How Cain is Able to Dismiss Sexism

On Monday, pediatrician Victor Zuckerman from Chicago says he is the former boyfriend of Sharon Bialek who accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment, and he confirmed on Monday that she shared the details of the 1997 incident with him after it happened. There have been four women who have come forth with claims of sexual harassment by the Republican presidential candidate. Amidst his denials and spin machine tactics, depending on whom you believe his popularity may be slipping as a result of the Cain we are seeing these days.

The claims of sexual harassment are enough to question whether he warrants the nomination of his party—or any party for that matter. But when you combine his apology last week for calling Nancy Pelosi (D-California) the former speaker of the house “Princess Nancy” and his defense of his unfunny joke about Anita Hill voting for him, it is obvious that Mr. Cain needs to reacquaint himself with the history of gender equality in the country he hopes to lead. It was 20 years ago that Anita Hill made a courageous and lonely stand against sexual harassment in the workplace—it hardly deserves to be laughed at.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission describes sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the of
offensive conduct.
Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.

The official or legal definition does not include the abusive power that sexual harassment has over women or in some cases men and boys. The true indignity is the number of those who accept unwelcomed advances because it is easier to simply walk away rather than contest or go public with their complaints.

A recent CBS News poll, says that Cain has the support of 15 percent of women Republican primary voters, and that number is down from 28 percent in just a month. 

The excerpt below from Anita Hill’s book “Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender Race and Finding Home” says it far more eloquently than I ever could.

“I plan to examine home as a place and a state of being by interweaving discussions of law, literature, and culture with stories of individuals, focusing on women, and African Americans, in search of equality. These stories reflect each woman’s experience in finding and shaping a home where she could achieve some measure of equality for herself and her family…………With all women and black men, they face limited employment and educational opportunities, as well as underrepresentation in political arenas. We have passed many laws to try to address these inequities, to level the playing field, and yet we have not finished the work. They struggle, as millions do, to find home in America.”
I doubt Herman Cain considered that his reference to Anita Hill would garner so much media attention. I can only hope that the heightened attention will help to advance the public’s understanding of gender and racial inequality in this country. So maybe Mr. Cain is able to dismiss sexism because he doesn’t understand that gender equality is no laughing matter.
Beverly Isom


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