Sex has always been a staple of US politics. In recent times, however, this subject has gripped that country in an interestingly new way.
After American voters ignored allegations of sexual misconduct against Candidate Donald Trump by over one dozen women to elect him president, a rash of similar allegations is, once again, testing the sensitivity of America’s prudish soul.
Roy Moore, a conservative two-time judge of the Alabama Supreme Court, is on the Republican ticket for the US Senate.
He’s opposed to gays and homosexuals and is also said not to be fond of minorities and people of other faiths, especially Muslims.
Of all his transgressions, however, the one that will most likely define his contest for the Senate is the allegation of sexual misconduct against him by nearly one dozen women.
A number of the women, who said they were then between the ages of 14 and 16, said Moore molested them when he was 32 and district attorney.
Painting pictures that made Moore look more like the district randy goat than an attorney, it appeared that neither those whom he gave a lift in his car nor those who came to his office for counsel were safe from his predatory reach.
While America was still digesting the Moore story, a radio presenter accused Democratic senator, Al Franken, of groping her while she was asleep in a military aircraft on a trip to Afghanistan. The picture of Franken lounging at the breasts of the presenter and grinning at the camera at the same time was truly Frankenstein, yet the senator said it was meant to be a joke.
Before Moore and Franken, there was Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood super stud and multi-millionaire who built a sprawling business empire as proof of his ingenuity but failed to keep his zip up or manage his testosterone.
And there was also Ben Afleck, the Oscar-winning actor and director who was caught pants down as he was mocking the fallen Weinstein.
Perhaps there was a time when America would have been nearly unanimous in condemning the sexual predators, swamping them in wave after wave of public outrage - like it happened to Elliot Spitzer in 2008, or Gary Hart nearly a decade earlier. Bill Clinton rebounded, but by the skin of his teeth.
Today’s America is different, very different. Trump will get away with a Lewinsky unscathed and Tweet about it the next day.
With a sexual predator-in-chief as president there appears to be a shift toward a benign, even benevolent, attitude to sexual misconduct. In the ongoing Moore-Franken case, for example, while Trump was quick to mock Franken for lecturing about morality when his hands were not clean, he said voters in Alabama should be allowed to decide Moore’s fate.
And the public seems to agree, except of course, if you’re watching CNN or reading New York Times.
The difference is not only in the fact that Moore has denied the allegation and Franken has apologized, or that the former belongs to the same political party with Trump. The fundamental difference is a shift in public attitude, a deep contrarian schism that has unleashed America’s worst self.
The most consequential result yet is the installation of a predator-in-chief in the White House.
In fact, while the liberal media are scratching their heads over the morality of the Trumpian age, the motives of the victims or the ‘me-too-ers’ have come under severe scrutiny.
If they were too weak, afraid and vulnerable at the time of the incident, why wait until decades later – often until the alleged perpetrators are on the verge of a watershed moment in their careers – before coming out? What real risk did a radio presenter, for example, face in coming out to speak up against a predator at the time of the incident?
A number of the victims have said they’re not coming out from a vindictive motive, or for the money. They just want to bring closure to a very difficult period in their lives and hope that, by coming out, other victims may also find the strength in numbers to come out and be truly healed.
A country that elected Trump as president – warts and all, and which in fact believes that the warts are largely a creation of the spiteful liberal media, can hardly be expected to take latter-day confessions of sexual harassment seriously.
That does not mean that the younger generation of Americans, especially blacks and other minority males, are not learning any lessons.
As attitudes that used to be regarded as ‘normal’ prowess of masculinity in social relationships are being called to question, men would have to reset amorous boundaries or risk crossing a dangerous line.
The Bukar Ibrahims in Nigeria’s Senate do not have to worry about this trend (yet), but if they ask their cousins in the House of Representatives who had an unforgettable experience on a trip to the US, they would know that in a globalized world, trouble is just one flight away.
The rich and powerful could be at risk, not only in cases of non-consensual sex, but even in consensual sex. Take the recent case of a student doctor on the other side of the pond, for example.
According to a story in the Daily Mail, Philip Queree, a student doctor, was convicted of indecent assault for grabbing the breasts of her consenting lover too hard in bed.
Even though it was the second time the pair was having consensual sexual intercourse after meeting on a dating site – and the second time specifically at the instance of the lady – she later went to court, complaining that Philip had grabbed her breasts too hard and ‘left her in tears.’
Poor Philip! Who, in his state of mind at the time, would remember to mind, much less measure grip intensity?
Yet the judge, a woman, ruled that apart from enrolling the student doctor on a sex offenders’ list, he also had to do 180 hours of community service and pay a fine of £2,000. On top of this misery, he might yet be struck off the practitioners' roll.
It’s not unlikely that in the not-too-distant future, women would be wearing a chip - as part of their normal fashion accessory - the same way police officers now wear body cameras in some countries. That would make any case of sexual predation tighter and the evidence even more formidable.
Until then, however, the rich and powerful might be well served by remembering what their mother told them: take a woman’s no as no even if that woman is your wife.
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