read the piece that within minutes inspired a man to send me an email calling me “toots”!!!!!!! https://t.co/CddvHijrPQ
— Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) April 5, 2021
Back when I was in high school, my slightly younger brothers and their Boy Scout friends used to attempt to gross me out with stories about ‘fun’ camping trips where they (allegedly) tortured small animals, and each other. None of these mostly-harmless younglings would admit to being responsible when I confronted them individually, but when you got more than two of them in one room, Mark Twain’s theory of mob behavior ruled. BUT THAT WAS FIFTY YEARS AGO, MEN!
There are several details of the Matt Gaetz story that keep sticking in my head, but the one that sticks in it most is the report that the Florida Republican used to wander around and show his colleagues nude photos of people he had slept with. There’s a kind of grim weirdness to the idea of these interactions (which Gaetz denies) — a very “I Read On eHow.com That Men Bond Over Conquests” bewilderment. The callousness and the violation involved are enough of a sock to the gut. But the fact that this was allegedly known about him is what keeps getting to me. The fact that this, or something in this neighborhood of bad, occasioned senior staff from then-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office to have a talk with Gaetz about professional behavior.
Over all of this I keep hearing the uncomfortable laughter of Billy Bush. I keep coming back to the fact that it takes two to make a locker room…
To me, this is something you do, ideally, zero times. You never experience the impulse to do it, and you lead a pleasant life. You travel. You eat lunchmeat sandwiches. Maybe you do a marathon, or climb something. You lead a blithe existence for many decades, you die in your bed in your mid-nineties surrounded by your cherished relatives, and in all that time, you never walk up to a colleague on the floor of the House of Representatives and out of nowhere present him with a nude photograph of someone you claim to have had sex with.
But if you can’t do it zero times, then ideally it happens only once. It happens only once, because the moment you do it, the person you show it to responds the way a person should respond. You produce your photograph to your colleague, and your colleague looks at you and says, “Never show that to anyone, ever again. Go home and rethink your life. I do not feel closer to you. If anything, I want to have you removed forcibly from my presence by strong gentlemen whose biceps are tattooed with ‘MOM.’ The fact that you thought this would make us closer makes me question every decision in my life that has led me to this point. Leave now and never come back.”…
… I am not writing this for Matt Gaetz. I am talking to the person who was on the receiving end. The person who was presented with this behavior and had a choice of how to respond. I am talking to the person without whose chuckle or back-slap this situation would, perhaps, have been just a little less bad.
This is a plea for those small awkward no’s. The moment will inevitably come for you to offer one. And when I think of how much difference could be made by just one person, one guy in a locker room, or around a campfire, or even on the floor of Congress, saying, uncomfortably, “What?” or “Why would you show someone that?” — sometimes I want to chew glass. It is a small favor to ask. But it could reshape this whole place, if it happened enough.
I dunno. Maybe just Republicans are trash?
I lift with a Russian immigrant who no one is going to mistake for a feminist. We had breakfast recently after a year of mostly not seeing each other. He’s been super excited to show me pictures of his girlfriend. All of them are the two of them as a couple except one instance where she was holding a gift he’d gotten her. Fully clothed, naturally.
Like who tf are these people, and what are they saying back to Matt?
Maybe Steve Largent, the then-Representative who pulled Boehner aside to explain it was bad form to pass out envelopes of PAC money on the House floor, could be flown in for a encore performance.
Ms. Petri’s not wrong…that behavior happens because other men WON’T push back on it.
Gaetz is a Trumpist asshole. I would strongly suspect any “friends” he has in Congress are also Trumpists who celebrate the kind of swaggering assholery their cult leader has modeled his whole life.
Jefferson and Adams exchanged letters in the early nineteenth century lamenting the quality of members of Congress. It’s been downhill since then.
Wasn’t there just recently a meme trend thing going around where guys were saying, “Don’t be that guy”? What happened to guys who didn’t want to be that guy?
Sister Golden Bear
I wonder to whom in Congress Gaetz showed those naked pictures. I tend to think it was fellow Republicans, the ones he’d think likely to share his proclivities, or at least vicariously enjoy his tales thereof.
I also wonder which of those members of Congress might see political profit in exposing a little-loved flamethrower in ther ranks.
I’ve always called this type of male behavior “Wolf Pack Mentality” and am in no way minimizing Twain’s theory.
