Andrew Cuomo hoist by his own petard
I applaud Andrew Cuomo for resigning as Governor of NewYork. The governance and the work of the state needed to be the highest priority, and his resignation was the better thing to do.
With regard to the allegations of sexual harassment, as a governor and holder of a powerful office, fairness in adjudicating each accusation is paramount.
Naturally, young women can be impressed with men in powerful positions. It takes a special understanding and a level of detachment for a man to realise how he compromises the integrity of a woman when men in positions of authority have some power over them — with their jobs and the possibility of upward mobility. They need to understand in a real way that seeming compliant is not consent.
Just as easily as Cuomo could say he was just being friendly, which might in fact have been the case, a woman’s sense of being violated is just as real. She may feel that she needs to be compliant to keep her job. Judgment must recognise the two possibilities, as opposite as they are, with a reasoned assessment of intent.
Social norms cannot be switched on or off at the passing of a law or policy. Human behaviours evolve over time. Sexual attitudes between male and female are totally different; in many ways these opposite sensibilities are hard-wired into behaviours of both species.
In today’s world there is a greater demand on men to push back on their natural impulses and behaviours to accommodate a broader sharing of the marketplace to accommodate both sexes. New codes of conduct have been created and adopted, which focus on areas of sexual harassment. The world is yet to produce a perfect society and, with the best of intents, is not filled with perfect humans, either.
As to the unlawfulness of his actions with the 11 accusers, the courts will or should be the avenue to have a full hearing of both sides and there should be no presumption of guilt or innocence until a proper trial has been performed.
Based on how the response to impeachment evolved, we are left no room to embrace any opinion other than guilty as charged. Making the argument that it was 11 persons has led to the presumption that if numbers of people make the same accusation then it must be true. However, when we have a lawful structure based on the presumption of innocence, an accusation is just an accusation until proven guilty. Something may appear as a solid wall until we fully examine the parts.
After listening to the Attorney-General's report and the rebuttal provided by Cuomo's lawyer and having heard also the details from the most egregious of accusers — themselves appearing live on television to give their accounts — I walk away thinking he made some miscalculations and mistakes that he should learn from. But the level of his actions were no more than misdemeanours that can rise to the level of sexual harassment only because of his high position as Governor.
With the worst case, he appears as self-deluded into believing he had some connection and operated on that assumption, even though delusional. I accept that's how it looks to me but I am a male and my sensibilities are guided by my maleness.
There are consequences for the environment created when levels of immaturity on the subject of sexual harassment exist in the workplace. Andrew Cuomo shepherded legislation that raised the bar and he may in fact succumb to the very standard he created.