At first, I thought it was an overreaction.
Then, it happened to me.
I can, therefore, no longer stay silent.
There is a dangerous wave sweeping America at the moment. It’s been building in strength for some time, and has finally washed ashore, seemingly taking it with it a common sense and ability to parse the seas of what is fact and what is hyperbole.
It brought me back to late 2017, and a magazine expose that was yet another seminal moment in the battle against those who use their power to subjugate women.
Mario Batali is an admitted sexual harasser. His not-so-secret world of using power to denigrate and hold sway of women was finally uncovered in December by “The New Yorker” magazine, and within no time took his meticulously crafted epicurean empire from gourmet to gutter.
I want you to keep the title of this article in mind. “The appetites of men”. We’ll come back around in a few moments.
Turns out the “New Yorker” piece was, as many expected, the tip of a very salacious and despicable iceberg.
Mario Batali may have once thought he could plot his way back to fame and fortune, but that is now a righteous impossibility. His reputation carries more than a few permanent stains, and the sheer volume of allegations and investigations assures he won’t be cooking up a comeback anytime soon, likely for the rest of his life.
In light of the furor, allegations, proven crimes and scandal gripping America at the moment over not merely the treatment of women, but the cavalier manner with which certain well known and powerful people have cast aside sexual assault allegations as if they never existed, let’s get back to the “New Yorker” headline and demand some necessary perspective.
In the case of Mario Batali, the author is correct that his “disregard for boundaries” is “repugnant”. Of course, in his world, all of this is nothing new. Everyone knew about it, no one talked about it, and the fear of repercussions for speaking out was and remains very real.
That is the core of these issues. Generational issues that have been covered up by and to aid the powerful. “Business as usual” for them.
Let’s stop and take a needed breath.
When it first appeared in 2017, the article headline was construed by many as blaming all men, accusing all men of having appetites fueled by power, money and fame.
That’s a dangerous generalization. It can, and has, led to suppositions, assumptions and the spread of damaging rumors.
“The New Yorker” and every media outlet needs to tread carefully, honestly and respectfully on this issue. And please, don’t insult the greater intelligence and make this only about politics. All that would do is show a disregard for facts and the real issue at hand.
The power of the media is very real. Words carry with them responsibilities, whether in print or spoken. Whether meant to or not, those words influence people, some smart, some not so smart, to think a certain way. And in this case, “The New Yorker” was yet another outlet that influenced people in what can only be viewed as both incorrect and lasting.
A proper and more editorially sound headline would have been “Mario Batali and the Appetites of Certain Men”. Because I have news for “The New Yorker”, plenty of others in the media trenches, both legitimate and illegitimate, and those who blindly follow such biased conclusions.
There are millions of respectful, thoughtful, considerate men here in America. They do not deserve to have their reputations besmirched or even remotely connected to these cretins by being generalized in such a manner.
I thought, perhaps hoped, even I was caught in mid-knee jerk about the headline.
Until this week.
When I experienced first hand what happens in a culture where headlines, social media, anger and insulting generalization collide.
A recent Facebook conversation with a friend, someone I do not know personally and who certainly doesn’t know me on a personal level. How the conversation began is not important nor relevant.
What stopped me cold was how this person suddenly, and without provocation, turned it into a generalization of my personal attitudes toward women, lumping me in with those who attack them as “one of you(sic) own”.
Despite the fact I have always, without fail or fear, stood loudly and proudly for the rights of women and all people to be taken seriously in the case of sexual assault, without warning or evidence, I was part of the slimy subculture that denigrates women at the drop of a soiled hat.
As we deal with generations of hate against women, those with different lifestyles, people who don’t “fit in” with how some want them to, we need to cease this prattling generalization pattern of anger, fear and loathing.
Mario Batali is a verminous predator. There are many like him, some even in seats of Government, who will go to any lengths in order to ensure powerful men are able to keep bloated butts in those seats.
Those are without question the minority. They do not stand for, nor represent, the vast majority of men who could never, under any circumstance, disrespect the women in our lives with such callous and often criminal disregard.
To do so would be the scar of a slap against our mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, friends, colleagues, even those we have never and perhaps never will meet.
There are plenty of good men out here, ones that do not deserve to be shoveled in with what amounts, in many cases, to a criminal element.
There are predators out there. Find them. Uncover them. Drive them back into the darkness from whence they emerged. Spare no expense to seek out the evidence and hold the guilty accountable.
The Brett Kavanaugh case is only our latest example. Those who claim they have irrefutable evidence he was lying. Those who respond back with irrefutable evidence there were no lies under oath.
Understand that for the first time in our society, women are finally speaking with a powerful and necessary voice to fight against generations of assault, abuse, harassment and degradation.
However, to indict an entire segment of society simply due to gender is troubling.
We are not all “one of your own”.
That’s insulting, demeaning, despicable and dangerous.
It does nothing to solve the issue at hand, only to drive this society further apart in fear. Comments and attitudes such as these drive the conversation off the road and into a ditch of disreputable discourse.
It is exactly what the cretinous and powerful want. It muddles the debate, forcing us into fighting among ourselves while the despicable escape.
Stop taking the bait.
Those of us with a moral compass and a sense of what is right, and what is wrong, are part of the solution.
All men are not the enemy.
Liars and criminals of both genders are.