Harassment and Scandal

Bill O’Reilly is now out at Fox News, following by a few months the ouster of Roger Ailes, each removal the result of the revelation of a long and continuing pattern of inappropriate sexual behavior including sexual harassment. Does such behavior, as well as the long-term retention of two such individuals by the highly conservative Fox organization, have anything to do with the political outlook of Republicans and conservatives?

Certainly, a great number of liberals think so, especially some in my own family, but are conservatives really more likely to behave badly in the sexual/gender area than are liberals?

I can name a number of liberals and Democrats who have engaged in what most would call sexual improprieties, going all the way back to President Grover Cleveland, who fathered a child out of wedlock, or Franklin Roosevelt who had several affairs while in public office, or John Kennedy, or Bill Clinton. On the Republican side, the most obvious were Warren Harding who had a fifteen year affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips, Dwight Eisenhower who had a brief affair with his military driver, or Nelson Rockefeller,who had quite a few indiscretions, but the list of sexual political improprieties among national political figures is long and it includes roughly the same numbers of Republicans and Democrats. What it doesn’t include is many women [I could only find one out of more than 100 Republicans and Democrats listed for sexual crimes and improprieties], which suggests that women in power are either far less likely to engage in sexual indiscretions or less likely to be found out.

On the issue of harassment, however, conservatives and Republicans seem to do more of that, or at least they’ve been found out and charged with it more often. In addition to the Ailes and O’Reilly cases, there was Senator Bob Packwood (R-ORE) who resigned in 1995 under a threat of public senate hearings related to 10 female ex-staffers accusing him of sexual harassment. As candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination, both Donald Trump and Herman Cain were charged with sexual harassment. Clarence Thomas was also accused of sexual harassment. Then there was the Oklahoma state representative who used state funds to pay off a judgment against him for sexually harassing a staffer, or the Texas Congressman who tried to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, who had earlier been charged with sexual harassment by an employee whom he later fired, or the Wisconsin state assembly Republican majority leader who was convicted of sexual assault, or… the list is very long.

Democrats certainly aren’t blameless, starting with Teddy Kennedy, former Senator Brock Adams, Congressmen Tim Mahoney, Jim Bates, and Mel Reynolds, but the list of actual Democratic harassers is about a fourth the size and length of the list of Republican harassers.

And then I came across an interesting chart of criminal misconduct by Presidential administration. Since Richard Nixon, whose administration resulted in 76 criminal indictments, 55 convictions and 15 prison sentences for members of his administration, there have been four Republican administrations and three Democratic administrations. The Democratic administrations had three criminal indictments, one conviction, and one prison sentence. The Republican administrations had 44 criminal indictments, 34 convictions, and 19 prison sentences.

The way it seems to stack up is that political viewpoint doesn’t make much difference in terms of consensual or semi-consensual sexual indiscretions, but the Republican/conservative outlook seems to result in more abuses of power and position.

But, from what we’ve seen recently, is that really surprising? Or is it that Democrats are really better politicians and are better at sexual persuasion?

4 thoughts on “Harassment and Scandal”

  1. Hanneke says:

    I think this might relate to the kinds of personalities/mindsets that are mainly attracted to each party, based on the kinds of ideas that party espouses (which has changed over time).
    There has been some research done on this, from reading which I remember the following.

    Republicans (at least in these last decades) tend to be more authoritarian types, who regard obedience to authority and doing one’s duty very highly, are more conservative, and are good to their small in-group, but regard most other people as “them, not us”, and are initially afraid of change and anything seen as “other”; they learn best from personal experience and tend to assimilate new ideas or policy consequences only when they directly impact them or their close circle of family/ friends/ neighborhood/ business colleagues/ hometown or other in-group.
    A consequence of that is that others whom they don’t know may then be exploited (or suffer other negative consequences) for the good of “us”.

