How not to be that guy

So, we’ve got another story about another man who reportedly thinks it’s just fine to size up women just doing their job.

As MinnPost first reported, Sen. Dan Schoen, from Cottage Grove, allegedly sexually harassed women at the Legislature and who were campaigning.

This is the most damning paragraph in Briana Bierschbach’s story detailing the allegation from Lindsey Port, who was running for the Legislature.

Port, a small-business owner, had recently announced her plans to run for a state House seat in the Burnsville area. At the DNC event, she was chatting with other candidates and state legislators about her busy summer knocking on doors — a common campaign activity — when Schoen, then a representative in the House, stepped back to look at her from behind.

“‘I can tell when a candidate is doing a good job knocking on doors by checking out their ass,’” Port says Schoen told her. “He said, ‘Yep, looks like you’re doing a good job.’”

Schoen’s response is bewildering, as described by Bierschbach. He recalls each of the incidents, but says the allegations were either false or taken out of context.

“How could someone who is commenting on a colleague’s ‘ass’ not know it was inappropriate?” former legislator Pam Neary wrote in a letter to MinnPost. “Even more chilling was his text to an unknown person that referred to his predatory behavior as if it were hunting season in Minnesota — a mostly male sport with a clear objective of ‘bagging’ the chosen prey.”

The steady drumbeat, now, of sexual harassment allegations gives us pause to ask them a question: Who raised you?

With each Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Michael Oreskes, and Kevin Spacey comes a recognition that too many fathers have failed to raise their sons with an understanding of what it means to be a man and how to treat women people with the respect that anyone deserves.

So let Yvonne Abraham, a columnist for the Boston Globe, do the job that too many fathers apparently are not capable of doing: teaching men how not to be that guy.

She does so in this morning’s column, after getting reaction to a previous column that caused too many men to get their feelings hurt.

Our body parts
I’m starting basic here, to build your confidence. Women’s breasts — even large ones — do not exist for your entertainment in the workplace. Do not talk to a woman’s breasts. Make eye contact during conversations, even with women you find attractive. Do not talk about breasts, or use the necklaces that hang near them as Trojan horses for breast-talk. And definitely do not touch breasts. Very bad.

Your body parts
This may be hard to hear, but not everyone loves the little guy like you do. Do not speak of it to women at work or at work-related events. Do not send pictures of it to them, either. Definitely do not insist that they have any contact with it whatsoever. Do not, under any circumstances, whip it out in the workplace. For example, agreeing as a group to display your wares, and inviting a new employee to judge whose manhood is most impressive, is extremely unprofessional (Yes, this really happened).

Your pornography
Have at it at home, if that’s your thing. But the workplace is no place in which to consume pornography. Ever. Definitely don’t watch it on your office computer, where the IT guys will eventually find it. Not on your phone. Not even when you’re hanging with your boys on the House floor. Even women who themselves enjoy pornography will not take to the idea of you watching it as they toil beside you. And while we’re at it, do not try your hand at making porn in the workplace. Do not use your cellphone to take shots up your colleagues’ skirts or attempt to photograph their cleavage in meetings. Do not capture Snapchat images of your co-worker in a bathing suit (She knows it was you).

Your texts
It is such a marvelous invention, but please use your phone wisely. Do not use it to text women (Other than those with whom you are in a fully consenting relationship) with proposals that they engage in sexual activity of any kind. Do not text compliments on her behind or her breasts (see above). She may reply “ha ha,’’ or not reply at all, but she almost certainly does not think it’s funny. More likely, she is appalled, but she knows you have more power than she does, and she has no idea how else to respond. Also, if you are making propositions via text messages, which can be saved on a screenshot and possibly shared with a reporter who has to take a shower every time she sees them, you are also as dumb as bricks. Resign immediately.

Your power
Ask yourself: Does this young intern or aide or server, just starting out in a career where you hold the cards, truly find your usually much older, probably married self attractive? When you massage her shoulders at a bar near the office, or gyrate near her face in the manner of a pasty Chippendale, are you sure she likes it? If she didn’t, would she really feel she could tell you, given that doing so could imperil her career prospects, or her pay? In other words, does she have full agency in this situation? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you’re done.

Seems simple enough, even for a man whose father was probably that guy.

Oh, and she’s got one for the “I was just joking” crowd, too.

“Do not do this, not only because it demeans the very hard work the woman did to get to where she is, or because it makes her feel like crap, which it does, but also because, years later, she could call you out publicly,” she says.

Don’t read the comments.

Related: Brave Enough to be Angry (NY Times)

Victims Of Sexual Harassment Speak Up, But Legal Fears Can Inhibit Them (NPR)

  • >>“‘I can tell when a candidate is doing a good job knocking on doors by checking out their ass,’” Port says Schoen told her. “He said, ‘Yep, looks like you’re doing a good job.’”<<


    • flqueenfan

      Out of idle curiosity, does he assume the campaigner is using her posterior to knock? I’m just trying to figure out how he “thinks” knocking on doors gets one a great a$$.

  • jon

    “Definitely don’t watch it on your office computer, where the IT guys will eventually find it.”

    I’m not a woman, I am an IT guy, as such I will reiterate this particular request… Please don’t watch porn on your work machine… I hate having to talk to people about it, I hate having to report it… I hate having to deal with it… just don’t do it and there won’t be a problem.

