Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose have become poster boys for sexual harassment. Yet, each of them sounds to me as if he is legitimately ill, not evil.
Men who want to have sex with women have a long history of normal behavior that includes asking those women to dinners or lunches or to go get a glass of wine, or even to go away for illicit rendezvous. Men who can’t take a hint keep on asking for these precursors to romance, even when it should be clear that they will never be accommodated.
Men who want to have sexual contact with women, barring psychiatric disorders, do not strut about naked, ask to be watched while showering, asked to be watched while masturbating or make lewd phone calls, out of the blue.
This is especially true for men who have, as Weinstein did, corporate jets and access to properties around the world and power aplenty with which to seduce women. It is especially true for men like Rose, surrounded by females who worship them as icons and are more likely to be sexually attracted to them, for that reason. And it is especially true for men like Louis CK, who are applauded on stage for brilliant creative work, by audiences that include hundreds or thousands of women.
99.999 percent of males know, in fact, with the absolute certainty with which we know our names and our dates of brith, that suddenly appearing without clothing, in a female’s midst, or suddenly asking whether we can touch ourselves in front of them, will elicit nothing other than shock, revulsion and the desire to flee (even if it is suppressed, in order to keep a job).
Behavior of the outrageous kind, in circumstances like those of Weinstein and Rose, isn’t evidence of a run-of-the-mill moral or ethical failing. It is evidence of disease. These men aren’t very far from old-fashioned flashers in rain coats. And no one thought of those men as normal.
Only men with impulse control disorders or bipolar disorder or substance abuse disorders or paraphilias (insistent, sometimes nearly irrepressible, abnormal sexual impulses), often based in sexual abuse in their own early life experiences, get naked, suddenly.
It is understandable that the behaviors of Rose, CK (foolish last name, by the way) and Weinstein elicit rage. People were hurt by those behaviors. But, the rage misses the point. These men need psychiatric care and are, truth be told, probably should have been protected from losing their positions by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
I know that this psychiatric perspective is unlikely to be a popular perspective, but it’s the truth. And here at Respvblica we are not shy about sharing the truth as we know it.
Keith Ablow, MD