How to React to a Sexual Harassment Charge: A Ready Reckoner


How to React to a Sexual Harassment Charge: A Ready Reckoner

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you’d have figured out by now that the “locker room” is under siege. A flood of sexual harassment allegations have come tumbling out of the closet in recent weeks, with all kinds of powerful men being outed for their abusive behaviour. Whether it’s Dustin Hoffman or Kevin Spacey, each has reacted differently and this has given us a chance to create a ready reckoner of douchebros reacting to allegations.

The Red-handed Role Reversal

This one’s for the harassers who first try their best to clear their name, but are faced with so many allegations that there’s no dodging them. Harvey Weinstein is the poster boy of this club. In this case, your best option is to find a great PR rep (preferably someone who doesn’t mind permanently tainting their career) and issue what looks like a sincere apology. Acknowledge you have a problem, so that you can tuck yourself away in a cushy rehab centre away from the media glare and wait for the noise to die down. Always remember, a scandal is temporary, a multi-million-dollar net worth is for life.

Going Ghajini

Sometimes you can have a long career of harassment that includes decades of copping feels and scoring chicks, only for it to inconveniently catch up with you later. If you’re among these ranks of senior sexual harassers, feel free to pull a Dustin Hoffman. This is a good way to leverage age in your favour, as no one expects an 80-year-old to accurately remember every intern they groped. Now the burden of proof lies with your accuser, and you can get away lightly by offering a half-hearted, hypothetical apology for an assault that may or may not have happened.

The deck is still growing though, as new reports add more players to the table

The “Coming Out” Card

Never forget, we’re living in easily triggered times. The only thing the news-reading public loves more than a juicy scandal, is a juicy piece of virtue signalling. Flipping the script of a sexual-harassment narrative is an art, of which Kevin Spacey is the undisputed champion. Just like President Underwood hoodwinked the public by coming out as gay hours after reports of him abusing a 14-year-old actor in the ’80s began to circulate, you too can use smoke and mirrors to cover up your indiscretions. Refugees, global warming, and terrorism – these are all sexy, headline-grabbing topics you can use in your obfuscation.

Smile & Wave, Boys, Smile & Wave

Though each of the above responses is tactful, none could be called entirely honest. Managing to give an unfiltered IDGAF response to allegations of harassment is something that can be learned from US President Donald Trump. However, callous this approach might seem, at least it doesn’t conceal your thinking. Brush it off as “locker-room talk” and accuse your accusers of overreacting. This serves as a rallying cry for like-minded individuals, and you can ride the wave of support all the way to the White House.

These are the cards you can play in the face of any allegations that might expose you for being a predatory creep. The deck is still growing though, as new reports add more players to the table. Does anyone want to guess how many cards we’ll be left holding by the time everyone folds?