JUST DATING NEWS!
The Shakespeare-Shrek Guide to Online Dating
Scientific revelations about matchmaking are no surprise to anyone who knows the oeuvres of the Bard and Mike Myers.
Science has done much to deepen the beauty and wonder of everything from stars to thunderstorms, whales to honeybees, but something strange and ugly happens when scientists stick their curious noses into the world of human mating.
While Shakespeare and other artists show us lovers who must win their suitors by proving their courage, character and intelligence, scientists tell us we’re in a “market model” of mating, in which our value is based on little beyond youth, looks and, for men, money. A new study on internet dating insists we’re all looking for the best deal we can get, and that women max out in value at 18, men at 50. Science has reduced the human mating dance to something no more romantic than shopping for a dishwasher.
Here it’s good to remember that science sees only part of the picture. Joyce Carol Oates wrote that love is two things: bodies and words. Science has focused on just the bodies, but that’s only because the bodies are the easier part of the equation to study.
In the new paper, published in Science Advances, for example, researchers had access to data from hundreds of thousands of people on an unnamed dating site, but all the researchers knew were basic demographic facts, such as age, as well as how many messages the subjects got in response to their profiles, and how many fellow internet daters responded back. They also had access to the number of words exchanged, but not the actual words.
The researchers defined “desirability” by the number of messages people received, factoring in the desirability of those sending the messages. It’s a working definition; the word “popularity” might be more fitting. What they found was that people tended to contact users who were about 25 percent more popular than they were.
The news media spun this in opposing directions. Some outlets warned people that they were aiming out of their league. Others advised people that the best strategy was to aim out of their league. University of Michigan physics professor Mark Newman, one of the co-authors of the study, said they really didn’t get enough information to know what strategy works best.
First of all, they don’t know who is looking for a hookup, and who is looking for a long-term relationship, and which users were finding what they sought. All they know is that when people messaged potential partners who were much more popular than they were, they got replies from about 20 percent. That might be good or bad, depending on what you’re after. People tended to write longer messages to those who were farthest above them in the popularity scale.
The most depressing part of the study was the finding that women’s popularity went downhill after age 18 — the youngest that was allowed on the site — while men appeared to have a much longer shelf life. But the number of messages received may or may not have much to do with success on the site, whether in hookups or lasting love.
A guy who admits he wants a one-night stand during a business trip might not get many replies, but if he gets even one taker for that offer, he may feel he’s getting more than his money’s worth from the service. Maybe he was in town for only one night anyway!
And too much popularity can create a time inefficiency problem. The record, the researchers said, went to a 30-year-old New York woman, who received 1,500 messages within days of putting up a profile. Whether she’s looking for a long-term partner or a date every night of the week doesn’t matter. She might not have time for any dates unless she hires a staff to sort through all the messages.
The conclusions weren’t that different from those of a study on speed dating that I wrote about in 2005. Speed dating involves a face-to-face interaction, usually taking place in a pub, with a group of men and women allowed to have a three- to five-minute conversation with each of about 25 potential suitors.
The psychologists who designed that study said they were trying to test two possible models of human mating behavior. In one, called the matching hypothesis, like is attracted to like. I thought of the movie “Shrek,” in which the title character, who is big green ogre, is thrilled when the beautiful princess turns into a green ogress. And in fact one of the researchers referred to it as “the Disney model” of dating.
The other approach is called the market model, in which everyone asks for a second meeting with the prettiest people but, ultimately, everyone has to settle for the prettiest they can get.
Of course, speed dating is not a microcosm of real life. The subjects are deciding based on very brief interaction whether they want to talk again. Looks played an outsize role, but other factors could be important in deciding who would get a second or third date. This “first-pass filter” is important for understanding the internet dating study as well. In that case, the researchers don’t even know which messages are likely to lead to a meeting or even a phone conversation.
University of Texas evolutionary psychologist David Buss said that the aspirational part isn’t surprising — people tend to want the best mates they think they can get, and also tend to overestimate their own attractiveness. But he said it’s absolutely critical for people to be well-matched in intelligence.
