Bush (Sr) without thinking about this singular nasty dis-accompishment.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
We already know the answer to this: The earth has been dropping hints for years that it’s been getting harassed, and the Republican answer is to deny that she’s said anything.
That was snark?
Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle
I’m not sure how many women have to come forward with the SAME EXACT story about Clarence Thomas before the lunatics on the right admit Clarence might have been a bit of a perv and serial sexual harasser,
And the Pukes have shown how much outrage at David Vitter for being a pervert, and for employing a women-beater?
If Lillian McEwen was his lady at the time, I can maybe see why she didn’t come forward to defend Anita Hill against charges of lying, etc. But wasn’t there ONE reporter in all of Washington who didn’t try to ask her whether her honey bun was a bit kinky with his taste in movies?
I agree. Was that snark?
Clarence Thomas was the director of EEOC.
@Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle:
If you loudly believe in and help them propagate their filthy bronze age death cult, you’re forgiven. That way, you can continue doing exactly what you squeal about others doing, but you get to escape both social approbation and hell.
FDR ran around on Eleanor, you know, and Kennedy banged Marilyn Monroe.
I don’t think we know enough to connect dots yet. There is something hinky about this that gives me the creeps.
The call was a threat and intimidation.
Full of WIN.
Maybe if I fell into a time warp and landed back in the 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s… No, probably still not. Mom raised me better than that.
Great. Now I have to decide between Anita Hill or Lillian McEwan for world’s-greatest-monster?
All good liars know that nobody else will believe your story until you believe it yourself.
Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther
can you imagine asking a co-worker her breast size
Oh, John Cole. I appreciate a man who is so genuinely decent that he sometimes can’t imagine the flat out boorish misogyny of other men.
I can’t imagine asking, but having been asked, and knowing other shapely women who have been asked, I can imagine the man doing the asking.
I can imagine the men who would be unable to pick me out of a line-up, because they didn’t look at my face once, and I can imagine the men who have stopped me on the street, or grabbed me in public transport, or made lewd gestures as I passed, all in response to the fact that the Good Lord, in His infinite wisdom, decided to bless me with abundance.
Yes, I can imagine it.
I’m sort of an afficianado of B and C cups, myself.
Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther
PS I know someone who has argued before the Court on frequent occasion, and watched Clarence Thomas fall asleep almost every time.
So, there’s that, too.
The evil corporations fight to keep more money by making sure we don’t keep enough of our own. What they do with it once they’ve stolen it is not our business — move along, there!
So, to put it in your terms, you would see absolutely nothing wrong with a high school teacher sending text messages to his students talking about what kind of porn he likes and how great Kim Kardashian’s ass is? How about if he only sends it to his students who are over 18 — would that be perfectly fine?
There are things that are appropriate to say to your peer group but inappropriate to say to people who are subordinate to you and can’t tell you to STFU like your peer group can. This is so basic that I’m shocked you don’t understand it.
Cheer, up, there’s been some improvement: at a place where I worked from 2003-2005, it “only” took twelve of us, with complaints covering a combined period of eight years, to get an executive-level creep ousted.
If your tongue isn’t firmly in your cheek, it should be. His “workplace” at the time was the EEOC! He probably had last sign-off on the rules produced on that very subject.
Bitches lie. They probably cooked up these stories when they all went to the can together, just like they did in high school.
Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther
@Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:
Staying up till 3 AM every night while surfing YouPorn will do that to a guy.
Culture of Truth
“I have no hostility toward him,” McEwen said. “It is just that he has manufactured a different reality over time.
Interesting, that’s what Orrin Hatch said about Anita Hill
Ginni is a conservative so those rules apply. Any blowback she receives, public or private, as a result of her completely inappropriate telephone call to a former witness are a violation of her First Amendment rights.
@Sanka: you’ve never worked for a large corporation, have you?
