Old sexual harassment accusations are seedy way to sink political candidates
By Rachel Alexander
The media feeding frenzy over allegations of sexual harassment by Herman Cain is going to cause a shift in how we view sexual harassment. According to a University of Michigan research study last year, 90 percent of women report being sexually harassed in the workplace. This number sounds absurd. If acted upon, it would turn workplaces into Gulag camps. At some point when are women just being overly sensitive or incorrectly construing annoying behavior as sexual harassment? What percentage of sexual harassment complaints are filed merely in order to get back at a co-worker?
At the same time, 86 percent of women say they would flirt with a co-worker in order to get what they wanted. This contradictory finding makes it unfair to punish unwanted flirting with draconian measures. Yet this is precisely what is being done to Herman Cain, who is about to lose his presidential bid over sexual harassment allegations from years ago.
The workplace is one of the best places to meet quality members of the opposite sex for dating. Studies suggest that 40 percent of employees have dated co-workers. These romances start with much of the same flirting behavior that feminists label sexual harassment.
Many men are socially awkward and inexperienced at flirting and dating. Some men are brought up in a cultural background that is friendlier and more open with the opposite sex. What they perceive as harmless flirting to a receptive audience, may be construed as offensive by a few women.
Sexual harassment accusations can be really unfair because it is his word against her word. Usually employers settle complaints rather than going to trial, because a trial is costly and unpredictable due to not knowing who to believe. But when there is a settlement, a perception is created that the man was probably guilty of sexual harassment. Two of Herman Cain's accusers complained about sexual harassment by him to their employer years ago. There was never any trial or conviction, just a couple of out of court settlements. There is a reason why settlements like these result in no punishment for the accused. If there had clearly been misbehavior by Cain, some adverse action would have been taken against him such as a civil lawsuit or prosecution.
It comes down to who do you believe, a Cain accuser like Sharon Bialek who lives in the same building as Obama advisor David Axelrod, has a troubled history that includes several lawsuits and problems maintaining employment, or Herman Cain, who rose from a poor upbringing to become a famous businessman and presidential candidate? Cain denies even knowing Bialek. Bialek claims Cain groped her in 1997 when she came to him for assistance finding a job. I have had hundreds of guys give me bear hugs over the years, never thought twice about them, and would not remember who had hugged me in 1997. Bialek never filed a complaint against Cain. If she thought his behavior was that egregious, why didn't she file a complaint against him?
Bialek has now sought out media craving celebrity attorney and Democrat donor Gloria Allred to represent her. A body language expert has examined their public statements and concluded that Cain comes across as more credible. "From a purely nonverbal perspective, Cain is the most believable and Bialek has the biggest credibility gap when it comes to her alleged reasons for speaking up after fourteen years."
Three other women have accused Cain of sexual advances, but two refuse to publicly reveal their names. The third accuser, Karen Kraushaar, has not provided any details. Two of the complaints resulted in generous five-figure settlement payouts by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to the women. The women are breaking the confidentiality provision of their settlement agreements by coming forward now. Cain said there is a copy of the investigation in the NRA's files which exonerates him.
Kraushaar currently works for the Obama administration as a communications director in the Treasury Department, no low-level position. This is not the first time she has complained about sexual harassment by co-workers. She filed a complaint against a manager at another job for circulating a sexually charged email. Kraushaar's former supervisor is Maria Cardona, who served as a senior adviser to the Hillary Clinton for President campaign and now works as a Democratic strategist for Dewey Square Group.
The timing and connections to Democrats are suspicious. Cain was becoming the leading GOP presidential contender in the polls when these stories broke. The Democrats no doubt have been digging hard recently, talking to everyone who has known Cain throughout his life to find anything to use against him.
Cain is not even accused of having sex or extramarital affairs. Contrast this with President Bill Clinton, who was accused of having a 12-year long adulterous affair with Gennifer Flowers while running for president yet still won the presidency.
"Sexual harassment" is an amorphous word that can be manipulated to infer guilt onto anyone. At some point society has to say enough is enough, this is overkill. Most men are friendly in the workplace and when their friendliness rises to the level of flirting it is all too frequently welcomed and encouraged. The rare incidents where a clueless man does not realize his flirting is not welcome should not be punished by destroying his career. The punishment is overkill and does not fit the behavior.
Feminists want to have it both ways which is impossible. They have made the workplace politically correct, imposing laws against sexual harassment, while at the same time permitting flirting in the workplace to continue, letting office romances flourish.
We may never know whether Cain or his accusers are telling the truth. Since there are four or five accusers, they could be telling the truth. But even if they are, should some guy's awkward attempt at flirting derail his entire presidential bid and ruin his reputation? For every Herman Cain who has been complained about, there are many more men whose awkward flirting was warmly received in the workplace. Those men no doubt include Congressmen and even presidents. Married men should not be flirting in the workplace. But everyone is human and sometimes friendliness can be misconstrued.
The left cannot stand the concept of a black conservative political leader. This scenario is all too familiar, reminiscent of the sexual harassment accusations Anita Hill dredged up against Clarence Thomas during his Senate confirmation hearings. Since the left could not find anything legitimate to criticize about Cain, they have resorted to gutter tactics like this.
It is time to rethink our attitudes towards sexual harassment. Treating every accuser equally as if their words are a career-derailing incident is going to result in a backlash. Eventually people will stop taking the accusers seriously.
Rachel Alexander and her brother Andrew are co-Editors of Intellectual Conservative. Rachel practices law and social media political consulting in Phoenix, Arizona. She has been published in the American Spectator, Townhall.com, Fox News, NewsMax, Accuracy in Media, The Americano, ParcBench, and other publications.