Opinion

Real Men and Real Women

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Posted: Feb 04, 2018 12:01 AM
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Real Men and Real Women

Nine women accuse Vincent Cirrincione of sexually harassing them over a nearly 20-year period. 

Who is Cirrincione? He’s a Hollywood agent, known for launching Oscar-winning Halle Berry’s career and having also managed a number of other successful black actresses.

“Three of the women say he pushed for sex as a condition for representing them, and that he did not take them on when they refused,” the Washington Post reported on Friday. “A fourth said he offered to help advance her career if she agreed to have sex with him monthly. A fifth actress said he masturbated in front of her in his office during the years he managed her.”

My goodness, I suppose the latter accusation, if believed, is the ultimate proof that some men really do not know what women want.

The women also told the Post “they viewed Cirrincione, who is white, as an important gatekeeper for black actresses in an industry notoriously difficult to break into — one whose path is even more narrow for minorities. They said he took advantage of that dynamic to prey upon young women of color seeking an entry into Hollywood.”

As the newspaper also noted, “Cirrincione said in a statement that he accepts responsibility for pursuing sexual relationships but denies allegations that he sought sexual favors in exchange for representing actresses.”

No word yet on the masturbation.

Unlike the Washington Post editorial page, which believes “common sense and decency” demand believing the women (at least if they are accusing Republicans), in all of these cases, we should first acknowledge what we do not know. We do not know precisely — or often at all — what actually happened. Other than what he said and she said — and often not even fully that, because an accuser is unnamed or the accused declines to answer questions. 

Still, we can and should assess what we see, hear and read even as we do not possess all the evidence and the accused continues to deserve some presumption of innocence. For instance, let’s consider the statement the accused Vincent Cirrincione gave the Washington Post. 

"We live in a time where men are being confronted with a very real opportunity to take responsibility for their actions,” he told the paper. “I support this movement wholeheartedly.”

Real men have always taken responsibility for their actions. So have real women. It isn’t new.

And I admit to a smidgen of doubt over his use of the word “wholeheartedly.”

“I have had female clients and employees my entire career in this industry,” he explained. “I have built a reputation for advancing the careers of women of color.”

He advanced women’s careers, including “women of color.” Where is his progressive participation trophy? 

Did he work with women as some sort of magnanimous favor to the fairer sex or because women are good at what they do and profitable to partner with? 

Or more basely . . . because he is a creep?

“I have had affairs while in committed relationships, ones I am now ashamed to say are coming to light and shading my past and my reputation,” Cirrincione confessed. 

Do you notice he expresses shame not for cheating, but for it “coming to light”? This was a written statement, not a question he was caught off guard by.

“I can say without a doubt that I have never used favors, sexual or otherwise, as a reason for managing anyone,” he added. “I want to make it clear that not one of those relationships were anything but consensual.”

Ah, consent. Cirrincione is correct that these incidents do not appear to be rape. No sir. Instead, they really seem more like solicitation of prostitution, bartering for sex. The accused sort of denies that, too, though not very clearly or emphatically. 

“I take responsibility for my part in the situation and I am not here to diminish anyone’s feelings or experiences,” he stated. “I apologize to these women, my past and present partner, my clients and employees for the pain this is bringing them.”

The “situation”? Did Hillary Clinton’s people help draft this statement?

Moreover, Cirrincione either used his position to trade his help for sex, as the women allege, or he did not. He is obviously a wonderful progressive, not wanting to “diminish anyone’s feelings” and all, but these women’s feelings are that they experienced a coercive and debasing sexual environment at his hands, though not physical coercion. More simply: Why would a man who is wrongly accused apologize?

“I was under the impression I was living my life as a supportive man to women. It is with a heavy heart that I see now I was wrong,” the statement concluded.

I take the accused, Vincent Cirrincione, at his word: He was wrong

Still is.