Shakespeare knew it all along. His plays are full of peasants and clowns who think they are much more appealing than they are. In “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Nick Bottom is easy to convince he’s quite the hot commodity, even with a donkey’s head. In contrast, many of the lead characters are endowed with a piece of the Bard’s own monumental verbal intelligence and insight. Those gifted young people face a special challenge: They have fewer options than the average people when it comes to finding an intellectual match.
In “As You Like It,” the male lead Orlando knows he’s a good match for Rosalind, but he also knows he will never impress her without a little effort. Because he’s awkward, he has to write poems to prove he’s one of the gifted kids too. And we, the audience, know his long-term happiness depends on his overcoming his personal obstacles.
Science tells us something insightful about the average person. The average person may indeed suffer from horrible self-assessment. But it’s the characters with the ability to understand their flaws and grow who give life to drama and literature. They aren’t the average, but we already knew that. Their lives are destined to be more interesting, regardless of how many messages they receive on a dating site.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Philip Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s 2018, So Why Are People Still Lying About Meeting Online?
If you haven’t watched “Nanette,” Hannah Gadsby’s fearless comedy special on Netflix, do that now. (We’ll wait.)
In it, Ms. Gadsby takes on the fragility of masculinity — and at one point drills into Pablo Picasso, who, well into his 40s, had an affair with a teenage girl.
Ms. Gadsby, who has a degree in art history, recounted how Picasso justified the relationship by claiming that he and the girl, Marie-Thérèse Walter, were both in their prime. Seething, Ms. Gadsby said: “A 17-year-old girl is never in her prime. Ever! I am in my prime.” She is 40.
That anecdote came to mind recently, in response to a new study about online dating published in the journal Science Advances.
In it, researchers studied the “desirability” of male and female users, based on how many messages nearly 200,000 users, all of whom were seeking opposite-sex partners, got over one month on a “popular, free online-dating service” — and if those sending the messages were desirable based on the same criteria.
The researchers determined that while men’s sexual desirability peaks at age 50, women’s starts high at 18 and falls from there.
“The age gradient for women definitely surprised us — both in terms of the fact that it steadily declined from the time women were 18 to the time they were 65, and also how steep it was,” said Elizabeth Bruch, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Michigan and an author of the study.
This study isn’t an anomaly.
The study results echoed data shared by the dating behemoth OkCupid in 2010, in which the service found that men from the ages of 22 to 30 focus almost entirely on women who are younger than them.
“The median 30-year-old man spends as much time messaging teenage girls as he does women his own age,” OkCupid wrote in a blog post at the time.
OkCupid also reported that as a man gets older, he searches for relatively younger and younger women, while his upper acceptable age limit hovers just above his own age.
“The male fixation on youth distorts the dating pool,” OkCupid concluded.
Caveman mentality persists.
Michelle Drouin, a developmental psychologist who focuses on technology and relationships, was not surprised by the new study — in part because they “align with evolutionary theories of mating” in which youth suggests fertility, she said.
Dr. Drouin pointed out, though, that there are also theories that suggest that “men are just less interested in earning potential or power, and more interested in physical attractiveness.”
Women want brains. Men care less.
Speaking of earning potential, Dr. Bruch also found that a man’s desirability increased the more education he attained.
Women now outnumber men in college and earn more degrees, Dr. Bruch said, adding: “Preferences coupled with the availability of partners may drive the patterns we see in our paper.”
Dr. Drouin said that educational dynamic might also be related to “beliefs that higher degrees among women translate into more work commitment and less relationship and family commitment.”
People aim high (probably too high).
Dr. Drouin stressed that the preferences of people seeking mates online reflect aspiration, not necessarily what people want in real life. A key finding of the study was that most users sent messages to people who were more desirable than themselves. Twenty-five percent more desirable, to be exact.
This data represents “the reality of dating preferences” — in other words, dating out of your league, Dr. Drouin said. That is often not the reality of dating.
