Stop the paternalism of men “empowering” women

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

As the outrage over the masses of men accused of sexual harassment throughout media and other fields grows, we are increasingly being confronted with a new male narrative: “I am a champion of women” or “I empower women.” This is the refrain of men who now feel challenged in their positions of power. For years the men who dominated media, entertainment and politics tended to pat themselves on the back. It was a male world run by the Matt Lauers, Charlie Roses and Harvey Weinsteins. But they were all “empowering” women.

We hear this refrain again and again, especially about some of those accused of harassment who fall into less clearly abusive categories. Of Leon Wieseltier we hear “His role as a mentor to female colleagues, however, was somewhat complicated by his louche reputation.” Charlie Rose: “The women spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared Mr. Rose’s power over their careers.” Glenn Thrush: ” She wrote that three other women — all young and early in their journalism careers — described incidents with Thrush.

The problem is that the gateway into journalism and other fields always seems to be through a man. How is that possible when it’s been decades since the “sexual revolution”? How is it possible that most newspapers and major magazines seem to be disproportionately run by men? It’s not just a few examples, it’s a large number. It is also common among the supposed “progressive” side of the industry. Oddly, despite the lip service paid, women don’t advance in these places.

So when I have to read yet another man claim that he has “elevated men’s voices over women’s ones” but that, don’t worry, he is going to save women now. “I’ve begun reaching out to smart, thoughtful women.” Really? They need you to reach out to them? Because once again, you’re the man running something? Maybe instead of “reaching out” or making them beg for scraps at the table, you should just move out of the way.

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