The Perv Handbook

At 6:30 this morning, Steve and I were milling around the house. I put my hair back in a pony tail, filled up the water bottle for the gym, and set up Ian’s breakfast — bowl, cereal, juice, ADHD medicine. Ian wandered down at 6:45 and rearranged his breakfast spot, so all the items were in the correct location on the table. Like every morning, Steve’s put his oatmeal bowl in the sink, kissed me, and dashed out the door. I sat down for a minute and checked my e-mail on the iPad by the TV. All the while, the local news was on the TV, as it is every morning. We never really watch it, but it’s on, keeping us company.

At 7:00, the Today Show came on. I was in the living room looking out the window for Ian’s bus, when I heard a tearful Savanna Guthry in the background. I went into the TV room to see why she was upset. I thought someone important died.

No, it was just the news that Matt Lauer was canned for inappropriate work behavior. Another one.

Are all men in power scummy? I just don’t get it. They all seem to work from the same Perv Handbook.

Tip #1 — Surprise a co-worker as you are coming out of the shower rubbing your bare ass with a towel. They will think it is awesome. Uh, no they won’t. Especially when you are like 75 and have neck jowls hanging down to your navel.

Tip #2 — Women love it when you assault them. They like it way more than when you ask them out on a date. This one I don’t get. I assume that Matt Lauer did not need to forcibly grab a women. I imagine that he could have found a willing partner. There are plenty of women who wouldn’t even care that he is married. Why did he need to assault someone?

Tip #3 – Whip it out and surprise a co-worker. Even show her how it operates. She’ll love it and will thank you for this demonstration. It’s like a test drive of a new Mercedes. There is no woman who wants to be greeted by a surprise penis. Just telling, y’all.

Tip #4 — A pinch on the butt is fine way to start your day. Your women colleagues will appreciate the fact that you noticed their round bums. Leave our butts alone.

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43 thoughts on “The Perv Handbook

  1. “I assume that Matt Lauer did not need to forcibly grab a women. I imagine that he could have found a willing partner. There are plenty of women who wouldn’t even care that he is married. Why did he need to assault someone?”

    I have to take issue with this and with your use of the word “perv” because it suggests you don’t get what’s at issue. it’s not sex. It’s power. I’m guessing that re Lauer, it’s not necessarily assault (though maybe it is–I haven’t read further than “Lauer got fired,” news that caused me immeasurable joy this morning). With Lauer, the gossip has been that he basically expects to sleep with the people who work for him. If you don’t, you get fired. If you’re not hot enough to fuck, you don’t even get hired. Savannah Guthrie is crying not because she’s sad about Matt (though Stockholm Syndrome probably has a role) but because she knows she probably got her job because she was probably willing to sleep with him, unlike Ann Curry, who was fired because she wouldn’t. So if Matt’s gone, is her job in jeopardy too? That’ll explain those tears.

    I don’t have a penis so I don’t know what it’s like to think with one, and my clitoris isn’t the boss of me. But I can’t help thinking about Joss Whedon right now. You may remember that Joss’s ex took to the press to slam him for mouthing feminist views while behind the scenes he was being mouthed. (Gah, sorry, couldn’t resist the pun, but I had heard an SMG BJ rumor years ago.) Joss excused himself by saying that “needy actresses” were throwing themselves at him. And that gets to the heart of the issue: when men are in power, and when they think with their penises, then sex becomes a currency. You can engage to some degree in consensual ways (like Jennifer Lawrence did with Weinstein), but first, the power differential is still there and second, the power can go to your head. Then you become like Matt Lauer or Harvey Weinstein and think that you will only hire people who are willing to engage in this economy of sex, and then, as with Weinstein, you start to think that your mere presence in their lives is some sort of agreement to the economy and you take what you think is yours.

    This is a bit different from “perverted” desires. Wanting to have sex with someone when it is generally considered immoral (i.e., sex with children, which is actually rape, but I’m guessing the fantasy/delusion involves it being consensual) is perverted; it’s a perversion from the accepted norms of behavior.

    The thing with Lauer, Weinstein, O’Reilly, Ailes, etc. is that they expected that because of their power, they should be able to do whatever they wanted. Sometimes they could gain a tacit acceptance, sometimes not. Weinstein raped women, but he thought he was doing them a favor (note how he would force oral sex on women; he thought he was doing something for them).