“These messages sent by online daters can be likened to slot machine play in Vegas,” she said. “Little investment on the front end might pay out big on the back end — so why not opt for a chance at the biggest win?”
But then again, the internet can’t read chemistry.
“In the real world, the woman with a graduate degree who knows your favorite Kerouac passage, speaks a few languages or discovers new ways to cure disease might be undeniably attractive,” she said. “Think of Amal Clooney.”
The Connecticut man accused of murdering a Queens woman and raping another in Brooklyn — using dating apps as a way to meet his victims — has a history of violent crimes against women, several police agencies have told the Post.
Danueal Drayton, 27, was busted on Tuesday at a California hotel for allegedly murdering Queens nurse Samantha Stewart in her home near Kennedy airport on July 17. When members of the NYPD Regional Fugitive Task Force knocked on his door, they found another woman being held captive inside, police sources said.
“[If] you look at his history, he has ties to Brooklyn, but he has a lot of connections out of New York City,” said NYPD’s Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea during a Friday media availability.
“He has an arrest record in Connecticut. He has an arrest record in Nassau County.”
“I start to see themes of assaults on women, I see strangulation, I see an unlawful imprisonment — I see things that I don’t like,” he continued.
The New Haven man reportedly strangled his ex-girlfriend on June 13th after they began arguing inside her car in Inwood Park in Nassau County– and later admitted to doing so.
Just 15 minutes later, he broke into her home, but was stopped by her brother who was inside, according to Nassau County court documents.
He is being charged in Nassau County with strangulation, aggravated harassment, criminal trespass and criminal mischief, but was released on his own recognizance, a district attorney’s office spokesman said.
“Mr. Drayton did not have a prior criminal record and had not been indicted,” said a Nassau County Court spokesman in an emailed statement. “It would have been impossible for the Judge at that time to foresee the allegations that are presently unfolding and coming to light with regard to this defendant.”
But on July 17, Stewart’s brothers discovered their slain sister after they went to her house following several failed attempts to reach her.
“I ran in the house,” 17-year-old Keniel Stewart said shortly after finding his sister. “I took a glimpse of her and went back outside. That’s not how I wanted to remember her, so I didn’t want to see her.”
Only hours later, Drayton met with a woman near Third Avenue and 14th Street in Brooklyn, after the pair had connected on Tinder, police sources said.
He took the woman to a nearby office space on Second Avenue, where he allegedly choked her until she passed out and raped her, sources said.
“I don’t want to go too deep, but this is…an innocent woman, that uses a website to meet someone,” Shea said, adding that Drayton’s use of dating websites and apps allowed investigators to track him electronically. “From an investigative point of view, [there is] a beautiful electronic footprint that is left that is very easy to exploit.”
Drayton then made his way to Los Angeles, where he is accused of the forcible rape and premeditated attempted murder of a different woman, according to the Los Angeles district attorney’s office.
Around July 22, he held the woman against her will — forcibly raping her, then sexually assaulting her with an unknown object.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the woman was discovered, or in what condition she was following the incident.
Drayton was charged with forcible rape and false imprisonment by violence and sexual penetration by foreign object, court records show. He is also being charged for premeditated attempted murder for the encounter, which lasted into July 23.
The next day, Drayton was tracked to the North Hollywood hotel room, where “[t]here [was] in fact a woman in that room that we are told was being held in that room against her will,” Shea said.
Drayton is in LAPD custody pending extradition to New York, where Shea said authorities are ready to prosecute Drayton on both the Brooklyn rape and the Queens murder.
Detectives believe Drayton hunted for women using dating websites, Shea said, noting that police have already linked him to the use of two different dating sites.
“My guess is the possibility that there will be more than maybe more than one or two dating websites,” Shea said. “I believe that there will be more victims discovered.”
Additional reporting by Lorena Mongelli
CrayRate.com Promises to Take the “Game” Out of Dating With its 100% FREE Online Date Rating Social Website Event.