My interactions with men in groups and individually boils down to the same thing: one-on-one, they are “usually” decently-acting human beings. More than one at a time and they feel the compunction to act out their levels of testosterone poisoning for the benefit of one another.
As a group, they seem to need to identify the “weakest” member and turn on it, hence the “wolf-pack” analogy. YMMV
Unfortunately, I too concur. Gaetz gets away with this because his male peer group tolerates it, and often even covers for it.
Have they no fathers, no brothers; cousins, uncles?
We used to hang people who molested women: fair trial, fair hangin’ …
No we didn’t. We used to hang nonwhite people who were accused of molesting white women. White people (and by people I mean “men”) had pretty much carte blanche (ahem) to molest whoever they wanted. It was even considered a legitimate strategy of property management.
And in Israeli political news, President Reuben Rivlin just gave the mandate to try to form a governing coalition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu had received the recommendations of 52 out of 120 Knesset members, from four parties. Mr. Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party received recommendations from 45 MKs from five parties. It is thought that Lapid and Naftali Bennett, of the right wing Yamina party, will try to form a coalition to govern if Netanyahu cannot. But a fifth Israeli election in three years is a likely outcome.
“I have the impression that no leader will be able to form a coalition,” said Rivlin.
Meanwhile, the evidentiary phase of Netanyahu’s corruption trial has entered a second day of testimony.
I think a dear friend has the best idea: lock them all in a cave with Netflix and power tools. Take one out when you need car repair or such.
@MagdaInBlack: Or maybe learn to repair your own damn car.
@Mudbrush: Have some coffee, you seem touchy this morning ?
I know this is clinically incorrect, but Matt Gaetz fits my notion of a sex addict far more than that sexually frustrated mass murderer down in Georgia. I’m guessing that when Gaetz finally goes down, (no pun intended), he’ll record a tearful message to his constituents, blaming all the bad, predatory behavior on his addiction.
It shouldn’t be difficult. It’s not like you have to yell at the person or even be subtle or clever. Just ask him to stop showing them to you. If everyone he assaulted with his phone had said that, Gaetz would have gotten a clue that his behavior was deviant behavior. Sociology 101.
@Geminid: Right now the evidentiary phase of Netanyahu’s corruption trial is focused on one of the three charges: that in exchange for helping a newspaper in a circulation war with a rival, Netanyah bargained for favorable coverage. It appears that Netanyahu’s aides were very insistent about the favorable coverage.
The Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post provide good reporting of these stories. The liberal Haaretz gives more depth, but is paywalled. Newcomers get a few articles free. Haaretz offers a first month’s subscription for a dollar, a deal I may take this Fall, when the fifth Israeli election in 30 months will likely be held.
@JWR: I’m not a trained psychologist, so this is just a layperson’s opinion, but I’ve always thought the “sex addict” diagnosis was a bunch of hooey anyway. I know people have huge psychological issues around sex, but classifying behavior like the GA murderer’s and potentially Gaetz’s predatory behavior using the language of addiction doesn’t sit right with me.
Fred Clark had a good comment on this:
It’s never happened to me, but while I’m sure I wouldn’t find the right words if a co-worker showed me naked pix of anyone, I think my stunned “wtf, dude?” reaction and body language would convey the idea that I would not welcome a repeat.
Before I retired, I worked in a job that was rife with toxic masculinity, in an extremely conservative area. The pressure to conform to the mores of those around me was intense, and exhausting.
I never experienced Gaetz-level racism and misogyny, but there were plenty of incidents of lesser evil. I would love to report that I stood up and denounced it every time I encountered it, but that would not be true. But neither did I join in and participate in the “wolf pack” behavior, and my disgust and disapproval were on display for any of them to register, if they had the capacity to be aware of others feelings. By just not joining “the boys”, I was an outcast, and it made my job all the more difficult. I’d like to think that by not joining in, and letting my disapproval be known, that I was advancing a more enlightened outlook- change happens slowly, until a threshold is reached, at which point change cannot be stopped. I hope and believe we are at that threshold now.
Did I mention how exhausting it was to be immersed in that culture?
ETA: as lowtechcyclist said in #21…
@Betty Cracker: It’s not an addiction.It’s juvenile score-keeping. Those girls are trophies: proof how manly he is. I also have the opinion ” those that gotta brag all the time, aint actually doin'”
You must have been in sales. ?
Enhanced Voting Techniques
What’s the viewer demographic of Sex in the City?