Uh, yeah, except all this happened during the quaint time when your porn was printed on paper or magnetic tape, and your shoe-box sized “portable” phone didn’t have a screen to download Kardashian’s ass from the barely existent, text-base intertubes.
Nobody gives a shit about the porn, anyways. It’s the workplace behavior that’s at issue.
Culture of Truth
There’s stuff coming in over the transom about this guy!
That’s pretty much it.
I’m a broken record on this, but now everyone’s talking about anita hill instead of Mrs. Thomas’s political advocacy, and whether it’s appropriate. Gambit worked.
Short Bus Bully
Shorter Clarence Thomas testimony:
“Bitches man… Bitches.”
So did Roberts and Alito—IIRC they said they’d be very respectful of precedent. (Maybe not under oath, but in front of Congress and all…)
I’m thinking her motivation was misdirected anger, triggered by something he did. Call the one person who really understands what a dirtbag he is.
Uh, that post is about Bill Clinton. Maybe you should figure out how hyperlinks work.
Culture of Truth
I’m reminded of the Saturday Night Live skit of the Thomas hearings in the Senators debated ways to pick up women. Phil Hartman was Ted Kennedy (“take your pants off”) Al Franken played Sen. Paul Simon, who insisted women like the bow tie.
Dana Carvey stole it as Strom Thurmond telling the committee that women like soft porn which allows them to fantasize, and don’t like hard core porn, “thas jus never gonna turm em on!!!!”
When talking about Conservatives let me remind everyone: IS FEATURE NOT BUG.
Perversely enough, I can imagine the Thomas’s sitting at the breakfast table, coming to the mutual decision that they have to reignite his image as a lecherous perv to draw attention away from the conflicts of interest inherent in his presence on the court.
The “under oath” distinction isn’t supposed to matter to conservative lawyers. They say the one oath they took covers everything. Attorney General Gonzales relied on that, you might recall. He’s “always” under oath, according to him.
@Nellcote: @Linda Featheringill: @ed drone: facepalm!
I pray the Thomas’ marriage will endure this rough patch by summoning the strength to put the blame on others.
The call to Anita Hill is an example of Mrs. Thomas’ political advocacy.
So, how big are your sister’s guns?
Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony
Um. Good morning, Ginny Thomas, this is Sister Machine Gun. I just wanted to reach across the air waves and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with the Tea Party and other conservative groups. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day.
@Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:
I’ve been wondering about that. Why does the guy have such a hard time staying awake? He seems to fall asleep constantly everywhere. Maybe he sedates himself a lot to be too groggy to act on his perv compulsions and get in trouble again. On second thought, it’s more likely Ginni is sedating him without his knowledge.
@liberal: They had their fingers crossed behind their backs, so it didn’t count.
No wonder he’s so quiet on the bench during arguments, you know where his head’s at.
No. Up to 100m visually I can quickly and accurately assess cup size. For those beyond that range it would be a little odd to yell out the question. Obviously Thomas is challenged in more ways than one.
You guys do realize that the reason the Right fought so hard to get Thomas confirmed is because uppity Liberals bitched and moaned about Robert Bork’s nomination that Bork didn’t get confirmed.
I mean it’s all the liberals fault for standing up for what they believe in, with regards to derailing the Bork nomination that caused the right-wingers to put up such a weak candidate in Thomas, to replace Marshall.
I can’t imagine asking a coworker her breast size. Nor have I ever been asked my penis size.
Let’s not forget that sexual harassment law was a new development in the 1980s and the culture still hadn’t adjusted in a lot of ways. The EEOC didn’t even recognize sexual harassment as a violation of workplace laws until 1980, and it’s possible the word hadn’t even trickled down from the EEOC to Clarence Thomas’ workplace – wherever that was – by the time these events occurred.
Umm, you know where Clarence Thomas’s workplace was? The EEOC. Yep, he was Chairman of the EEOC from 1982 to 1990. So, y’know, I think he might have been a wee bit familiar with workplace laws during the 1980s…..
