Sexual harassment: In the age of #metoo, the generational excuse seems to have lived

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has been forced to resign, the latest politician to make cultural or generational excuses for his inappropriate attitude toward women. But in the age of #metoo, this defense seems more and more outdated.

• Read also: Andrew Cuomo, accused of sexual harassment, has announced his resignation

• Read also: Sexual Harassment: Complainant Comes Out Anonymous and Demands ‘Accountable’ New York Governor

“I knew people,” Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday, when announcing his resignation, a week after a damned official report was released, accusing him of sexual harassment by listing cases of 11 women, including former collaborators. .

“In my opinion, I didn’t cross the line with anyone,” said the county, who was accused by a former aide who filed a complaint, by touching her buttocks and chest.

But I didn’t realize the extent to which the boundaries were redefined. “There are cultural and generational changes that I don’t fully understand,” Cuomo, 63, added.

In office since 2011, Andrew Cuomo wasn’t the first to put forward some form of ignorance to justify his actions. Before him, former Senator Al Franken, who resigned from the US Congress in 2018, said he understood “crossing the line with some women.”

US President Joe Biden has also been accused of being too close contact, which his supporters attribute simply to his touching style.

“It invaded your space. I’m sorry for what happened,” he admitted. He defended it, saying, “But I’m not sorry in that I think I made a deliberate mistake.”

“next to topic”

For Jan Sindak, associate director of the Center for Women in Politics at Rutgers University, such a defense is a “false argument and misses the point.”

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“This behavior has always been inappropriate,” she told AFP. “But our society now understands that this is inappropriate, that women have suffered from this for so long, that it is no longer acceptable for them to suffer.”

Gender expert Audrey Nelson, for her part, calls the generational excuse a “scapegoat”.

“Personal space is personal space,” she stressed. “There is nothing for generations.” On the other hand, she asserts, “If we are to sum things up in one concept, it is the concept of power.”

She remembers in particular the case of former President Bill Clinton (1993-2001), who was accused by several women of sexual harassment, and was “known for attracting people” when he welcomed them.

“You squeezed his hand, and he took your arm and pulled you toward him,” he analyzed. “It’s an acquisition,” a concept she also applies to Andrew Cuomo. “It’s about oppression.”

“Earthquake”

Among the politicians forced to resign in such cases are many Democrats, such as Al Franken, former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and now Andrew Cuomo.

As for Republicans, either former President Donald Trump or Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has refused to resign. Alabama Republican Roy Moore ran for Senate twice, to no avail, despite accusations of sexual abuse of several women, including minors.

According to Jane Cinzdak, the two major parties do not necessarily react uniformly to his accusations. “Every case is different,” but in her view, “it would be more difficult for the ‘Democrats’ as a party, with the platform they have, to turn a blind eye.”

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She commends the #MeToo movement for “highlighting issues of (sexual) harassment and abuse and allowing women to have a platform to share their stories.”

“It’s the equivalent of an earthquake in politics, and we’ll feel aftershocks for a long time,” she predicts.

In this context, “intent,” put forward by Andrew Cuomo or Joe Biden, would not be a sufficient pretext, according to Audrey Nelson. “Be careful, be careful,” she asks, remembering that “hell is paved with good intentions.”

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