    (Yes I have had to talk to people about it… I’ve had co-workers who did a backup/restore of users laptops to the network have security show up to escort them out of the building because of the pornography under their name on network shares (took some managers to straighten that out), and I’ve seen computers where “barbies princess adventure” link is on the desktop next to “Hard c0re girlz bang3d xxx 13742194xp2.avi” (or something like that)
    I had to tell those people that their work laptop is both not for porn and not for their daughter to play games on, as I fired off a virus scan, and updated all the firewall settings, and started uninstalling video games…)

    • Agreed 100%.

    • Kassie

      At my employer, even with union protections, there is no talking to people about it. If caught, you are walked out the door. The only exception I’ve seen is someone who used their work computer at home, not on work time, and not connected to the work network to view portn. He really thought it would be ok, but was fired. He got his job back in arbitration because they thought it was reasonable he didn’t know.

      • jon

        1) union protections are very little compared to the protection you get from making a company lots and lots of money.
        2) The scenarios I dealt with were exclusively as you described… machines that were used at home, off the network…
        3) We never even went looking for it on these people’s machines, they just never bothered to hide it… some one gave me their machine for a software update with a DVD in the drive (well lots of people did that, but only one of them was porn… p.s. pro-tip if you leave iron man in your dvd drive when you give the computer to IT for a quick upgrade, expect IT to take longer with your machine than anyone elses… about the runtime of the movie longer… not that it matters most of that stuff is automated now and done over the network/internet..) Any how… it’s amazing how the lack of shame about it it both what gets you caught and what shows all that red on your face when some one points out that this is your first and last warning.

    • Barton

      It amazes me what people use their work computers or work email addresses for….

      I work in a regulated industry, meaning our emails are captured, reviewed and retained. A higher up (very high up) was using his work email to meet prostitutes, who kept suggesting to him in replies that he NOT use his work address but get a new gmail address for this purpose. He declined that opportunity, and then all the sudden after an email review, he was seeking outside opportunities.

  • KariBemidji

    “Schoen’s response is bewildering, as described by Bierschbach. He recalls each of the incidents, but says the allegations were either false or taken out of context.”

    Context? Unless you’re their personal trainer, there is no context.

  • Veronica

    And don’t let your friends be that guy. If you’re a guy, and a friend talks like that even if it’s just to you about someone else–tell him it’s just not OK.

    For all the Weinsteins, Oreskes, etc. there are Jarl Mohns and Quentin Tarantinos– and they need to be called out too.

  • Mike Worcester

    //Don’t read the comments.

    I don’t plan on it. Too early in the day to have my faith in humanity shattered….again.

    • wjc

      You have faith in humanity? How’d that happen?

  • Rob

    Awesome article in today’s Guardian by Alissa Quart: “What’s the common denominator among sexual harassers? Too often, it’s money”

    • Kassie

      I assume that it means they have some? Schoen isn’t rich. He’s a cop and legislator, there is little money in that. I’ve been sexually harassed working in factories by just above poverty employees. The common denominators seems to be to be 1) men and 2) power. Sometimes its women, but always its power, someone who is in a better situation than you. No one is ever harassed by the intern, unless the intern is someone’s kid.

  • Chris Moseley

    Just to be nitpickingly clear, Kevin Spacey is accused of harassing young men, not women.

    • Kellpa07


  • crystals

    I would like for every one of the men associated with the Legislature who are currently talking about how Schoen’s behavior was well known and that there are others who act like him to take a hard look within and ask themselves – honestly – why they haven’t said a damn thing about it until now.

    • Bridget L.

      Because they don’t want to admit that they’re that guy, or that they could be construed as that guy, or they don’t want to change their behavior, or because women haven’t said anything than it possibly can’t be that bad, or they were only joking, or….

    • flqueenfan

      I worked at the MN Legislature from 2001 to 2008. In 2006 we had a sexual harassment seminar–but members were specifically told they did not need to attend. The staff all laughed, men and women, because we all knew *we* weren’t the reason for the seminar.

  • Jeff

    There was a story from the BBC a month or so ago about how boys in Kenya are taught to intervene when the see sexual harassment. Instead of a lecture it involves a lot of play-acting. It’s much easier to do the right thing when you’ve had some practice at it and know the right things to say and do. Seems like something that should be mandatory here.

    I couldn’t find the audio but this is the African BBC version:

    • Barton

      the same series of articles (if not the same story) was also teaching girls how to protect themselves. Teaching them that they did not have to just accept that attitude.

  • >>Don’t read the comments.<<

    I read the comments…

    I wish I hadn't.

  • Gary F

    and this story now gets bigger.

    “To be honest, there are other people in this building, it’s not just Sen. Schoen, there are other people at the Capitol that women are warned to be careful around,” Becker-Finn said.

    “I’ve worked in public service for the county and the state and it’s really disheartening that this is the most hostile environment I have ever worked in is here at the state capitol,” she added.

  • AL287

    This just in from Time magazine:

    “Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult
    carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” Alabama state auditor Jim
    Ziegler told the Washington Examiner on Thursday.

    I think most states have laws on the books making sex with a juvenile a felony offense.

    God did it. Why can’t I do it?

    I don’t have words to describe my disgust with an analogy like that.