How not to be that guy

So, we’ve got another story about another man who reportedly thinks it’s just fine to size up women just doing their job.

As MinnPost first reported, Sen. Dan Schoen, from Cottage Grove, allegedly sexually harassed women at the Legislature and who were campaigning.

This is the most damning paragraph in Briana Bierschbach’s story detailing the allegation from Lindsey Port, who was running for the Legislature.

Port, a small-business owner, had recently announced her plans to run for a state House seat in the Burnsville area. At the DNC event, she was chatting with other candidates and state legislators about her busy summer knocking on doors — a common campaign activity — when Schoen, then a representative in the House, stepped back to look at her from behind.

“‘I can tell when a candidate is doing a good job knocking on doors by checking out their ass,’” Port says Schoen told her. “He said, ‘Yep, looks like you’re doing a good job.’”

Schoen’s response is bewildering, as described by Bierschbach. He recalls each of the incidents, but says the allegations were either false or taken out of context.

“How could someone who is commenting on a colleague’s ‘ass’ not know it was inappropriate?” former legislator Pam Neary wrote in a letter to MinnPost. “Even more chilling was his text to an unknown person that referred to his predatory behavior as if it were hunting season in Minnesota — a mostly male sport with a clear objective of ‘bagging’ the chosen prey.”

The steady drumbeat, now, of sexual harassment allegations gives us pause to ask them a question: Who raised you?

With each Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Michael Oreskes, and Kevin Spacey comes a recognition that too many fathers have failed to raise their sons with an understanding of what it means to be a man and how to treat women people with the respect that anyone deserves.

So let Yvonne Abraham, a columnist for the Boston Globe, do the job that too many fathers apparently are not capable of doing: teaching men how not to be that guy.

She does so in this morning’s column, after getting reaction to a previous column that caused too many men to get their feelings hurt.

Our body parts
I’m starting basic here, to build your confidence. Women’s breasts — even large ones — do not exist for your entertainment in the workplace. Do not talk to a woman’s breasts. Make eye contact during conversations, even with women you find attractive. Do not talk about breasts, or use the necklaces that hang near them as Trojan horses for breast-talk. And definitely do not touch breasts. Very bad.

Your body parts
This may be hard to hear, but not everyone loves the little guy like you do. Do not speak of it to women at work or at work-related events. Do not send pictures of it to them, either. Definitely do not insist that they have any contact with it whatsoever. Do not, under any circumstances, whip it out in the workplace. For example, agreeing as a group to display your wares, and inviting a new employee to judge whose manhood is most impressive, is extremely unprofessional (Yes, this really happened).

Your pornography
Have at it at home, if that’s your thing. But the workplace is no place in which to consume pornography. Ever. Definitely don’t watch it on your office computer, where the IT guys will eventually find it. Not on your phone. Not even when you’re hanging with your boys on the House floor. Even women who themselves enjoy pornography will not take to the idea of you watching it as they toil beside you. And while we’re at it, do not try your hand at making porn in the workplace. Do not use your cellphone to take shots up your colleagues’ skirts or attempt to photograph their cleavage in meetings. Do not capture Snapchat images of your co-worker in a bathing suit (She knows it was you).

Your texts
It is such a marvelous invention, but please use your phone wisely. Do not use it to text women (Other than those with whom you are in a fully consenting relationship) with proposals that they engage in sexual activity of any kind. Do not text compliments on her behind or her breasts (see above). She may reply “ha ha,’’ or not reply at all, but she almost certainly does not think it’s funny. More likely, she is appalled, but she knows you have more power than she does, and she has no idea how else to respond. Also, if you are making propositions via text messages, which can be saved on a screenshot and possibly shared with a reporter who has to take a shower every time she sees them, you are also as dumb as bricks. Resign immediately.

Your power
Ask yourself: Does this young intern or aide or server, just starting out in a career where you hold the cards, truly find your usually much older, probably married self attractive? When you massage her shoulders at a bar near the office, or gyrate near her face in the manner of a pasty Chippendale, are you sure she likes it? If she didn’t, would she really feel she could tell you, given that doing so could imperil her career prospects, or her pay? In other words, does she have full agency in this situation? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you’re done.

Seems simple enough, even for a man whose father was probably that guy.

Oh, and she’s got one for the “I was just joking” crowd, too.

“Do not do this, not only because it demeans the very hard work the woman did to get to where she is, or because it makes her feel like crap, which it does, but also because, years later, she could call you out publicly,” she says.

Don’t read the comments.

Related: Brave Enough to be Angry (NY Times)

Victims Of Sexual Harassment Speak Up, But Legal Fears Can Inhibit Them (NPR)