    And it’s not perversion because it’s the norm. Women for years have been told to expect that this is the way men are, this is the way the workplace is, and women just have to accept it. We can only hope that it becomes known as perversion.

    1. “..I don’t have a penis so I don’t know what it’s like to think with one, and my clitoris isn’t the boss of me..” A nice line, long in use among men, is: ‘Don’t let the little head think for the big head’ – it has seemed to me that a lot of the (bewildering, to me) behavior about which we’ve been reading is more about wanting to have and to demonstrate control than about actual sexual gratification.

    2. quite agree with Wendy.

      “With Lauer, the gossip has been that he basically expects to sleep with the people who work for him.”

      This happens in all working environments I think. My wife used to work in training for software companies. Typically the teachers were women, the head of training was a man. In more than one company that man expected to sleep with his staff, and was somewhat outraged if someone refused. This seemed to be less of a problem in the USA when we moved here in the 90s, but still occurred. I’m not sure what the situation is now but given recent news I would guess it hasn’t stopped.

      “feminine beauty is a magnet which attracts all men; it serves them for a standard of morality and a test of right and wrong.”
      Mrs. Bellamy, in H. Rider Haggard’s novel Dawn.
      This is true – just look at how Ivanka gets treated.

      Rephrasing for men,
      “power is a magnet which attracts all women; it serves them for a standard of morality and a test of right and wrong.”
      This is something that powerful men believe, and not a few women and powerless men too. Powerful men believe themselves irresistible. Even identifying this as a perversion will be difficult, since there are so many (men and) women who do find power powerfully attractive..

  2. It seems like it varies. As I recall, Glenn Thrush behaved much more normally, i.e., go out for drinks with a woman, then make some physical overtures, then end the date if she isn’t interested. As Glenn Reynolds noted, Charlie Rose and several other of these sexual harassers seem to be using techniques that would be more effective for women, i.e., appearing half-dressed, discussing sexual topics, etc.

  3. I think it’s power. Most of the men appearing in the headlines in this sort of thing were in a position in which they may have thought themselves to have been indispensable. Charlie Rose. Weinstein. O’Reilly.

    I propose extreme solutions. I would do away with NDAs, as regards personal violations of this sort. I’d also do away with settlements requiring confidentiality. It should not be possible to bind a victim to silence.

    The corrosive thing is that because so many organizations figure it’s cheaper to settle than to go to court, the fact that there has been a settlement doesn’t imply that there was a violation to outsiders.

    Bring it back to slander/libel, and truth being an absolute defense.

    My other extreme solution would be to urge the entertainment industry to make their news outfits ensemble productions, not star vehicles. Let no one think they’re indispensable. And let no business organization pay off an accuser.

  4. Laura,

    I love your perv handbook. Really funny!

    Is porn partly to blame for the popularity of weird ideas about what women find attractive?

    1. I was thinking Asperger’s. The inability to see the world from someone else’s perspective.

      This is why the world would be a better place if people, especially men, read romance novels.

      1. Wendy said:

        “I was thinking Asperger’s. The inability to see the world from someone else’s perspective.”

        There’s no way these top dog chatty TV guys are what we normally think of as Aspie.

        It is true, though that I have had some interesting online discussions about whether (possibly) the autism spectrum doesn’t shade into narcissism, where the person has a grasp of basic external social niceties and may actually be rather socially and professionally successful, but they don’t have the sort of empathy that would allow them to understand other people’s feelings about their actions.

        See, for example, Michael Scott from The Office. You can imagine a dirtier version of him doing the stuff from Laura’s perv handbook list, right?

    1. Geraldo seems to think so, too.

      1. “I know, I’ll make up some false allegations, claim them against some celebrity, go through the media s** storm that turns my life upside down + plus everyone else who’s ever know me + never be hired in my industry or another ever again. That’s my cunning plan to get rich…mwahhh hah hahhhh….(tented fingers)” <—- what these perpetrators hope that we'll believe about their victims

      1. dave s.,

        “Rivera’s memoir is now looking … ill advised”

        That article is definitely worth the click.

        Note the disparities between the Bette Midler and the Geraldo Rivera versions of the same story.

