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The famous are being fired, e.g. Bill O’Reilly, Mark Halperin, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, apparently justifiably and long overdue. But I’m wondering about the suits in these corporations who are doing the firing. I guess Roger Ailes fits the latter as Fox News Chairman and CEO.

Point is, if an organizational culture overlooked such egregious behavior for years, likely more than just the famous were or are involved. When will they be held accountable?

And point is, we’ve found ourselves in a sea of allegations, which I do not doubt, drowning in what we mean. We all know what sexual harassment or sexual abuse is when we see it or hear about it, or do we? What are the moral and legal definitions and dividing lines, all of which seem to get lost in each news program panel discussing the latest guy to fall. I’m not by a long shot, for example, excusing "dirty" jokes or caddish behavior, but I do think these are different from abuse, assault, exposure, sex-for-promotion-propositions, pedophilia, etc. Meanwhile, we’re mixing them all together in our conversations.

The recent deluge of sexual harassment allegations got started with an October 5, 2017, New York Times piece detailing a list of sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, then Kevin Spacey, followed by several other Hollywood figures. It seems this broke the dam and women finally feel enough comfort zone to tell their stories, including rape accusations against some of the rich and famous.

The United States Congress is now facing its own sexual harassment Waterloo. Yet to be determined is who was involved and how much public money was used to settle sexual harassment complaints. This follows sexual harassment allegations against Senator Al Franken and Congressman John Conyers.

Professional sports is not unscathed, most recently with high profile Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott suspended for six games due to domestic violence allegations. Many others in all sports, including gymnastics, are now under investigation.

Religion is not without its sexual harassment or abuse problems, from the Catholic Church, 1990 to 2010, to more recent problems among “conservative Evangelicals.” I know from my own experience as a longtime Christian organization administrator that our H.R. offices had to deal with male/female relationship boundaries and inappropriate behavior issues, so this is not just a Hollywood problem.

Not least among concerns is the sexual abuse allegations leveled over time by at least 15 women against then businessman, then candidate, now President Donald Trump. These have gone unresolved. President Trump has denied these allegations, saying they are the products of fake news, media bias or conspiracies, political smear campaigns, or are all just “locker room talk.”

One sidebar here: sexually inappropriate behaviors are not a partisan issue. Neither Republicans or Democrats have a clean record and neither party is much of an example about how to properly deal with moral or ethical breaches of its members. 

Let’s pause for some delineations:

Sexual abuse can occur in several different ways: pedophilia or incest, sexual harassment, sexual assault involving force, e.g. rape or sodomy, domestic violence, exhibitionism or exposure, unwanted sexual touching, obscene phone calls or texts, and more.  Sexual abuse is also known as molestation. When force is involved, it's called sexual assault. Sexual harassment can occur in many different forms in the workplace, much of it about power as much as sex.

In sports, some 90% of sexual abuse involves an older male and a younger female. All other possible age and gender combinations are represented in the last 10%. Likely this distribution applies throughout society.

The fact that sexual harassment allegations are pouring forth may be disheartening but they also might be looked upon as purifying. Finally, women are in a position to state their case and push for social change in how they're treated in the workplace and anywhere else they choose to go. 

On a moral basis the way forward is clear (and should have been clear long before). Men and women should treat each other with respect. Men and women should not cross moral boundaries, i.e. not engage in sexually related references and conversations, and certainly not engage in sexually related touching outside the bounds of preferably lifelong, monogamous marriage. If men and women observed moral boundaries, most sexually related incidents, "mistakes," grievances, or crimes would be eliminated.

So the need is not for more anti-sexual harassment training, not for more sensitivity orientation, not for more legal definitions, not for more H.R. policies, not even, I think, on an individual level for “therapy,” but for a renewal of common sense, religiously-based private and public morality. We all need a moral code to live by, and to "fix" this national problem, we must start with the heart, not the mind or even the body.

What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

imagesFollowing the now infamous Harvey Weinstein, we’re hearing calls for Hollywood organizations, including the Academy, to set up policies and protocols “to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” This is an admirable goal, if a day late and a dollar short. But I have a question, how exactly do you do this in an industry based upon moral relativism?