Reposted to get around the idiotic filter:
I can’t imagine asking a coworker her breast size. Nor have I ever been asked my p_oenis size.
Great, now I’m going to have nightmares tonight about what it would have been like to have Bork on the Supreme Court all of this time instead of Thomas. Thanks a lot.
I think the only positive aspect of this stupid incident is that it may (emphasis on may) make more people aware of Clarence Thomas’ conflict of interest on an upcoming SCOTUS case.
Anita called him on the carpet
But she’s the one left with the burn
Lillian chose to stay silent
She wasn’t the one feeling harmed
Ginni’s bottle started feeling its oats
Decided to dredge up some bygone ghosts
Hey, I can stay awake just fine.
props for the nails reference in your title
@Short Bus Bully: And sittin around the Gas-n-Sip on a Friday night with absolutely no women around.
So the mean girls must have left Ginny out when they went to pee, eh? Is this what this is all about – that early exclusion leading to a lifetime of promoting corporatism and fundamentalism?
Best case outcome: Ginni finds out that Hill told the truth, and shoots Thomas in the junk.
Medical human interest: Thomas is back to work the next day.
Oh, come off of it. We’re talking about the workplace, here. Plenty of men (and women) have an interest in porn and in big boobies, but they are intelligent and professional enough to know not to discuss those particular interests in a work setting, particularly not with subordinates.
Asking a woman at work about her bra size? Do you genuinely have such a low opinion of men that you think 90% of the men in the world would be boorish and unprofessional enough to actually do that?
Damn, I thought we were rid of you.
You mean, keep more of their money so they can buy back stock, don’t you? Maybe companies are hiring in the bizarre parallel universe where you live, but it certainly isn’t happening in this one.
The Hon C. Thomas
@Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:
Blah, blah,blah. Tell us more about your juggs.
“What’s your bra size?”
I thought that’s an inside question. Though I must admit that I dropped it a few times myself.
Paul in KY
@bemused: I think he’s just an arrogant POS who knows it doesn’t matter what the oral arguments are..he’ll just ask Ginny or Scalia how to vote.
God, I hate GHWB.
@Brachiator: But that a man (who is this woman’s boss) keeps talking about it, even after a woman asks him to stop, continuously talks about his sexual exploits to a woman who has turned him down, does it again and again, in spite of her more than apparent disinterest and discomfort, would label him a social idiot at best, and a serial harasser no matter what. Does someone need to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s for you, for you to get it?
ellaesther: Yep. Also. Too.
Where in the world did you get such an absurd idea? You make up a bizarre hypothetical that is totally irrelevant to anything I posted. By any measure, an adult posting sexual images or messages to minors is not simply “inappropriate,” it is and should be illegal. The variation of your example has more to do with your own imagination than with anything I posted, so I will just leave it to you.
And I’m shocked that you just blithely make shit up here. Strictly speaking, most rules about sexual harassment cover peer-to-peer as well as superior-to-subordinate remarks and behavior. And even non-behavior. Some of the most necessary regulations regarding harassment have come about as a reaction to peer-to-peer remarks which were perceived to be demeaning in situations where superiors were informed but did nothing to protect the harassed worker.
Being able to tell someone to STFU is insufficient in a workplace environment where workers generally cannot enforce such a demand without risking their continued employment or their health and safety. This is so basic that I’m shocked that you don’t understand it.
Still, you are on to something here, which does relate to my original point. Common sense can recognize some context where a remark may be appropriate or not appropriate. Laws and regulations are not as flexible.
And stepping back into the world of common sense, remarks alone don’t make a person a perv or serial harasser, especially where some of the people present go on record as saying that they did not find the remarks particularly offensive.
And again, for the sake of those who are too dense for the room, this does not in any way diminish Anita Hill’s particular claims.
Brachiator, you really are an idiot. A man who’s hit on a woman, who is her boss, and she’s rebuffed him, REPEATEDLY (I put that in large script to be sure you could get that, with your limited reading comprehension), asking what her bra size is? Seriously, how big of a knucklehead are you?