        I wonder what the two interns’ version of the story was.

        “Now, how are things going for Matt Taibbi?”

        It’s funny that you mention Matt Tabibi (a Rolling Stones guy), as I have an old Rolling Stones story.

        I forget if I’ve told this story on apt11d, but back in the early 90s, I was a college journalism student in LA. Our instructors (who were generally working journalists) would bring in other working journalists to talk to us. My reporting teacher brought in a woman who used to write for Rolling Stone. She said it was lots of fun, right up until she noticed that the girlfriends were getting all the good assignments. As she put it, to make it at Rolling Stone, you had to make it, so she left.. From what she said, other media workplaces at the time were less rock and roll.

        Here’s another complicating factor. Print media was traditionally male-dominated (but for many years had had a small female presence), but by the time I was taking journalism classes (1992-95) our classes were overwhelmingly female. I had (as I recall) only male teachers, but classes would not infrequently be 100% female. You can imagine what glorious bounty that looked like to people like Geraldo Rivera or Matt Lauer when my classmates hit the job market.

    1. This is well over five years ago, so can’t be it: https://www.msn.com/en-us/movies/celebrity/bette-midler-demands-apology-from-geraldo-rivera-says-he-drugged-and-‘groped-me’/ar-BBFYOcV?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp
      Revenge is a dish best served cold, they say. Still need an accounting of six years ago.

      However, damnit, I really like some of Weinstein’s movies. He is genuinely good at what he does. Maybe give him a minder, not let him be in a room alone with any woman, and go back to the movies? Half the profits go to a restitution fund? As he said of Woody Allen, “the man is a comic genius”. Why do I suffer because he is an asshole?

  5. So, um, this was not “harassment.” In my opinion, this was rape: In 2001, the woman said, Mr. Lauer, who is married, asked her to his office to discuss a story during a workday. (…)

    She woke up on the floor of his office, and Mr. Lauer had his assistant take her to a nurse.

    The woman told The Times that Mr. Lauer never made an advance toward her again and never mentioned what occurred in his office. She said she did not report the episode to NBC at the time because she believed she should have done more to stop Mr. Lauer. She left the network about a year later.

    On Wednesday, the episode in Mr. Lauer’s office was reported to NBC News after the woman told her then-supervisor, who still works at the network. The woman said an NBC human resources representative had since contacted her. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/29/business/media/nbc-matt-lauer.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

    I don’t think the network could have ignored a report like that in 2001, had it been made. (I cut much of the description, to avoid triggering filters.)

    There are likely more victims.

    1. Well, I would likely tell him some of the same smutty stories I tell my other male, but not, generally, female, coworkers. Grab his ass, I think not prudent.. Meanwhile, it has been interesting to watch Al Franken announce that he is going to devote the rest of his life to finding the real killer while living as a proud gay man and fighting the NRA…

  6. While I am sure it is well intentioned, and I get your point, this test does not work. There are things that a guy would say to The Rock that he should not be saying to a woman. What those things are might vary by context, but if a guy thinks he is going to be able to defend improper statements to a woman by arguing, “well, I say those things to The Rock all the time,” his company is going to have serious exposure in the sexual harassment lawsuit.

    1. Mostly Lurking said:

      “While I am sure it is well intentioned, and I get your point, this test does not work. There are things that a guy would say to The Rock that he should not be saying to a woman. What those things are might vary by context, but if a guy thinks he is going to be able to defend improper statements to a woman by arguing, “well, I say those things to The Rock all the time,” his company is going to have serious exposure in the sexual harassment lawsuit.”

      Hopefully the one about avoiding public masturbation in front of a group of horrified female coworkers by imagining that it’s The Rock and three cops holds up better? (That’s at the end.)

    2. I don’t agree with this. Outside sharing experiences of jock itch or a prostate exam, I’m really not sure why there are things that can be said to a man but not to a woman. If it’s a sexist joke, don’t tell it to men. If it’s sexually off-color, as long as it’s an appropriate setting I don’t see why you couldn’t tell it in mixed company. I have male colleagues who tell risque jokes or sexually explicit stories and I don’t find them offensive at all. On the flip side, telling a sexually-explicit joke in the wrong context isn’t OK just because all parties are the same sex.

