We’re No Angels, THE SEQUEL: An Honest Man’s Guide to What Some of Us Really Think About Sexual Harassment

It was the most controversial article I’ve ever written. Many women applauded me. Many men were incensed by me. Here we go again.

For those following my Medium stories, I posted the following article about a week ago:

As they used to say back in my home town of Brooklyn, New York: I really stepped in it this time.

Now it’s time to take another step. Let’s begin by talking about the author of this piece, who was accused by some men of placing himself up to a higher standard and making all other men look bad.

So let’s talk.

I used to objectify women. Fellow straight men, who among us hasn’t when we were young? Of course, many of us still do. I’m being disingenuous. I’m human; I’m aroused by the female form and not ashamed to admit it. I used to read Playboy and Penthouse. (I used to look at the pictures too.) I used to watch porn, and still own a few DVDs.

And probably videocassettes too.

“But have you visited Pornhub?”

“Yeah, I’ve checked out Pornhub.”

Today I’m married and monogamous. Yesterday I was desperately single, and dreaming of meeting a woman so I could be happily married and monogamous. I also dreamt of being with a couple of dozen women at once, depending on the day of the week, and becoming a multi-time member of the Mile High Club. My dreams and fantasies were no different than any other straight male with whom I attended school in the 70s and 80s. My “peers” as it were.

For the record, I do not believe monogamy is a moral “must,” as I do not believe it is for everyone. It’s clearly not. Open marriages, alternative lifestyles … Who am I to judge? I’d rather be in a consensual polygamous relationship than to have the person I love cheat on me. Been there; it’s painful as hell. I’d rather be honest from the get-go. But you do your thing, and I’ll do mine.

Though this article is written from my perspective as a straight male, it is important to note that everything here applies regardless of your sexuality. Being faithful to one woman makes me happy and whole. We all have our kinks, and mine are none of your business.

Consent is the key.

Here’s the difference: I was an introverted writer-type for much of my adult life; my words are most easily expressed via my keyboard. Today, though a married man for nearly 18 years and a public speaker, I’m still very much the introvert. My parents raised me and my brothers to respect women. We all took those lessons to heart, but a painful shyness towards members of the opposite sex pretty well guaranteed my salvation from future sexual deviancy.

Doesn’t mean I don’t love sex. I do. Doesn’t mean sex isn’t on my mind more than maybe it should be. It is. Doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy dirty jokes. I do. Very much.

If I find them funny, you’ll know right away.

But I learned boundaries early on. I’m a writer who works in the television business, so indulge me as I discuss my industry for a moment.

This past weekend my wife and I attended a Golden Globe Awards party. On a couch in the corner was a guy who had to be in his late-60s-early 70s with a twenty-something-year-old woman on each arm.

Was he a lucky son of a bitch or a dirty old man? Do I care? Not at all, unless he manipulated them with promises of getting them auditions or some such. Likely the case — very likely the case — but were they willing?

Needs to be asked.

People in my business, despite some popular conceptions, are not by and large coke-sniffing sexual criminals. That’s a stereotype. Most are good people, despite what some may think. But because certain personalities in my business are high-profile, their indiscretions may well become, deservedly, front-page news.

I hear repeatedly that those who get (and have been) caught poison things for the rest of us. I couldn’t disagree more. Harvey Weinstein is a pig who deserves every bit of payback that’s coming to him. Kevin Spacey may be no different.

But accusers, don’t fool yourselves either. We have an issue today where an accusation without proof can kill a career. This much is true. I’d even be willing to bet that revenge accusations are more prevalent that we would like to believe. Again, my primary reference point is when my office was located on the Paramount Studios lot. Allow me to set the scene once more, as I alluded to this in the prior article: I am a short, somewhat pudgy bald guy. An average middle-aged dude of average looks. Several times a week, young women in their early to mid-twenties casually stopped me on the lot to see if I was casting. The majority were dressed either provocatively or with very low-cut tops pulled down to an exaggerated degree, likely returning from other auditions.

For the avoidance of doubt, my favorite conversation went something like this:

Woman: “Can I see your office? I’d love to see what you got going on ... Do you have a lock on your door?”

Me: “I have a lock on my door.”

Woman: “Got shades?”

Me: “I have shades. And this conversation’s over, respectfully. Okay?”

I certainly was not the only one who dealt with this on a fairly regular basis. Many guys loved the attention, and took full advantage. If I was single or if I was tempted to play, I’d probably be dead by now of heart failure. I’m keeping it real. A casual lunch at the Paramount commissary yielded several regular low-volume conversations about how “great” a particular woman was, and that they’ll be attending an awards ceremony together next week and visiting Cabo the week after.

But this was the “other” overheard conversation of some frequency: “We got into an argument, and now that bitch says she’s going to the press about me.”

The casting couch scenario is a two-way street and has always been, though males typically were the aggressors. The couch was used regularly since the beginning of the motion picture business as a means of men in high positions (sometimes, presumably so) wielding their power. Television was no different. Those women who participated, consented, for whatever their reason. Many were willing because they were desperate (for money or success). Many men were the aggressors as they were predominantly in the positions of power and took complete advantage. This scenario is not relegated to entertainment industries, of course. Corporate America is rife with sexual misconduct.

On the circumstances of men being overly persistent with the women, or drugging a drink? Rape has been a natural progression.

You may not approve of the statement, but this is a fact. Do your research into Old Hollywood. It’s not hard to find. The power structures were skewed, and the casting couch — and more — became a normal part of the process. See here for an in-depth exploration:

Women have had enough for years — decades, even — and have relatively recently begun speaking out in force. Kudos to them. #ItsFarPastTime. That said, the business still has gulfs to go. The couch scenario has not disappeared. It remains a reality.

Guys, your resentment is your issue. As I posted in another recent story: It’s about consent. We can say that’s how it always “should have been,” but it was not. See this story — the title is only partially clickbait — which touches on some of those thoughts:

For the women reading this, men are turned off by victimhood. Meaning: A guy’s perception of a woman being a victim. If the guy has not walked in your shoes, he’s making an assumption. He doesn’t know.

And neither do I. I’ve done some research on the matter, and I’m learning:

It goes without saying, but based on some response from my original “We’re No Angels” article, I’ll say this much: Sex is normal, human and healthy. Non-consensual sex will and should be considered sexual misconduct. It’s a real easy equation. If you do not accept it, again, that’s your issue.

All anyone is asking for is mutual respect. It’s simply time to grow up, guys. We live in a different time, thankfully. Most of us already know the difference between sexual harassment or misconduct, and consent.

This is geared to the rest of you: Make the best of it, and you may be surprised by the degree that these conversations can actually enhance your relationships.

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