Quote of the Day:
The entire feminist enterprise is undermined if society comes to the conclusion that women bear no responsibility for their choices in the sexual realm.
–Emily Yoffe in “I’m Radioactive” at Reason Online
I remember when journalists aspired to be mavericks before the herd mentality set in even at places like the New York Times.
Emily Yoffe really is a maverick and she tells a story most journalists might ignore: the saga of Jonathan Kaiman whose life was destroyed by MeToo accusations that never even made it to court. Yoffe writes of Kaiman:
He is one of the least famous, least powerful men on the lists published by The New York Times and Bloomberg of those who have lost their jobs in the wake of #MeToo.
Kaiman was accused by two women, each once his friend, of behaving badly during separate casual sexual encounters, four years apart. The result of these accusations—even in the absence of any formal legal proceedings—has been a thoroughgoing destruction of his life.
A former Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, Kaiman now lives in his parents’ basement in Phoenix. Kaiman is unemployable, forgotten by old friends, and afraid to make new ones because they might Google him, a not unrealistic fear since doing so would give one the impression that he is “at best a sexual creep, at worst, well, it’s hard to tell—but something worse.”
This is Yoffe’s description of one of the sexual encounters that ruined Kaiman’s promising career:
The end of Kaiman’s career began January 10, 2018, with a post on Medium by a longtime friend and onetime fellow expat, Laura Tucker, now a law student in the United States. In it, she described a sexual encounter with Kaiman that had taken place five years prior, in March 2013. After an evening out drinking and flirting, Tucker drove Kaiman on her scooter back to her apartment. There, she wrote, they mutually and consensually undressed and got into bed. (Tucker’s account is taken from her Medium post; Kaiman’s accounts of what happened to him are from interviews and various transcripts, including his Los Angeles Times human resources inquiries.)
That the same generally agreed-upon set of facts can result in wildly different interpretations about an event, especially a sexual one, is illustrated by how Tucker and Kaiman described what happened that night. Tucker wrote that while making out in bed with Kaiman, she had a change of heart, so she stood up and said she didn’t want to continue. She wrote, “He lay on the bed, not moving, watching me. I remember that he sort of smiled and seemed to pout.” As they talked and she repeated that she didn’t want to have sex, she wrote, “he began to whine,” which made her feel “like it was too late to back out.”
In Kaiman’s telling, he was startled by Tucker’s sudden U-turn and tried verbally to re-establish their previous playful mood. While they talked, he stayed where he was; he didn’t want to make any physical move toward her. He says that after a brief conversation he concluded the night was coming to an end and that he should leave, so he sat up with the intention of getting dressed.
She described what happened next: “I am still so upset that I concluded the easiest, least confrontational way forward was to place male satisfaction above my own desires and to go back to bed.” The sex made her feel “gross,” she wrote, and Kaiman left immediately afterward. His recollection is that she was a full participant and that he stayed the night. When he went to kiss her goodbye the next morning, he says, he was surprised that she seemed distant and upset.
Why did Tucker go public with this ambigous encounter?
Tucker later wrote that in the wake of the MeToo movement, she wanted to “add my voice to the broader outcry against sexual misconduct.” She also come to the conclusion that the unfortunate episode was completely Kaiman’s fault.
I agree with Yoffe that the MeToo movement was necessary.
But I also agree with her that absolving women of any responsibility in sexual matters undermines women.