San Francisco, California— The highly addictive and entertaining social website’s (https://www.crayrate.com/) CEO Connie O’Grady announced the company’s FREE event. CrayRate.com’s 24-hour date rating service is offering online daters throughout the dating biosphere the ability to review their next online date before they meet – for FREE. Like “Yelp” for online dates, CrayRate is designed to separate real “contenders” from online “pretenders” before meeting. And promises to forever change the online dating “game.”
With as little as a dating site username, Tipsters can start trading dating stories for FREE access. Similar to Yelp, CrayRate relies on reviews (called Tipster Profiles). Anonymously, CrayRate’s members post Tipster Profiles using only their Date’s dating site username. The Tipster Profiles include; Date’s Star Rating, written reviews, photos, mugshots, text messages and more. And just for sharing hilarious and disastrous stories members can earn FREE access to search their next online date’s “rate” or just see how their dates rated them. It’s that super simple!
CrayRate members can check a potential online date’s “CrayRate” (date rating) before they meet their date. A simple dating site username search, CrayRate members get the full scoop on their date. All is revealed via a 5 star rating system that extends from Low Risk Normal Cray Date to Severely Cray Cray! So no more super-sleuthing for a first and last name to conduct a background check on a potential date (which is almost impossible, anyway) CrayRate and its community members have your back –with CrayRate the “Dating Games” are over and it’s super-fun!
CEO O’Grady, “Yes, we’re a little bit like Yelp, but for online dates. You can also say we’re kind of like a neighborhood watch group: watching over your entire ‘Datinghood.’ But no, please don’t say we are like old school Lulu! We are not a male bashing site. CrayRate.com is for both women and men and can be used with any dating sites and all dating apps,” O’Grady added.
Make no mistake, CrayRate is definitely not a revenge site, nor a forum for tipster members to exercise their own secret crazy. The website points out: We simply want to help our members gravitate toward Great Dates and navigate the murky waters of internet Catfishing and dangerous stalker Dates.
O’Grady developed the idea after experiencing her own traumatic online dating incident, and this compelled her to survey both men and women who welcomed a site like CrayRate, as there is nothing similar out there at present.
“We allow members to vent and tell their dating stories, which is very therapeutic, and know that they are helping others,” O’Grady stated. “People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. And if given a secure forum, people will post anonymous and truthful profiles and reviews to help protect their dating community. We call our members Superheroes, because they anonymously protect our “Datinghood”. And like all Superheroes, our members’ super-secret identity is always safe with us. We will never reveal our members’ true identity.”
CrayRate is a community, a fun place to commune and commute, and a place for members to gather and post stories about their dates. The company doesn’t believe every date is bad or dangerous, but does think there is a story to share about every date, especially since it’s also true that one dater’s trash is another dater’s treasure. It also believes in chemistry, kismet unicorns and the magical powers of CrayRate before you meet and greet a date!
For more information about CrayRate.com and becoming a free member please visit the website online. CEO/Founder Connie O’Grady is available for questions, media interviews and can also be contacted as noted herein below.
CEO of CrayRate.com
“The Yelp for Online Dates!”
Dine-and-Dash Dater Scams More Women in L.A.
Remember the dashing Don Juan from Los Angeles who scams unsuspecting women by inviting them on dates, eating lots of food and then skipping out on the bill? The cad is known to police and the media as the “Dine-and-Dash Dater,” as he has struck numerous times in the past. PJ Media covered the cunning Casanova’s capers a little over a year ago, and he’s apparently still at it.
The 45-year-old goes by various names, including “Mike,” “Dave,” and “Paul Gonzales,” and uses dating apps to attract the women. He sets up dates at expensive restaurants where he woos the damsels, eats his fill, makes an excuse to leave the table, and then doesn’t come back.
This week, he struck again at a restaurant in Pasadena, CBS Los Angeles reported.
“Of course I’m not happy that this happened to me,” said the woman who didn’t want to be identified. “I was like — wow! This is crazy!” She added that “he’s a very, very handsome man. His eyes are absolutely gorgeous.”
