Posted by: notdeaddinosaur | December 19, 2017

The Rules Have Not Changed

In the wake of the recent flood of allegations of sexual harrasment against so many men in so many different positions of power, the refrain has begun, “The rules have changed.” Frivolous concerns about office holiday parties threaten to trivialize the remarkable transformation of women finally being believed, and men finally beginning to be held accountable for their actions.

The rules have not changed. What has changed is that, at long last, there are now real consequences for breaking the rules. Jobs lost, reputations shredded; punishment for the perpetrators instead of the victims for a change. We haven’t yet gotten around to actual reparations, but the emerging default stance of “believing the women” is at least a baby step in the right direction.

The rules have not changed.

It was never appropriate to solicit sex in the workplace. Bullying was never acceptable behavior. The abuse of power was, is, and always will be despicable. The only difference is that for too long, nothing happened to the perpetrators when the rules were broken. There was no punishment for misbehavior.

Now there is. At least for the moment. Just ask the women who brought down Robert Packwood in 1995. They thought they got something started. Oops. What’s another twenty years or so? Then again, with the Internet and social media, maybe this time really will be different. We can only hope.

As for the good men out there (who I choose to believe constitute the majority) you have nothing to worry about. Continue treating everyone in your workplace with respect, refrain from sexualizing professional encounters, don’t abuse your power with bullying behaviors, and you’ll be fine. As for those of you who may have skirted the line in the past, consider coming clean now, with real apologies, and cut it out going forward. But quit complaining that “the rules have changed.” They have not.



  1. Exactly! Thanks for being a voice of reason, Dino.

  2. So very well said. Thank you for articulating this so well.

  3. Nope, not the rules didn’t change. What changed is now there are real consequences for those who break them.

  4. Here’s a slightly edited version of a comment I left over at Kevin MD.

    If the rules haven’t changed they’ve become nebulous. MeToo conflates so many things over so wide a spectrum that it’s devoid of meaning. Better to state what really happened. Was the person raped? Molested by an uncle 30 years ago? Was someone groped? Was a job or advancement opportunity threatened because someone resisted a sexual advance? Did the boss tell an off color joke in the office? Or was someone complemented in a way she did not welcome? Just say whatever it was in plain language, in public if you must, or selectively to the people who need to know and can help.

  5. Robert: I also clarified at KevinMD: He included the reference to #MeToo in the post’s title. I did not, and frankly it doesn’t really apply to what I was saying.
    The rules have not become more nebulous. All that has happened is a slightly better chance that a harrassment victim MIGHT be believed and the perpetrator MAY suffer real consequences. Still a very long way to go. So far it seems like only the most egregious cases (Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, etc) are the ones coming down.

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