Something to be Thankful for: Ripping Off the Band Aid of a Sexual Harassment Counterculture

ALPERN AT LARGE--Forever we'll debate the differences and similarities of men and women, and forever we'll debate whether treating women differently than men is empowering or demeaning to either gender.  But at least we're on our way as a society to one common conclusion: that treating other human beings like chattel or sexual objects is in no way acceptable or appropriate in a civilized society. 

One can despise President Trump's past comments (and potential actions) to women, and yet support his administration's emphasis on combating human trafficking

One can support (or not) the women's marches against President Trump, but whether one supports or opposes the "Nasty Woman" speech of Ashley Judd, her denunciation of Harvey Weinstein and (with Rose McGowan, who perhaps should be Time's Person of the Year for 2017) leading an explosive domino effect against sexual harassment is now applauded by all

One can support (or not) President Bill Clinton's past presidency, but--as with "America's Dad, Bill Cosby", the era of "letting boys be boys" is over

One can support or oppose Minnesota Senator Al Franken, or one can support or oppose the senatorial candidacy of Roy Moore (if one stays, by the way, expect the other to be emboldened to stick around), but the era of society being okay with taking advantage of sleeping women, forcing oneself on another person, or dating vastly underaged/minor women (or even men) is over

One can support (or not) the contention that Hillary Clinton should have been elected president, but still wonder whether she did something horrible by enabling her husband's predatory behavior, or wonder whether she did something horrible by destroying the women who dared accuse him of harassment or even rape.  The era of "standing by your man no matter what" is over

One can despise (or support) conservative media icons (the late Roger Ailes, or the fired Bill O'Reilly), or one can despise (or support) liberal media icons (Charlie Rose or Glenn Thrush), but the era of power enabling men (or women, for that matter) to "do what they want" with women (or even men, for that matter) who work for you is over.     

One can wonder if Corey Feldman and others are justified in calling for money and the freedom to create movies about the youth sexual abuse subculture in Hollywood, but the era of allowing that sort of statutory rape and intimidation to be the status quo is over

Maybe the casting couch was never funny, and maybe to some it was funny...but it's NO laughing matter anymore.  Maybe a new chaperoning rule will be in effect now, either in Big Hollywood or Big Media or Big Politics, but the era of disregard of the rights of the employees, and the acceptance of betrayal of those who put their trust and hope in the hands of the powerful, is over

And while the need to be presumed innocent until proven guilty is as essential as ever, the era of allowing the powerful to rob others of their innocence against their will is over

If a man or woman teaches others, employs others, leads others, commands others, or controls the lives and/or careers of others, then those specific others are off-limits.  

As a physician, I learned early on in medical school that if you were "hitting it off" with a patient, then that person was to be "off-limits" and that potential relationship was to be terminated, because it had NO future.  Period.  End of Story.  Too damn bad if that was your "soul-mate"... find another person who was NOT your patient, because all such relationships invariably led to ruin. 

Ditto with the other professions that have "pecking orders" like the military, the workplace, and the classroom.  Find your "play-thing" or "soul mate" somewhere else...and if you REALLY have the hots for someone then separate your professional lives for a long time and see if it was meant to be (probably not, but if it's for real then it can wait a year or five). 

And, of course, if one is truly drawn to love another who works for him/her, then perhaps it's best to pray for that employee to find true love and happiness with someone ELSE...and subjugate one's own personal desires to the desire to wish that beloved person the joy that was never meant to be shared by his/her superior. 

Character and restraint still count, and feelings and mutual respect still count, and honor and dignity still count, and role models still count, after decades of one sexual revolution after another in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.   

Maybe it was the example of former President Barack Obama, and maybe it was the examples of President Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, that kickstarted this movement to "rip the bandaid" off the sexual harassment countercultures in our nation, but that bandaid is now off

And on this Thanksgiving, with our divided nation more split politically and spiritually than ever, perhaps we can rejoice that on this one issue we now remain more united than ever.


(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud father and husband to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)