The woman told CBS that Gonzales had already ordered fish tacos before she arrived for their date at the restaurant. After they ordered from the menu, she said he excused himself to go use the restroom. That’s when two customers who recognized him from the news pulled restaurant manager Justin Leyvas aside and told him the Dine-and-Dash Dater was in the house.
When Gonzales came out of the restroom, Leyvas asked to speak to him outside.
“And so I just confronted him, I just said, ‘listen, is this you?'” Leyvas recounted. “I showed him a picture on my phone. And he said, ‘yeah, that’s me.’ I said, well, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
So Gonzales left, leaving his date alone at the table wondering what the heck just happened.
The woman said when she found out she’d just had a close encounter with the infamous Dine-and-Dash Dater, she was angry.
“Because … there are so many men who prey on innocent women like me who are truly looking for love,” she explained.
Gonzales apparently doesn’t like to pay for haircuts, either. He committed what police called a “snip and ditch” at a Burbank hair salon when he got up and left with his smock still on after getting a cut and color a couple of years ago.
Records show that the petty criminal has been to jail several times on misdemeanor charges.
Bill Cosby accuser and former Playboy model Victoria Valentino says she hopes the disgraced comedian ‘gets raped in prison’
A Bill Cosby accuser believes the actor should endure the same treatment that he inflicted on his victims while in prison.
Former Playboy model Victoria Valentino was asked what she thinks Cosby should get when he gets sentenced, when she made the comment.
Valentino went on to say that she believes Cosby will probably get sentenced to 10 years in prison because of his age, but more thank likely will get time off for good behavior.
‘It’s time for him to suffer the consequences of his own actions, regardless of his age. Because we have all suffered the consequences of his actions for decades,’ she told TMZ.
‘This man has probably been the most prolific serial rapist of the 20th century. He’s been going at it for 50 years,’ said in the interview.
A mistrial was declared in Cosby’s first trial in June 2017 for the aggravated indecent assault of 44-year-old Andrea Constand.
Constand, the former director of operations for the women’s basketball team of Philadelphia’s Temple University, of which Cosby was a notable trustee, had said that Cosby – a man whom she regarded as her friend and mentor – drugged and sexually assaulted her in his home in the Philadelphia suburbs in 2004.
Cosby was arraigned in 2015 and released on a $1million bail.
Accused of offering Constand three blue pills of dubious provenance that rendered her unconscious before he digitally penetrated her and sexually assaulted her without her consent, Cosby’s best case scenario and defense first time round was that he was a philandering husband, pathologically unfaithful to wife of five decades Camilla.
He was, by his own admission, a man who stockpiled Quaaludes to give to young women with whom he was interested in having sex.
The jury from Cosby’s first trial deliberated for 53 hours, but they were unable to come to a unanimous decision on whether or not Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted Constand.
Judge Steven O’Neill was then forced to pronounce a mistrial to a shell-shocked court.
But last week, Valentino was overcome with emotion after the jury brought back a guilty verdict in the case.
Valentino was seen hugging other victims outside the courtroom after Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
Bill Cosby Guilty of Sexual Assault, Lashes Out in Courtroom
1:15 PM PT — Cosby’s been ordered to remain in his home until sentencing.
11:18 AM PT — Multiple people in the courtroom claim Cosby lashed out after prosecutors asked he be taken into custody immediately because he owns a private plane and could flee. Cosby shouted, “He doesn’t have a private plane, you a**hole!”
Cosby was released on a $1 million bail.
Bill Cosby‘s retrial for sexual assault has just ended, and the jury found the once legendary TV dad guilty on all 3 counts of aggravated indecent assault.
The jury of 7 men and 5 women deliberated a full day before reaching their verdict and finding Cosby guilty of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004 at his home.
The 80-year-old faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for each charge.
The verdict comes after the jurors spent 13 days in the courtroom hearing lawyers’ arguments and testimony from witnesses, including Constand and 5 other women who claim they were also drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby.
That wasn’t enough, though, because on Wednesday the jurors asked for the legal definition of consent. The judge said Pennsylvania law did not provide a definition … it was essentially left up to the sensibility of jurors.