  7. Yeah, I think there probably is a Perv handbook and a pro-tip for executives is: ” Install a button on the desk in your office to lock the doors automatically, in case you need privacy for . . whatever . . . also scares your prey, as they think they have no way out.”

    It’s crazy, but it seems that Matt Lauer really did have a secret button to do this on his desk. And also, there are claims that this button arrangement is actually a feature for executive offices:

    “Many exec offices in 30 Rock have the button,” the source tells PEOPLE. “It’s an idiosyncratic thing.

    Seems to be a bizarre thing or a rape thing—not so much an idiosyncratic thing.

    But if it’s true, who installed that and when? Who the heck thought this was a necessary and manly office accessory for the top executive? Did a bunch of NBC executives actually sit around in an office and then send out a memo to do this?

    Maybe they got some of their fantasies from old 50’s movies.

    I’ve seen old Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies where Rock Hudson does have a button panel next to his couch that simultaneously dims the lights, locks the doors, opens a couch bed and turns on music.

    1. It could have been a security measure. All the elementary schools around us have been investing in improved locks for the doors. Also, it could be a protection against insider trading. Discussing confidential information? Push the button = no one can listed through a door that’s ajar.

      Journalists have pursued stories; at times, journalists have died. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/dec/01/we-work-under-siege-journalists-risk-death-jobs

      I know local schools have consulted security consultants. While I don’t know the details of the plans, the principals have always said the best protection is not talking about the measures in place.

      Ok, so Google gave me this: http://www.nytimes.com/1994/09/01/nyregion/rifleman-kills-an-nbc-stagehand-in-rockefeller-center.html

      As horrified office workers watched from their windows and people on the street scattered for safety, a man with an assault rifle attempted to enter a television studio in midtown Manhattan yesterday and fired at a stagehand who emerged from a stage door, the police said.

      The stagehand, who worked for the NBC News morning program “Today” in Rockefeller Center, died several hours later after undergoing surgery at Bellevue Hospital Center. He was identified as Campbell Theron Montgomery, 33, who lived two blocks away and was assigned to the night shift at the studio where the “Today” program originates.

      So, the Today show executives in particular have reason to believe that a way to lock doors really quickly might save their lives.

      And this was a CBS affiliate, but happened recently: http://business.financialpost.com/executive/management-hr/its-an-employers-duty-to-keep-workers-safe-from-disgruntled-fired-employees

      1. Well, I don’t know about some of these security concerns. The protection from insider trading with secret lock buttons seems implausible to me. Assuming people lurking at doors is a bit outdated. I’d worry more about electronic eavesdropping.

        And I really don’t think that journalists being attacked and killed while they are pursuing stories in dangerous regions overseas has much to do with a talk show executive’s safety in his office in New York.

        The last link you provided is an employment lawyer giving counsel on a companies responsibilities to their workers in the event of a disgruntled employee attack and his advice is the exact opposite of installing secret lock buttons in executives desks. In the event of a crazed former employee, he advises:

        “Rather than simply protecting those left behind, the best solution for everyone might lie in assisting the fired employee. Dismissing an unbalanced employee and simultaneously cutting them off from support can be a toxic stew, and might result in liability if they attack former colleagues.”

        However, if it is true that those secret buttons were installed to safeguard the corporation from liability by providing some protection from attacks upon executives, wouldn’t it be ironic if they end up with a lot of very expensive lawsuits when they are determined to be responsible for not protecting their female employees from attacks by their executives?

  8. There’s a long’n’thoughtful by Cathy Young in today’s WSJ on the general theme of ‘we can go too far with this’. I thought worth reading – although the cover price on the paper is five bucks, maybe a little steep for the one article.

    1. I’ve been annoyed when people say “sexual assault” when they don’t mean rape.

      Not that groping is fantastic, but gropers aren’t necessarily rapists, and if “John Smith” is described in the media as committing sexual assault, a lot of people are going to assume that it is a euphemism for rape.

      Maybe we need some sort of coding system so it’s clear what different people are accused of?

    1. Ballotpedia lists three Democrats as already having filed to run in Fahrenthold’s district (deadline is Dec 11 of this year, I think). All male, unfortunately, but who knows. At least we are not going to let him run unopposed.

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