Providence progressive Democrat Representative Edith Ajello said something to the folks at Rhode Island Public Radio that illustrates how the treatment of all things sexual harassment relies on a sort of superstition. As Ian Donnis relates in his weekend column:
As far as [Democrat Representative Teresa] Tanzi’s decision to not identify the source of the harassment, and whether that may unfairly tar some members of the legislature, “The victim’s rights should be thought of as primary,” Ajello said. “…. I think we will hear from others, but the importance of protecting victims of sexual harassment, I think, is more important than protecting those males at the Statehouse” who do not engage in harassment.
This is nonsense, ignoring entirely the objective question of who suffers harm.
What is the harassment, in this case, if Tanzi is telling the truth? A guy said something a single time and in private implying that she should do something she would find objectionable in order to gain advantage. She has offered no evidence that this inappropriate comment caused her any difficulties in any way whatsoever, personally or legislatively, and the fact that it was a private comment means that it couldn’t even subtly affect how other people would react to her. In contrast, Tanzi has placed all “those males” in the General Assembly under a cloud of suspicion.
Both cases involve nothing but words, but Tanzi’s words, proclaimed across the country, have a greater effect. Again, it’s a kind of superstition that raises to a state of inviolable victim status somebody who suffered a bit of personal office awkwardness over people who have been implicated nationally as potential harassers.
One suspects that implicating men as irredeemable harassers is pretty much the point.