If an industry spends millions saying, “anything goes,” and then it does, on what grounds does it now condemn virtually any behaviors? And why do we believe policies generated in H.R., or therapy for that matter, will make the problem go away?

And lest we single out Hollywood and miss the greater problem, men in Sports, Military, Politics—on both sides of the partisan aisle—Business, Media, and even Religion have done and likely are still doing what Weinstein did.

In 2005, Access Hollywood caught then businessman-turned-TV-star Donald Trump on video tape, which later surfaced during the 2016 presidential campaign. On tape, Trump said, "I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” He went on in this tape to make significantly more lewd remarks. He was referencing kissing and groping, along with conquest attempts, women without their consent. All this he later dismissed as just "locker room talk,” but the talk show host in the same video, Billy Bush, lost his job.

The Catholic Church was engulfed in the early 2000s (though other scandals occurred earlier) with a sexual abuse scandal that eventually reached worldwide proportions. Dozens of men accused priests of exploiting them when they were children in the church.  Millions were spent in closed settlements and periodically similar sex abuse scandals continue to plague the Catholic Church.

In 2011-2012, the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal broke, badly tarnishing the reputation of Penn State University and legendary football coach Joe Paterno, who died at age 85 in January 2012, some said of a broken heart.  Sandusky is now in prison, but the hurt among scores of young men and their families continues.

American professional sports, especially the NFL, has its own boatload of now seemingly regular sex harassment or assault or related domestic violence issues. Among the highest profile recently is Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. And even the U.S. military is plagued by sexual harassment and assault scandals, including at the highest ranks featuring “the swinging general” and “flirtatious” texts involving both married and non-married troops.

Since at least Francis A Schaeffer and others in the 1960s, some philosophers, theologians, or Christian pundits, including women, have warned us about moral relativism, the idea there is no right or wrong. This view sounded good to a culture that wished to throw off all restraints, especially sexual. But here we are in 2017 and we’re being overwhelmed by polarization, hyper-partisanship, crudeness, fake news, lack of integrity and character in “leadership,” declining free speech, racism, sexual harassment or assault...

None of what’s threatening us is a surprise. We’ve known all along that if we throw off moral categories what we have left is “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

The solution is not TV psychologists.  It’s not more stringent H.R. policies, though these may be needed.  The solution is certainly not Democrat or Republican.

The solution is nothing short of a revival of public cultural consensus re the idea of objective truth—the idea right and wrong—truth—existing outside ourselves and that we all are held individually responsible and accountable. This comes first and foremost from the Bible, the Word of God, and secondly from the Church teaching moral principles, speaking the truth with love, but by all means speaking the truth without compromise.

The Word of God long ago specified how men and women should relate morally, socially, physically, and in terms of mutual respect.  We don’t need new standards. We need a revival of commitment to old, eternal standards.

Without this renewal of belief in truth, meaning there is identifiable right and wrong, the centrifugal forces in our culture will continue to spin toward irrationality. 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

So-called "gender issues" are synchronous, that is in time, with my adult life. I remember Women's Lib, bra-burning, and the ERA in the 70s. As I say this, I don't mean to imply that everything about these movements, actions, and legislation was wrong, bad, or misguided. In fact, I do not. But issues and movements tend to expand, sometimes beyond what the founders envisioned or even desired, sometimes to levels most would call extremes.

The phrases "gender issues" or "gender confusion" these days involves a lot of extremes well beyond the initial desire of reformers in the early 20th Century who worked to earn for women the right to vote and beyond what reformers in the late 20th Century wanted for women in equal pay for equal work, equal access, or simply equality in the marketplace of ideas, professions, and culture. Today gender issues involve what must be labeled sexual immorality at the least or perversion at the worst.

This video column scratches the surface of these issues with what amounts to an introductory comment:

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

To my recollection, I’ve never publicly spoken the four-letter word beginning the title of this piece. I’ve always considered it a crude, unnecessary word, one that refers to things better described, if one must, in more polite and sophisticated terminology. Yet here it is in mainstream media.