Enhanced Voting Techniques
He’s already blamed Bill Clinton for it.
Considering how the Republican base reacted to Trump being accused of much worse behavior I find it hard to believe Gaetz is going away message will be anything but “You see, white men are the real victims!”
@debbie: no, but my job entailed facilitating issues between my company and our vendors- exhausting enough without the toxic bullshit.
Just from observing the people I’ve known with this problem… You know the meme from The Good Place, where the chaos character chirps “I have a problem… I throw a bomb… boom, a whole different problem!”? Sex addicts, from what I’ve seen, replace ‘throw a bomb’ with ‘take out my genitals’. It’s a way for someone prone to addictive behavior (or who grew up among addicts) to Not Deal with their existing problems. Stuck in a job you hate? Can’t stand up to your abusive family? Spouse nagging you about your drinking / toking / eating issues? Commit an inappropriate sexual act (masturbate during a work Zoom session, if you can’t hang around a bar) — boom! Whole different problem!
I think Gillette put out an ad to that effect a couple of years ago, and the collective howls of the Gaetzes of the world could be heard on the moon. Lesson: Do NOT suggest assholes should think about not being assholes.
If there’s a reasonable chance something can be treated, I’m fine with it being labeled an addiction. It’s not OK for it to only serve as an excuse and/or for the criminal action not to be penalized.
Understood. I was in sales and marketing for 15 years. That good ol’ boy bullshit was wearing, to say the least.
@MagdaInBlack: I’ve also seen someone suggest that humans manage ourselves like we do most of our domestic animals: castrate 95% of the males.
I think they were joking, but I didn’t follow up.
Republicans and in particular Republicans in Congress are a morally bankrupt lot.
I don’t want to hear about the “faith” and how they are “pro life” – they are neither.
@Ken: There is a reason stallions have to be kept in the stall.
Hey, Alexandra Petri, now do white racism. Much of the racism we white people do comes in the form of silence and defensiveness.
I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past, and I’m going to work at doing better.
@Enhanced Voting Techniques:
Missed that one. How did he manage that?
It’s the business card scene in American Psycho, only with nudes.
Sociopaths do not respond to normal social cues in normal ways.
How about “Yo if I wanted to make you feel small I’d show you a picture of MY dick”? :)
Practically, I’d be more likely to say “Yo what the hell dude, that’s not my business”, which it isn’t.
When they show these pictures, is their dick in the picture? Or is it just the hapless conquest?
I hopped into a pipe fitters truck at the crack of dawn and the new guy shoved his phone in my face with some gruesome porn playing. I’m like what the fuck, you don’t know me, get that out of my face. My buddy the driver said I told you to cut that shit out. It ain’t hard to shut that crap down.
there is tremendous pressure among whites to ‘go along to get along’ and then there is the pressure to conform to remain viable in your job. I’ve seen many of my friends knowingly look the other way because they wanted a raise or promotion. I’ve been the victim of pushing back against microaggression myself. I know it has cost me jobs, promotions and raises*. There were times I laid low and times I decided I couldn’t anymore. None of us gets it right all the time – but trying counts so don’t beat up on yourself too much. Just go out everyday and try some more.
*Weirdly, the most punitive bosses or co-workers I’ve experienced are the ones who consider themselves the most “woke” but are the least willing to endanger their own places of privilege and/or are completely unable to recognize their own microaggressions because it’s too damaging to their self-image to imagine they could be participating in such rude and offensive behavior. Their response for being called out is typically to punish the one pointing out their behavior by calling them unprofessional and then deny them advancement based on their lack of leadership or because they behave hysterically – in other words, “how dare you challenge my authority!” In some ways I find them far more exhausting than the overtly racist and misogynistic co-workers.
@Salty Sam: It is exhausting. It is emotionally exhausting. It’s tiring whether you are actively being a spearhead for change, or whether you are just reacting and recoiling from these emotional aggressions by others.
I don’t know if you feel that your reactions resulted in a difference there in that workplace, but I like to think that every time a decent person does something either courageous, or simply resists and doesn’t give in, they give “permission” to another person to do the same.
Not everyone has the courage to be the one to break the pattern, but a lot of people are able to follow when they see the first guy resist.
@lowtechcyclist: Hmm, now that you mention it, I wonder if that’s part of the point. Bond with your fellow misogynists, and freak out / chest-poke the decent guys as a dominance display. What’s for a sociopath not to love.