Serious question, which I haven’t seen addressed in any of the news coverage or discussions (it’s possible it was mentioned and I just missed it):
Who was it who actually released the story of the Phone Call to the media? I can’t imagine that Anita Hill would have welcomed the renewed publicity and attention. But I don’t *think* Ginni Thomas did (she confirmed it once word got out but I don’t think she was the original source) — although arguably she would have the most compelling reason(s) to do so, as a preemptive strike against the forthcoming book or a likely series of bimbo eruptions or simply to change the subject from her family’s massive conflicts of interest.
Was it leaked?
Did the Brandeis cops or FBI release it?
Anybody know or willing to speculate?
I can’t even imagine asking my girlfriend her breast size. Why would I? The only reason I can think of would be to get her bras, and women should do their own shopping for those so that they fit properly.
Too bad this is all about 20 years too late.
I hope that the commenters who don’t seem too concerned about his reported behavior aren’t serious. Although this individual was dating him, her statements are supportive of Professor Hill because he was speaking about how related to women at work. Not only was his behavior unseemly and inappropriate, especially in one who was then working for the EEOC and who was seeking appointment to the highest judicial office in the country, it would certainly be prohibited as conduct leading to sexual harassment.
I don’t know that Mrs. Thomas has succeeded, if indeed her intent was to distract people from her own troubling engagement in politics. I was unaware of her political activities until she left the voice mail for Professor Hill.
@Shalimar: Yes, that’s tantamount to buying shoes for someone. The woman has to know how it fits since the form at each manufacturer will be different and you never know how the seams and other structural bits might fit.
My wife recently bought two pairs of shoes for our son (6 y.o. so he doesn’t really care what he’s got) and wondered why he didn’t wear them. He said one pair slips and the other isn’t comfortable. “But they’re your size,” was her reply. I jumped in and said, “Remember when I got you that lingerie set and the bra was all wrong? It was the right size.” I took my son back, exchanged the shoes and had him fitted. Of course, Marvel Comics got a decent cut on those Spidey shoes – turns out 6 y.o.s do care what they wear if they have a say in the matter.
What would be interesting would be if anyone came out to describe similar conduct by him since he’s been on the bench. Wonder if he’s changed his m.o. working with women while a Supreme?
This is what you said:
Funny, that sounds a whole lot like you saying it’s no big deal if your boss — or, yes, your co-workers — insist on talking about porn in the office because, hey, porn is no big deal these days, so what are you wimmins getting so upset about?
Since you indignantly denied that was what you meant, WTF did you actually mean?
Roger that. Among other things, my first boss told staff of an outside consulting firm that I “didn’t like men” because I told him that I did not like the back rubs he insisted on giving me and other women in the office. (Boy, did I understand Angela Merkel’s response to Dubya.) 30 years and I still bristle when I think of him. Maybe I should try to give him a call on Saturday morning and apologize to him.
@Mnemosyne: You got it.
“[M]erely talking about porn” in the workplace will likely be cause for discipline in any reasonable workplace and is potentially actionable sexual harassment. Asking a woman co-worker to tell you her breast size is not only dumb and socially backward, it can also land you in hot water with your employer and/or the EEOC or your local human rights agency. Does anyone really still not know this?
The Hon C. Thomas
But it was the ’80s. Things were different then. Whatcha wearing?
Uncle Clarence Thomas
I deny the allegation, and I deny the alligator!
It’s a croc!!
RE: If an interest in porn and women with big breastesses makes you a serial sex harasser, then about 90% of the men in the world should probably be in prison.
I got no problem with sexual harassment laws, but I also note that a lot of Balloon Juice posters are pearl-clutchers who have either lived very white bread lives or have blanked out the years they spent hanging out in biker bars.