The saga begins in January when a Toronto police constable named Michael Sanguinetti told a York University security class “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." While Sanguinetti later apologized for his comments his mea culpa was not enough for individuals who considered his statement indicative of deeper attitudinal problems in the police force.

On April 3, 2011, organizers in Toronto put together the first “Slut Walk” to protest what they considered blatantly chauvinistic police attitudes toward female sexual assault victims, which they felt perpetuated a “culture of rape.” Their concern is that insofar as such attitudes exist they shift responsibility for crimes like rape from the male assailants to the female innocents, i.e., “blaming the woman.”

Since this time, several other “SlutWalks”—now one word—have been organized in cities like Boston, Asheville, Dallas, Hartford, Rochester, San Francisco, along with plans for Seattle, other US cities, and cities in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Facebook hosts several related sites, and Toronto SlutWalk has its own website.

Some signage at slutwalks feature comments too graphic to write here. Some say things like, “I’m a slut and proud of it,” or “I’m a slut. Don’t rape me,” and so it goes. Some marchers have dressed in “provocative” clothing, or actually very little clothing. Organizers say the walks are about bringing attention to “slut-shaming,” meaning blaming women for sex crimes. Or organizers say the walks are about “empowerment.”

So what are we to make of this movement? Several thoughts come to mind:

--Anything a man says about women’s clothing or sexuality immediately opens him to charges of inappropriate thoughts or ignorance, as in he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Such is the danger even in this blog. But where does this perspective leave conscientious fathers or for that matter any responsible moral male members of society?

--The police officer’s comment was crude, ill advised, and possibly indicative of a less than caring attitude about female sexual assault victims. On the other hand, one could say his comments, though coarse or tasteless, represented a degree of common sense, that is, that women should be aware of and take some responsibility for their own security—even though it’s certainly true that male perpetrators of sex crimes are the criminals in this equation.

A small analogy might be: if I leave my car unlocked yet loaded with technology like laptops and I am robbed, am I the victim? Yes I am. Is the thief responsible? Yes he is. Was I wise or did I use common sense? No I did not.

--Women are innocent victims of more sexual assault or other unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances (no matter what they're wearing) than we generally imagine. It happens every day, and it happens up and down across society, worldwide, in every culture including our own. The organizers of SlutWalks, the marchers, and others offended by the officer’s comment are not “making up” the problem of sexually related offenses and crimes affecting women.

--“Movements” like SlutWalks may have at least some point, but often such movements get over-taken by multiple agendas. In this case, asking questions about how sexual assault victims are really treated is a worthy endeavor. But the walks have also been the scene of flaunted immoral values and behaviors, a means for advancing LGBT political and legal homosexuality agendas, and a crude, even raunchy, expression of what feminism at its best was supposed to be.

--It strikes me that while the officer’s comment was needlessly and maybe unprofessionally smutty, so is the choice of name and motif of SlutWalks. I don’t like or can’t see myself involved in supporting either effort, even though I think the officer had a point to make and the slutwalks have some point to make. The officer’s comment was a long way from the Christian man of Proverbs 1-9 and the slutwalks are a long way from the Christian woman of Proverbs 31.

--From a Christian perspective, it seems to me there are many ways one can address a very real problem of sex crimes, human trafficking, and pornography in society. One of them is via groups like Women At Risk, International. I’d much rather recommend WAR, International than SlutWalks.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

News from France this week is a noticeable increase in advertisements offering home repair or other similar services in return for “hugs.” What this really means, of course, is trading or bartering work for sex.

The idea is that because of the global recession people have less discretionary income to care for necessary home or related upgrades. So enterprising skilled workers are offering home fixes for “tender moments,” “saucy evenings,” etc. Why wouldn’t women jump at this great deal? Apparently some do.

Pundits are debating whether this new online trend is a form of prostitution or just an old practice made more widely available and openly evident over the Internet. Others consider it simply another form of entrepreneurship, tapping into ones “sexual capital” in order to “purchase” what one needs.

Of course the basic idea of people trading or leveraging sex in return for something, or vice versa, is as old as humanity. It’s not new. Online ads are just a new application of an old transaction, whether fully willing or not on the part of both parties involved.

