AP NEWS

Men say they’re guilty until proven innocent in #MeToo era

September 4, 2018

Men say they’re guilty until proven innocent in #MeToo era

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Some men now view all women as suspect.

That’s what one female business owner told cleveland.com after Shatter, our women’s issues page, asked if men have stopped mentoring women in their offices. 

“It’s almost like all women are a ticking time bomb that could take them down at any minute,” she wrote in an email. “These guys genuinely don’t seem to know the difference between inappropriate sexist behavior and other behavior, so they just pull back and interact awkwardly. They ask me weird questions like, ‘So I just can’t kid around at all anymore?’ They’re genuinely perplexed.”

That seems like hyperbole -- until you read the cleveland.com comments. They’re startling in their fervor that #MeToo has victimized men.

A few choice comments from our last call for personal anecdotes of women cut out of workplace mentoring:

Liberty Boulevard: One can be called out by a woman at or after work for the very vague and passive/aggressive “unwelcome comment” accusation. It could be an obvious joke, term of endearment, old school compliment or whatever. But if the woman has an axe to grind or wants to manipulate management against one who made the “comment,” it’s much like guilty until proven innocent.

LouKoumathi: Exactly! It’s not a level playing field. The male is guilty no matter what. The female’s accusation is Gospel! I stopped even addressing women at work. I refused to interact with them after all the garbage they pulled. 1st opportunity to get out I was gone! Now the company is having trouble with it’s female workers. And they can’t get rid of them either. Feminism has destroyed our nation.

EconBill: Any man who tries to mentor a women today is crazy! At my company, men laugh about the ‘tribunal’ that many have to go to if they speak out of line. This includes speaking loudly (intimidating), using strong language (not cursing), overly criticizing a mistake, objectionable body language, strongly worded emails/documents, and other micro aggression’s. Men are routinely summoned to an HR tribunal to discuss how they used their toxic masculinity to demean a women...I am outgoing and fun but now I rarely talk to female employees. I never invite them out for a drink, or to a ball game. I have severed all social interaction with females at work. You cannot make this stuff up! It is crazy!!!  

Ebbucate: I do not allow opposite sexes to intern with each other. i barely even allow interning at all these days. 

Terdolph: Do not ever meet with a female employee alone in a room with a closed door. Do not ever invite or attend a social event with a female employee unless there are other witnesses present. In general, do not ever place yourself in a situation where it would be your word against hers. I have followed these rules for the past 25 years and have never had a complaint made against me by a female employee or subordinate. Now, if she is a superior, you can do whatever you want! 

There is a fine line between sexual assault and romance. In the latter, you get married. In the former, you get sued. It’s all in the eye of the alleged victim/spouse, ex post facto.

Then there’s commenter CoolHandMike, who lives up to his name:

CoolHandMike: The problem isn’t mentoring women. The problem is sexually assaulting them. 

Exactly. I’d like to point out here that women are not the issue, or the enemy. The #MeToo movement aims to end sexual harassment, not eliminate interaction between men and women. Though apparently Terdolph can’t tell the difference.

What do you think? How has the atmosphere changed in your office over the last year, since men in workplaces across the nation were accused of sexual harassment?

One reader said in an email that not talking to women is “simple insurance against a lawsuit.

“Every single person has said something stupid while drinking. No man wants to jeopardize his career because of it. Men will call a shit talker a jackass and move on.  Women will sue you for the same thing.”

Another man said he won’t even test a woman’s welding skills in his workshop.

“I was asked twice to give a woman a tour of our facility. Not a chance. I have kids in college and no way will I do anything that may jeopardize my job.”

Men, what do you think? We’d love to hear from men who are successfully navigating the new landscape.

Share your story, anonymously, by emailing Laura Johnston at ljohnston@cleveland.com.

AP RADIO
Update hourly