All across America, there are young women attempting to advance at work by being just as smart, just as prepared, and just as diligent as their male counterparts. But if the senior (most often male) employees they need to impress are hyper-sensitive about the reputational damage that can result from spending time with them, female workers going to be deprived of opportunities they need to showcase their talent. Young female associates at law firms aren’t going to have the chance to work with older, married male partners conducting important trials away from home – too risky to be staying in a hotel with a woman for that long. Junior businesswomen of all stripes may be deprived of their turns at closing deals with male senior executives, lest doing so elicit whispers. And the list goes on.
When Anita Hill launched her still-unproven assault on Clarence Thomas’ character seventeen years ago, men all over America discovered that their reputations could be threatened by a simple accusation from a woman, offered without even a scintilla of evidence (in fact, Justice Thomas’ character was trashed despite evidence that he had actually helped and mentored Hill). Now, it seems that their fidelity to their wives can be publicly questioned for nothing more than spending time in the company of an attractive, young professional woman.
Given the double standards of liberal feminists – who were willing to condemn Justice Thomas without evidence, yet refused to chastise President Bill Clinton for behavior that was both proven and infinitely worse – it’s unlikely that they’ll speak up in defense of a Republican like John McCain. But the next time that they deplore the existence of a “glass ceiling” in the workplace, they might want to consider the impact on young, professional women of the kind of unsubstantiated rumor-mongering so gleefully undertaken by The New York Times last week.