The New York Times’ reactionary sexual harassment campaign runs into opposition


About the Author
David Walsh is a senior arts, culture & film critic for 

Original comments from the NYTimes our editors think are deserving of note


If someone makes a pass which can be freely rejected without consequences and that’s the end of it then (to me) it’s not much of a problem even if maybe not terribly appropriate in a work environment. As soon as there are negative consequences for rejection then there’s very much a problem.


Great, insightful, thoughtful piece!
When men who pray on the vulnerable are called to account and the incidence of such behavior in the future is reduced, there is only one appropriate word, and that is hallelujah!

However, the way this “Me Too” zeitgeist is going, stripping away context and process and even human nature and even sometimes male innocence, makes women, once again, equivalent with children.
We don’t care about context when it comes to the molestation of children for a reason, and that reason is that children are incompetent to reason out what’s going on so as to take care of themselves.
The infantilization of women is a deep root (see, for example, the treatment of women in almost every religion) of how humanity came to have this problem in the first place.
If we want to increase respect for women in a lasting way, we, that is, men and women, need to do some things differently here.

Ken Morris

If someone makes a pass at a subordinate employee, how is the subordinate supposed to know whether or not it can be rejected with consequence? Down the road, how can he know whether or not he’s experiencing consequences from the rejection? People shouldn’t make passes at people over whom they exercise power in the workplace. Period.

beth reese

I couldn’t agree more with Ms. Merkin. There is an inquisitional whiff around-I have been calling it “sexual Mccarthyism.” Yes there are real, monstrous predators out there and they should be outed, but there also seems to be a whole lot of collateral damage happening too-careers and reputations are being destroyed on evidence that seems flimsy at best. There also seems to be a divide between young women and women my age (60+) in attitudes toward the accusations being leveled against men. Younger women seem to believe that any man charged with any level of sexual harassment and/or misconduct MUST be guilty, while most of the women my age say, wait, let’s hear the evidence before passing judgement. Possibly this view of the present situation comes from living through and reading about the age of Joe mcCarthy, where reputations, careers and lives could be destroyed with a sentence.

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10 thoughts on “The New York Times’ reactionary sexual harassment campaign runs into opposition

  1. All is true what Walsh says about the oppressive structure of Western societies. And that there are far larger crimes committed daily in repression and extortion of surplus value, to speak within the correct class struggle terms. However, it is not as Walsh himself states in his last sentence a matter of sexual transgressions or unwanted advances but as commentator Morris correctly writes that it is a matter of power abuse. No woman how rich or famous is immune from being discriminated against and one has only to transplant ‘black’ and ‘of color’ where it says ‘woman’ and ‘female’ to get the gist of the power game. What needs to be deconstructed if you will, is the present noxious structure of Western societies that are graded according to financial and muscle power. The primitive image of a strong man clubbing a woman and dragging her back into his cage is more fodder for cartoons than really a civilized respect for another person’s dignity. Getting rid of super imposing one’s will on the less powerful other is a first step towards the desired liberty, equality and fraternity, now so sadly lacking on every level so do not impugn the women who assert themselves but support them and respect them as ‘working’ women do not have the time, or the energy left after their struggle for basic survival to protest. That is unfortunately still left to those who can afford it.

  2. “…sexual interest is inherently messy and, frankly, nonconsensual—one person, typically the man, bites the bullet by expressing interest in the other, typically the woman—whether it happens at work or at a bar…”

    Online matchmaker websites are a modern miracle. They enable people to meet in an entirely consensual fashion: Both people in the meeting have already acknowledged that they are looking for a sexual and/or romantic partner. Moreover, some of the more sophisticated websites, such as “Match dot com” and “Plenty of fish,” allow the participants to describe themselves, so that matches are formed on the basis of more than just surface appearance. (Whereas some other websites do encourage matches just based on appearance, for those who prefer that sort of thing.) It’s true that there are some risks involved — a person may lie in his/her self-description — but there are fewer risks involved than if the initial meeting is in (for instance) a bar, where all you have to go on initially is surface appearance. The online websites provide plenty of people you can meet, without resorting to hitting on someone at your workplace. Thus, sexual harassment at the workplace is NOT necessary for our species to perpetuate itself.

