Man Gene’s Sexual Preference
My posts on The Man Gene could lead one to conclude that the gene has a heterosexual preference. Most of these posts involve men who use their positions to sexually harass female subordinates or co-workers. As an article in the Washington Post makes clear, however, The Man Gene has no sexual preference.
The article focuses on the scandal involving former Congressman Eric Massa, a 50-year-old married man. He routinely made aggressive sexual overtures toward young male employees. He touched male staffers, some of whom were gay, in inappropriate ways. He required some of them to make overnight trips with him. He expressed a desire to have sex with men in his office.
The Post tells a story of someone as out of control as Tiger Woods, except Massa wanted sex with men. He pursued his prey in the office, in hotels, in bars, and finally at the funeral of a dead Marine. For months, his top aides were unable to stop him. It was only after a Congressional investigation started that Massa stopped his egregious behavior and resigned.
As scandalous as sexual indiscretions (which often equal workplace harassment) are made to be, the perpetrators increasingly end up okay. Bill Clinton is a world leader. David Letterman is still telling jokes. Eliot Spitzer has become a political and financial pundit. Tiger Woods was welcomed to the Masters and came close to winning. Kobe Bryant is a bigger superstar than ever. Mark Sanford continues to be the governor of South Carolina. Only John Edwards wears the mantle of pariah.
The Massa case shows the difficulty for all employers to stop sexual harassment, particularly when it’s committed by a man at the top. The law nonetheless requires employers to stop it, no matter who’s involved. It’s a tough job, particularly when Victoria’s Secret runs its naked bra commercials with abandon. Can Fruit of the Loom be far behind?