Morally and socially, though, there’s much to critique. Nothing in religious let alone Christian teaching would suggest sex bartering is acceptable or wise. Socially, the practice indicates once again the degree to which particularly Western culture has turned sex into a commodity. The human body and its sexual capacity are merely things to be used for personal gain. Relationships aren’t relationships at all, just encounters. And another worry: whether moral turpitude or social shallowness or both these transactions open the door to more STDs.

Morally speaking from a Christian perspective, whether monetized or bartered, sex for hire or compensation cannot be justified. It makes no difference how sex is traded or sold, if it’s outside the bounds of monogamous marriage, it violates God’s moral will.

One is tempted to say something like, “Well, it’s the French. Enough said." But this isn’t fair to the French or accurate regarding the rest of the world. Sexual commodification is now a global problem. Witness huge worldwide increases, including in the United States, of sex trafficking. Bartering sex for services is just another way for contemporary culture to commit sexual suicide.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

When HBO’s new series, “Big Love,” begins Sunday evening, March 12, American television enters the brave new world of polygamy. In this program, a successful but struggling businessman juggles business, children, and three wives who live in adjacent houses on the same street. HBO says, “’Big Love’ explores the evolving institution of marriage through a typical atypical family.” It’s all quite normal, isn’t it, just another version of desperate housewives.

Multi-partner marriage is nothing new in American history.  Most people know the Mormon Church and in turn the territory of Utah permitted plural marriage until 1890 when polygamy was banned as a condition of statehood.  But that was more than a century ago and, though polygamy has continued to exist in clandestine arrangements since that time (According to a joint report issued by the Utah and Arizona attorney general's offices, July 2005, 'approximately 20,000 to 40,000 or more people currently practice polygamy in the United States.'  Others believe the number is closer to 100,000.), it has not been legal, has not been endorsed by America’s public moral consensus, and has not been considered a viable alternative to monogamous heterosexual marriage.  Now one wonders if the times, they are a changing.

Polygamy describes one husband with multiple wives or, rarely, one wife with multiple husbands. Polyamory is another term you need to learn, because we’re going to hear more about it. Polyamory describes any multi-partner or atypical familial relationship entered voluntarily by consenting adults. Polyamory encompasses polygamous marriages, same-sex marriages, bisexual relationships, and any of a host of other alternative sexualities and non-monogamous relationships. Polyamory isn’t yet a household word, but if liberals and secularists have any say, it will be.

For now, polygamy is the next battleground in the culture wars after same-sex marriage. Some proponents of gay marriage are not all that happy with polygamy’s re-emergence, primarily because they consider it a political threat to the potential success of their own movement to legalize same-sex marriage throughout America. Other proponents of gay marriage welcome polygamists as kindred spirits, people who in their vision just want to be left alone to do whatever they want to do in sex, love, and marriage.

After the Canadian Parliament legalized same-sex marriage the Liberal Party then in power authorized a commission to study polygamy and make recommendations. John Tierney, writing in The New York Times today, argued “Polygamy isn’t necessarily worse than the current American alternative: serial monogamy…If a few consenting adults…still want to practice polygamy, there’s no reason to stop them.” This is certainly not the view of women and children who have been part of polygamous relationships.

Christians sometimes struggle with outright moral condemnation of polygamy because it was alive and well among the Patriarchs of the Old Testament. God seemed to wink at it back then, so why would he care now? But he didn’t wink at it. One man, one woman, lifelong monogamous marriage has been God’s standard since the Garden of Eden. This is God’s moral will for those who remarry after the death of a spouse. This is God’s moral will for those who remarry after experiencing a biblically justifiable divorce. This is certainly God’s will for those getting married in the flower of youth, and it’s God’s will for newly formed older and elderly couples who are veterans of long marriages to a now deceased partner—living together is not a divine option either. Polygamy, polyamory, call it what you will, is not God’s desire for any of the Adams and Eves in the world.

HBO’s “Big Love” won’t change the culture by itself, but if its script and screen are well-presented Americans will watch, and the fact that it airs at all says something about the American consumer if not the culture. We’re a long way from “Ozzie and Harriett.”

 

© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.