I used to work in an office that hired a lot of seasonal temps. During the off season, things were loose and the people with the pottiest mouths were consistently the women (especially, oddly enough, a woman who was a former Marine). We would have meetings before the temps came in to remind the permanent staff to be more restrained to make sure that no remarks or actions were misinterpreted. But during the height of the work period, some temps had to be counselled about sneaking off to have loud noisy sex in a back restroom. And then there were the sluts (male and female).
During the off season, my boss once talked long and loudly about going on vacation with friends and family and acting as the official “c_ck blocker.”
My boss was a woman.
My opinion of people is generally neither low nor high; but I don’t rate dirty consensual conversation as particularly signifying a lack of professionalism. I don’t rate simply overhearing crude remarks as signifying much of anything.
Remarks continually directed at a person who asks not to be subjected to them is another thing altogether, which is something that I have continually made clear here.
I understand that some people believe that human beings should become asexual creatures once you declare an area to be “the workplace.” People who believe such fairy tales will inevitably be disappointed.
I’ve known people who work in offices where all kinds of shenanigans have gone on. The newspaper business, where I spent a lot of years, was particularly hard working, hard drinking, hard gambling, hard drugging and hard fornicating.
I used to ask my friends who got into the biggest huffs about the supposed neutrality of the workplace to explain exactly how it came about that they met, dated and hooked up with their significant other (who was sometimes a former superior or subordinate) if anything having to do with sex was so forbidden in that merry land known as “The Workplace.”
I have yet to hear anyone offer an answer that makes a lick of sense.
@Brachiator: Your comments are a spoof, right?
@blondie: Maybe he works for the wonderboys at the Tribune? Maybe American Apparel? You know — the best and the brightest in our new wonderland of Economic Perfection.
As I said before when this first broke. Ginny isn’t calling Anita for an apology – that was an opening for a conversation. Ginny knows Anita didn’t lie, but wants confirmation. Something has happened lately.
Even wingnuts get cheated on.
Ginni – “If Clarence is such a sex obsessed pervert, why does he never have sex with me?”
For the record, Adam Savage stole that line from the ’80s b-flick THE DUNGEONMASTER.
RE: The idea that people merely talking about porn constitutes perversion or harassment is, to put it nicely, quaint.
Funny. I was fairly precise in what I wrote, which is why I wonder exactly how you could veer off into reveries of high school teachers sexting their students.
I also never wrote anything making reacting to porn the special responsibility of women.
Very simply, I reacted to the hyperbole in John Cole’s comment. Talking dirty does not automatically make a person a perv or a serial harasser. Plain and simple. Anita Hill was credible. Plain and simple. Mrs Justice Thomas is a fool. Plain and simple.
And yeah, the attitudes of the younger generation toward porn may well redefine how they look at all kinds of issues. Do you really think that college age (and younger) people who laughed about “Two Girls One Cup” think about porn the same way that you do?
@Brachiator: A government agency, let alone the frickin’ EEOC, ought not to be run like the loading dock at Wal-Mart.
Damn shame for Ginni. She had to go stick her foot into that 19-year-old pile of dogshit. Too bad it stinks even worse now than it did then.
Can you say “hoist on your own petard, ” Ginni?
Clearly you weren’t nearly as precise as you seem to think since I’m not the only one who saw your words as saying that sexual harassment is no big deal because high school kids send text messages to each other.
Talking dirty to someone who is your subordinate and doesn’t have the power to ask you to stop automatically makes you a perv and usually a serial harasser. Plain and simple. The fact that you worked at a job where sexual talk was normalized doesn’t change that, any more than working at a job where ethnic slurs were common would change the fact that most people would find it to be a hostile workplace.
It really has nothing to do with asexuality and more to do with general appropriateness in the workplace. It sounds like the office you worked in was pretty laid back (and somewhat awesome), but I think it’s pretty clear that your experience is far from the norm in most workplaces in this country.
So, yes, frank sexual discussions in the workplace are generally going to be discouraged and frowned upon.