  3. Okay, but dating via a website is as much fun as dry-humping. Who knows maybe #metoo is in collusion with Russia to demolish the interaction between US men and women, already rather stressful, to destroy the American empire… : – )

  4. David Walsh refuses to have empathy for the plight of women. He is a relic who represents the judeo.christian view of women as subservient to men. He does not understand that human dignity iw deserved by all and trivializes the humiliation of women at all levels of society, when he refuses to grant that even women who are not at the bottom of the economic pecking order, deserve respect.

    Frankly his perspective is so limited with regards to the insults that women suffer, that he has lost all credibility as someone who cares for social justice.

  5. “To be brutally frank, there is a great difference between the situation facing a working class woman, on the one hand, for whom acquiescing to sexual pressures in a factory or office may be virtually a life-and-death issue, and the choices open to an entertainer or performer, on the other, who plays along in the interests of advancing a career. Merkin herself asks rhetorically, “What happened to women’s agency? That’s what I find myself wondering as I hear story after story of adult women who helplessly acquiesce to sexual demands.”
    In response:
    To be brutally frank, a wealthy woman is as likely to be beaten in her home as a poor woman… it just gets covered up with more agility. Misogyny exists in every ism… socialism, communism, capitalism…. and so on.
    It is not helping women when you use misogyny for your own personal political agenda.

  6. I find WSWS position on the whole Me Too movement to be absolutely compelling, totally refreshing and fundamentally necessary.

    1. If David Walsh represents the fundamentally necessary view of misogyny and sexual harassment, as social justice, then he is sorely lacking any idea or concern for what ALL women face as a given of patriarchy.. All economic systems are deeply rooted in the view that women are subservient to men, lesser beings, who when they complain of harassment are dismissed as too bourgeois too merit respect.

      There is nothing refreshing about being groped. All women deserve respect.

  7. If David Walsh represents the fundamentally necessary view of misogyny and sexual harassment, as social justice, then he is sorely lacking any idea or concern for what ALL women face as a given of patriarchy.. All economic systems are deeply rooted in the view that women are subservient to men, lesser beings, who when they complain of harassment are dismissed as too bourgeois too merit respect.

    There is nothing refreshing about being groped. All women deserve respect.

  8. Walsh approaches the #metoo movement from a liberal stance. Yes, we want change, but we want genteel change whereby lesser offenders are not severely punished. It is the sort of namby-pamby liberal utterances of the actor Damon, and of those who never were included in the real laboring classes and it is basically elitist and very much of a US phenomenon. No-one gets spared in revolution, not the big offenders nor the smaller ones and ignored in the fallacious argument that successful women should stay silent while the revolution rests in the hands of the less advantaged ones is that working women have enough on their hands to stay alive and stay viable as mothers. There is no divide between those who are part of the problem and might be part of the solution, all participate equally in the guilt and salvation. Thus, it is the successful women in the Hollywood crowd that have the time and leisure to act. One may decry the fact that it is mostly if not wholly hypocritical and probably opportunistic but at least there is a section of female society that can and does protest and it is better than letting it all slide. To be theoretically purer than thou will end in Fascism and all change demands sacrifices and even contains injustices. To deny that is hampering the process and at best naïve.

  9. Well said, Peter Pavimento…. I have just one small quip…. When you say,

    ‘Walsh approaches the #metoo movement from a liberal stance. ‘

    I would say, ‘Walsh approaches the #metoo movement from a patriarchal stance.

    Generally, I avoid the lexicon of socialism vs capitalism, liberal vs a true leftist position, when dealing with the issues of misogyny & animal abuse…. as these two archaic justifications for violence occur across the board, in all political and economic systems….

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