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By Diana Diamond

Just What Is Sexual Harassment Today?

Uploaded: Aug 5, 2021

I don’t know what our society thinks sexual harassment is these days. Our standards seem to change over time, and what was “permissible,” say 20 years ago, is no longer tolerated today.

I suspect the “Me, too” movement had a lot to do with this.

I remember once meeting Nelson Rockefeller, who was at that point running for president of the United States. I was a young, blond, managing editor for an Illinois newspaper and the state Republicans were having a big pre-primary meeting in Waukegan. My local Congressman, Robert McClory, and I were talking and he said he had to go up to a small meeting in Nelson’s room at the hotel, and would I care to join him as a member of the press? Yes, I said, delightedly.

And so Congressman McClory and I went, as well as five other people, to meet with Rockefeller, a former New York state governor and then vice president under Gerald Ford. I took notes at the meeting, asked him two questions, but now can’t remember what was said. As we were leaving the room, we each greeted Nelson, a tall, good-looking, smiling man. When it was my turn, he hugged me saying it was so nice to meet me and my questions were great.

I said thank you. Then we all went to dinner and he was at the head table and he smiled and waved at me. That was followed by an exiting line to shake Nelson’s hand. He shook my hand, put his other arm around my shoulder, and said it was “delightful” seeing me again. In return, I replied something like, “We have to stop meeting this way – three times in two hours.”

I I drove home that night, just happy, and thought that Nelson’s wife, Happy Rockefeller, sure had a good man as her husband. To me, at that time and age, it was an innocent incident. I was on Cloud Nine – well maybe Eight, as I drove home to tell my husband about the event and the hug.

Sexual harassment? Of course not.

Some people are touchers and huggers. I doubt Nixon was a toucher; we know Biden is one. It’s just part of their nature and a way they communicate with people. I have male and female friends who are huggers – and some avoid it just through their body language. Both attitudes are understandable.

About two years ago, at one of the Christmas parties I attended, a longtime Mountain View friend came up to me saying “How are you? It’s so good to see you again. Do I have your permission to hug you?” he quietly queried.

“Of course, why are you even asking?”

Well, he was newly divorced and quite aware of the new mores of asking first.

That was then, this is now, and Andrew Cuomo is learning a lesson – at warp speed. His world is toppling on top of him, as 11 women have legally complained of “unwanted sexual advances” by Cuomo, including in an office environment. “He touched me --- without permission.” “He kissed my cheek!” “He hugged me and didn’t ask if he could.’’

All of his friends, supporters and political pals have left him, insisting he must immediately resign.

Cuomo explains he is Italian, his family hugged and kissed everybody and that’s “just the way we act.” He even showed a number of photos in which he was hugging and cheek kissing men and women. But people don’t seem to understand. Now women are claiming harassment, with thousands of others chiming in saying he must resign, or be impeached from office.

I simply don’t understand this overwhelming outrage at what Cuomo has done.

Our previous president, Donald Trump, had numerous affairs. He lied 150,0000 times while in office, according to the Washington Post. Trump got away with so much filthy locker room talk, terrible comments about people he didn’t like – “She’s ugly,” “he’s weak, “he’s stupid.” And then there are all his financial shenanigans. And many people simply said, “That’s just Trump being Trump.”

Part of this going-after-Cuomo drive is political, of course. But I am not sure the “injured” women are thinking in political terms. They feel women’s bodies are being violated by any man who may touch their shoulder or even their back without asking permission,

It’s like sexual harassment of a woman (or a man) has become the biggest offense a person can commit in this country — subject to an immediate loss of job and reputation.

That’s pretty much what Andrew Cuomo is going though these days. I agree he has crossed the (as yet unidentified) “line” of a proper relationship between a man and woman by touching a breast and probably using sexual innuendoes to women in a work environment. That’s not allowable. But at this point, his acts are misdemeanors, at best. Yet some individuals are searching around to see if he committed a felony. They are after him.

But as my husband said, “I now don’t even know if I should shake hands with a woman. Even a small kiss on a cheek with a long-time friend suddenly seems like potential harassment to a woman.” I think a lot of men are wondering how to act around a woman these days.

Okay, people, we need to draw a line. It cannot be a “do not touch” line, but we also can’t be too touchy.