    Democrats (in present-day political nomenclature) tend to regard empathy and equality highest, are more open to new ideas, and tend to define the groups they identify with (much) broader (often more on the lines of my whole generation, everybody living in the US, us humans, life on Earth, present and future generations). Thus the exploitation of “the other” comes much less naturally to them as a group, as well as less structural expectation of subordinates acquiescing to unreasonable demands by the boss and/or helping to shield said boss from the consequences of his actions.

    There may also be less expectation among Democrat politicians of being able to get away with bad actions without consequences because of wealth and power, in that for a long time Republicans have been the party of the wealthy and the big corporations. That’s not to say there are no rich Democrats or poor Republicans, just that the party leaders and (higher-level) politicians of the one have on average had more money behind them, and this does have an effect on how justice is meted out in the US (not in every case, but in the aggregate). The expectation of not having to pay for one’s misdeeds may make people more inclined to commit them.

    And thirdly, regarding the many men and few women in power who commit sexual indiscretions, this may have a lot to do with testosterone. Broadly speaking, men in power make more of it, and it both increases sexual drive and makes them feel powerful enough to get away with things. Combine that with an authoritarion personality type, and you get that sense of entitlement that “since I’m now in authority I should get what I want, and you should give it to me”… Especially if the women around them are of the same authoritarian type (for whom duty and obedience to authority are very important), they’ll be inclined to “follow the leader” as long as they are under his influence, and give him what he had no right to ask of them.
    This is perhaps more likely for Republican politicians, as each administration brings in its own staff from their own party members, and as said above each party attracts a certain type of personality.

  2. Tom says:

    While side-effects of testosterone do include aggressiveness this not necessarily sexual aggressiveness.
    What I do not understand is how these people can consider themselves ‘manly’ or ‘macho’ if they abuse those who are weaker than themselves (in reality or perceptually)?

    But then the side-effects of testosterone do include :
    Acne or oily skin
    Mild fluid retention
    Stimulation of prostate tissue, with perhaps some increased urination symptoms such as a decreased stream or frequency
    Increased risk of developing prostate cancer
    Breast enlargement
    Increased risk of blood clots
    Worsening of sleep apnea (a sleep disorder that results in frequent night time awakenings and daytime sleepiness)
    Decreased testicular size
    Increased aggression and mood swings
    May increase risk of heart attack and stroke

    Laboratory abnormalities that can occur with hormone replacement include:

    Changes in cholesterol and lipid levels
    Increase in red blood cell count
    Decrease in sperm count, producing infertility (especially in younger men)
    Increase in PSA

  3. David Sims says:

    You might could broaden the scope of your inquiry to include research into the political ideologies of persons who, rather than commit sexual harassments that constitute offenses LESS serious than rape or sexual assault, persons who DO commit rape and/or sexual assault. Do conservatives commit rape more than liberals do, or is it the other way around?

    And is this the best way to pose the question? Maybe there’s some human factor other than political ideology that is even more correlated with violent sex offenses than ideology is. Hmmm…

    Also, you might find it worthwhile to discover which political ideology is most often that of persons who, instead of perpetrating sexual offenses themselves, turn it into a form of organized crime, creating child pornography for sale and/or pimping children, as in England (1998-2012, the Rotherham scandal) and in Brazil (? to 2000, Arie Scher and George Schteinberg), or enslaving women for the purpose of prostitution.

    Although it would be interesting to discover whether a correlation exists between this kind of behavior and political ideology, there might be other things besides political ideology that might be as or more correlated with a tendency to commit sex offenses in a large-scale, organized way. That information would be interesting, also.

  4. Alan Naylor says:

    I think that David has identified something that is important, and often neglected in studies. Just because a creature is female, it does not follow that it is human, or even a mammal. Studies make much of their findings but there are many many variables associated with any person who could be studied to determine the ‘why’ of their actions.

    Religious outlook, upbringing (which is a huge platform and difficult to pin a single cause to), political views, world experience, sex, race, etc. The list is gigantic and I feel that trying to claim all people of any one category of anything will act in a given way is quite difficult to factually do.

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