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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov 4, 2011 7 Mar-Cheshvan 5772

Sexual signals aren't what they used to be

By Suzanne Fields




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The accusations of sexual harassment against Herman Cain are so far small potatoes, and badly baked at that. On a scale of 1 to 10, they're hovering around 2. Looking back, the accusations of Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas weren't so weighty, either. They were about a few suggestive remarks about a movie and a hair on a can of Coke.

Context is everything, of course. It's about the hierarchy in the workplace.

But when you remember that a sitting president with a reputation as an aspiring lady killer survived in office after he was impeached for lying about sex with a White House intern, we haven't yet defined sexual harassment. It probably depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

When the issue of harassment first splashed into the news two decades ago, the pundits and politicians (and everybody else who read a newspaper or watched television) played parlor games with the line "Is this harassment?" It resembled the old television show "What's My Line?" when a panel tried to discern a guest's occupation by asking questions. Sort of like charades: "Bigger than a breadbox?"

Defining harassment at the office is a guessing game, too. Is it harassment when an employer and employee flirt over cocktails at the office Christmas party? Or when they have too much to drink at a dinner at a convention far from home and slur their compliments? The New York Times reports that one of the Herman Cain episodes took place at a "work outing during which there was heavy drinking," which seems about par for an organization representing the hospitality industry. Dining and drinking are what restaurants and taverns are about.

The rules are loosely defined today when so much office socializing goes on over alcohol. Who's responsible if the lady starts the flirting with her boss? Now that the movies and television shows are saturated with cheap sexuality, what's OK in discussing them? What if being "one of the boys" seems to require laughing at suggestive jokes? Sexual signals aren't what they used to be.

Once women were liberated to be the equal to men and heir to all the perks and privileges in boardroom -- and bedroom -- the rules grew vague and murky. Justice Stewart Potter's famous definition of pornography, "I know it when I see it," became the working definition of sexual harassment. The mere accusation, whether proved or not, is worth a "settlement" rather than an expensive and messy trial, as one of the cases against Mr. Cain suggests. The lawyers call it "damage control." Any chief executive officer would tell you that "settling," even when he believes the accused party is innocent, is usually the easy way out. That's what his attorneys are telling him, too.

"Harassment" has taken a permanent place in the vocabulary of both work life and private life, filtering down to the conversations of schoolchildren. Substantial money is spent teaching the young about harassment and abusive relationships. Batteries of counselors enter even the early grades to conduct "exercises" in identifying harassment in abusive relationships, even among children in their early teens.

The Los Angeles Times reports an exercise where students had to decide what constitutes reasons for ending a bad relationship. In one script, a girl pinches a boy for looking at another girl. Is that a relationship breaker? Such an exercise may be verging on the ridiculous, but it's nevertheless typical. There's a push to put such programs like this in schools across the country.

It may seem a reach to go from the accusations against Mr. Cain to issues of harassment among teenagers, but we've so trivialized and sexualized the meaning of responsible behavior between teenagers and adults alike that nobody knows what's permissible and what's not. We don't know all the facts of the accusations against Mr. Cain, and the early story lacks vital specifics. If he's telling the truth -- and it sounds like he is -- given his "recollections," we've diverted public attention from more serious issues in an important presidential campaign. These were, after all, accusations that the parties involved thought they had laid to rest more than a decade ago. The early indications are that the accusations are taken more seriously in the newsrooms of Washington than in Iowa, where the citizen caucuses finally will replace the "pundit primary" on Jan. 3.

Gloria Cain, Herman's wife of 43 years, mother of their two grown children and grandmother of three, will sit down with her husband for a rare interview on Fox News on Friday night. Maybe we'll learn if she should have pinched her man.

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