So conservatives think they’re calling out feminists on the lack of response to David Letterman’s recent reveal that he has slept with several members of his staff. Where are the protests, the outrage? To that, I have a similar reaction to Tracy at Broadsheet: We simply don’t know enough to do anything.
As far as we know, Letterman’s affairs with staffers were consensual. Workplace canoodling happens all the time, and so are young women frequently drawn to male superiors. Many find power imbalances to be very sexy — and more power (or less, as it were) to ‘em. There is nothing inherently wrong about a sexual relationship between two adults who are at different points in their careers. It would be awfully patronizing to suggest that women aren’t capable of meaningfully consenting to sex with a workplace superior. That isn’t to say I don’t pass personal judgment on Letterman for sleeping with young women who were from the sounds of it at the starts of their careers — oh, judgment abounds, believe me! But is it illegal, is it sexual harassment?
She acknowledges a few potential situations around this story, and if we find this is the case – yes, Letterman will have a sexual harassment suit to deal with. And yes, the power dynamics of sexual relationships at work between superiors and their staff can be fucked up. But it would also be fucked up for us to label these women as powerless victims who didn’t know what they were doing when as far as we know, it was consensual sex. Do I personally think it’s gross? Did Letterman do a really stupid thing? Totally. But that doesn’t mean what Letterman did was illegal. People have sex. And he’s not a politician preaching sexual morality; he’s a late night TV show host. When we see something to get up in arms about – even offenses committed by liberals – we do it. But for now, is this really worthy covering?
What is worthy to post about is the fact that conservatives can act all enraged that feminists aren’t enraged all the while making comments about Letterman’s wife being ugly and equating Letterman’s doings with the rape of a 13-year old – all for the sake of trying to call us bad liberals out. And they’re just replaying the classic conservative view of women – that we’re too stupid or not mature enough to make our own decisions (hello, “informed consent” laws). Now that’s some hypocrisy for you.
UDPATE: Reader fsu points out that Shakes has been covering the story.