Tuesday, December 05, 2017

how deep does the rot go? (an exchange with my brother)

I was bowled over, yesterday, when I learned that conductor James Levine, who heads up the New York Met and is a fixture from my childhood, has become the latest to stand accused of sexual harassment and/or assault. My brother Sean is a professional cellist, so I immediately wrote him to ask how bad this problem is in the music world. Below, I'm publishing both the email I sent Sean and Sean's reply.

[my email to Sean]


The name "James Levine" has been a fixture since my childhood, and it now appears he's the latest to be accused in the current wave of sexual-harassment allegations that are sweeping the country and the world. This would be funny if it weren't horrific.

I just about shat my pants when I saw that headline. James Fucking Levine!

So, a question: it doesn't surprise me at all that this sort of rape-iness has been a part of Hollywood culture since forever (viz. the "casting couch")... but how deep does the rot go in the music world? Is it anything like Hollywood in extremity?

[Sean's reply to me]

Yes, I've heard about this and have heard whispering about him and his disgusting habits for years. I've never actually met the guy personally.

I don't think that this kind of rape-iness is restricted to Hollywood, or the music world, or politics for that matter. I think the rot goes deep in all worlds.

Being a gay man often times means being a confidant to women in a unique sort of way. We're not threatening to women because there's absolutely zero sexual dynamic to our relationships, and we're also not women who may scrutinize or judge. Because of this special status to women, I (and most of my gay male friends) have been told many stories over the years of these experiences of sexual harassment from female friends in all fields. It seems to me that performing arts and politics are highly visible fields when compared to something like accountants, or other typical office-type jobs, which may be why they're getting the most attention right now.

In any event, I'm happy to see this kind of thing come to light, and I'm glad that some of these disgusting predators are getting their long-overdue skewering.

So there you have it. I think it's fair to point out that some fields are more visible/prominent than others, but that the rot extends to all fields. This dovetails with what I wrote earlier regarding how the problem is fundamentally one of maleness and authority (although, as I also mentioned, women are perfectly capable of abusing their authority, too).


John Mac said...

Althouse has an interesting post this morning about allegations against Dustin Hoffman. http://althouse.blogspot.kr/2017/12/on-panel-before-screening-of-wag-dog.html

The thing about these decades old accusations is that there is no presumption of innocence and defending yourself is considered evidence of your guilt.

The interviewer in Hoffman's case, John Oliver, came right out and said it:

"You've given no evidence to show it didn't happen."

We are traveling down a slippery slope indeed.

King Baeksu said...

White-knighting is evidently not just a straight thang:

The “structural oppression” model is false, by the way. Homosexual male harassment is more prevalent than the percent gay men in the population would imply, suggesting that gay men harass men more often than straight men harass women. The obvious explanation for gender differences in harassment has always been that men constitute 80% of sexual harassers for the same reason they constitute 83% of arsonists, 81% of car thieves, and 85% of burglars. Since most men are straight, most victims are women; when the men happen to be gay, they victimize men. Men probably get victimized disproportionately often compared to the straight/gay ratio because society views harassing women as horrible but harassing men as funny. If this theory is right then it’s men who are the structural victims, which means it’s your harassment that doesn’t count and you’re the ones who shouldn’t be allowed to talk about it. The “it only matters if it’s structural” game isn’t so much fun now, is it?


Kevin Kim said...


James Levine's case seems to be consistent with the notion of gay men harassing men. At least three accusers against Levine thus far.