At most offices, they will be expected to check their attitudes towards porn at the door, I’d imagine.
Nobody asks a woman about her bra size because he’s curious or is seeking information. Asking bra size, translated, is “Bitch, you walk around with those tits, and maybe you’re the supervisor, or maybe you’re the temp, or maybe you just landed a huge account. Big fucking deal. You are still walking around with those tits. I’m looking at them, and here I am telling you I’m looking at them, and because of those tits you ultimately have no credibility, because the worst that anyone is going to think of me is, ‘Huh, that’s weird. Why would he ask a question like that?’ Nobody except someone with those tits is really bothered by that, because having those tits changes you from a person to a person with tits. Yup. Not really a real person at all”.
The language I’ve heard on loading docks is pristine to the language I’ve heard used in law offices, entertainment industry offices, newspapers and other purely white collar environments.
A number of posters react as though I think Anita Hill was hallucinating even though I made sure in almost every post to note that I was on her side. Clearly, the issue is not my lack of precision.
Not in the law or in common sense. I also note that you totally discount what Lillian McEwen says, i.e, that she was not particularly bothered by Thomas’ remarks. You insist on seeing her as powerless, or unable to speak for herself, or a liar, or somehow unable to assess the situation that she was in. Very odd.
You have no idea. And it’s not just one job, or only places that I have worked. And some of these places have had reputations as great liberal establishments. Go figure. But as I say, life is complicated, like the boutique entertainment companies that don’t do drug tests because some of the best applicants, and few of the regular staff, could ever pass them, but which have official “zero tolerance” drug policies.
But at the best places I’ve worked, adults can distinguish between some fairly raunchy general conversation, including Yo Mamma jokes in Spanish and all manner of ethnic humor, and the unacceptable, i.e., hostile remarks directed at a specific person.
Why do McEwen’s feelings towards Clarence Thomas have anything to do with whether or not Anita Hill was harassed? She was Thomas’ girlfriend, not his subordinate, so she and Hill were not remotely in the same position.
WTF are you talking about? Again, McEwen was not Thomas’ subordinate. She was his girlfriend. Rational people understand that you can say things to your girlfriend that you can’t say to your co-workers or subordinates.
@Brachiator: I’m unclear about why it is so important for you to make this point, repeatedly, and so caustically. Life is complicated. I get it. It’s best to take things on a case by case basis. I get it. Rules are arbitrary but necessary – you’ve got to have a baseline. After that, we have to use our discretion. We have to think about shit every single day, it doesn’t stop, we can’t hand it over to someone else, we have to think about stuff and use our discretion every day. I get it.
Tell me how you’d like me to react to your posts. What am I not getting?
Here’s what the article says about McEwen and Thomas:
He was never her boss. He was her boyfriend.
I suspect Brachiator has somehow gotten the impression that McEwen was a co-worker of Hill’s or a former employee of Thomas’. She was not. She was Thomas’ girlfriend and never worked for or with him.
Poor Steve. I thought I was in the Washington Monthly comments section for a minute when I saw all the earnest people rushing to set you straight. Facepalm indeed.
That’s awesome. I run a law office and if I heard a guy asking a female colleague her bra size, it would be his last day on the job. I guess we must just be super-strict.
There is no normal office environment where the boss makes a habit of telling female subordinates about the porn he watched over the weekend. I am not denying that such places exist, and you may have had the good fortune to work in twenty of them for all I know. But they are, by definition, dysfunctional workplaces, where a lawsuit is waiting to happen.
The argument, as far as I know, is not that Clarence Thomas is the only man in the history of mankind to behave boorishly in the workplace. I believe the argument was that his behavior was ridiculously out of bounds.
I’m sure Mataconis has good reasons (THAT HE HAS NO INTENTION OF SHARING WITH YOU) to disbelieve this woman, too.
I’ve been wondering about this for the last couple of days. I think things might actually have been better in some ways. Bork wasn’t stealthy about what he thought and why, which was a large part of his nomination problems. It’s kind of hard to argue with Thomas’s reasoning when it isn’t often articulated. Bork let it all hang out, and it often wasn’t pretty. He would have changed the arguments inside and out of the courtroom. I think people might have had a different view of the court and the issues in ways that might have improved the outcomes. Sometimes the most virulent attack ends up being self limiting by the reaction it causes.
Of course there isn’t a direct line from Bork to Thomas, but there were a number of Bork references during his nomination from his supporters as well as the horse race crowd.
Notice how he also doesn’t mention that those particular white-collar environments tend to be infected with a childish “He Man Woman Haters Club” mentality more than most workplaces. I’m in entertainment and it’s true — you often have to do a lot of vague smiling while the people who sign your paycheck make offensive jokes.
(Not in my current office, thank goodness, but there have been others …)
Yeah, I have been pretty lucky. But where I’ve worked is not atypical (at least, not atypical for Southern California or New York or San Francisco).
I totally agree. But also, people often find ways to skirt or to ignore or to outright violate the official rules and still manage to create a generally workable atmosphere in which people are respected. I guess it’s a “letter” vs “the spirit” of the law thing.
@Mnemosyne: John Cole began this thread by quoting Lillian McEwen. And even though she quotes Thomas as asking a woman about her breast size, she does not state (in John’s snippet) that he generally talked to female subordinates about porn. But the implication is that if he talked to McEwen about his taste in porn, he must also have done so with other women, and so must be pervy.
And yes, Thomas is probably a pig.
@Larkspur: I agree that it’s best to take things on a case by case basis, and obviously you see that life is complicated. But the pretense that “workplace equals no sex, please” not only ignores complications, but is also a lie. That’s all I’m saying. I also wondered whether the current crop of young people and people who will soon be adults, see the world in the same way as people who were adults during the time of the Thomas hearings, in part because some younger people almost take the existence of porn for granted. It’s just part of their environment. I don’t have a huge opinion about how they should see the world. But even this minor rumination is apparently upsetting to some.
@Steve: I don’t think you are necessarily super strict. But I know a guy who works for one of the most powerful law offices in L.A. He represents big corporations when their products cause injury or death. His job is to make sure that the victims get as little as possible, without regard to the corporation’s culpability. I don’t particularly like this guy, by the way. But there is a lot of drinking, drugs and sex in his office. And people want to work there, even though they know what the atmosphere is like.
Sorry, I find these people to be especially despicable. There are offices where banter is equal, and offices where it is used by the people in power, usually men, but also a few women, to emphasize their control over people. Not only subordinates, but people who need to do business with them.
Obviously, you understand that the entertainment industry is filled with people who love to toy with underlings and anyone they perceive to be less powerful.
You should probably read the whole thing, because you are jumping to all kinds of silly conclusions about what you think McEwen might have said in the article. There’s a link. Go read it.
Well, given that we have Anita Hill’s sworn testimony that he talked to her about porn and you keep claiming that you believe her, I’m not sure what your point is. Are you arguing that it’s not pervy to discuss porn with your subordinates even after they ask you to stop doing it?
And yet you’re making excuses for Clarence Thomas and trying to argue that discussing porn with your subordinates while you’re the head of the EEOC is not a problem.
I wish GRACE UNDER FIRE was available online or on DVD. Brett Butler had some great material there about sexual harrassment in the workplace — managing to be sympathetic to the male ‘dinosaurs’ without for one second giving them a pass not to change or die.
Also, too, I think there’s a slightly higher standard of conduct expected from people working at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office than there is at, say, Chiat/Day. Or pretty much any ordinary office, really.
Memo to Self:
Do not ask Ms Cole her bra size at workplace.
Do not try to run away after asking Ms Cole her bra size.
Do not try to bicycle away after asking Ms Cole her bra size.
Do not try to swim away after asking Ms Cole her bra size.
If learn how to fly, remember not to be a jerk just cause can.