Cosby’s attorneys attacked Constand by portraying her as a liar who tried to frame him to make money … while prosecutors called out the attack as the reason sex crime victims are afraid to come forward.
Prosecutor Kristen Feden also blasted Cosby for smirking while she talked about his accusers, saying … “He’s laughing like it’s funny, but there’s absolutely nothing funny about them being stripped of their capacity to consent.”
HLN Host Ashleigh Banfield Slams Aziz Ansari Accuser: “You Have Chipped Away at a Movement”
HLN host Ashleigh Banfield called out the woman who accused Aziz Ansari of sexual misconduct in a story posted on Babe.net on Sunday.
Banfield, speaking on her HLN program Crime & Justice, addressed “Grace” — the pseudonym used by the woman who claimed Ansari “violated” her — by saying, “I’m sorry you had a bad date … But let’s take a moment to reflect on what you claim was the ‘worst night of your life.’ “
Banfield went on to say to Grace that when the date got “overly amorous” and she began “protesting [Ansari's] moves,” that she “did not get up and leave” and “continued to engage in the sexual encounter.”
— Crime & Justice (@CrimeJusticeHLN) January 16, 2018
In the Babe.net post, Grace claimed that the incident with Ansari “was 30 minutes of me getting up and moving and him following and sticking his fingers down my throat again” and that she “was physically giving off cues that I wasn’t interested.” Grace also claimed that she texted Ansari the next day and that he apologized and “misread things.” The Master of None star also responded to her claims in a statement on Sunday, saying he “took her words to heart.”
Banfield continued to criticize Grace’s claims, saying that “by your own clear description, this wasn’t a rape, nor was it sexual assault. Your sexual encounter was unpleasant at best.” The host then claimed that Grace had “chiseled away at a movement that I, along with all my sisters in the workplace, have been dreaming of for decades. A movement that has finally changed an over-sexed professional environment that I, too, have struggled through at times over the past 30 years.”
“The #MeToo movement has righted many wrongs and it has made your career path much smoother … what a gift. Yet, you looked that gift horse in the mouth and chiseled away at that powerful movement with your public accusation,” Banfield continued.
Banfield ended her segment by saying Ansari does not deserved to be “blackballed” from Hollywood over the accusations. “The only sentence a guy like that deserves is a bad case of blue b—s,” she said.
Body found of woman who vanished after Tinder date
Authorities have recovered the body of a Nebraska woman whose disappearance after a Tinder date last month triggered a massive search and bizarre social media posts from two persons of interest in the tragic mystery.
Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister said Tuesday that “analysis of digital evidence” led authorities to a body in rural Clay County they believe is that of Sydney Loofe, 24, who vanished three weeks ago.
“We do believe that there is evidence of foul play,” Bliemeister said.
Bliemeister expressed a “strong belief” that the body is that of Loofe, who was reported missing Nov. 16 after failing to show up at her job at a Lincoln home improvement store. He said formal confirmation would be made in the coming days.
Bliemeister provided no further details on the cause of death or circumstances surrounding the discovery. Investigators had been using Loofe’s cellphone signal to retrace her movements in the hours before she disappeared.
Loofe’s parents, George and Susie Loofe, acknowledged their daughter’s death on their “Finding Sydney Loofe” Facebook page.
“It’s with heavy hearts that we share this most recent update with you all,” the couple said. “Please continue to pray for Sydney and our entire family. May God grant eternal rest unto thee. We love you Sydney.”
Bliemeister said the persons of interest, Aubrey Trail, 51, and Bailey Boswell, 23, remained in custody but had not been charged in the case. Both apparently left the state in the days after Loofe disappeared and were arrested Thursday near Branson, Mo., on unrelated charges.
Social media posts indicate Loofe went on a date Nov. 15 with Boswell, who has confirmed on social media that she met Loofe via the dating app Tinder.
Boswell and roommate, Aubrey Trail, 51, live in the eastern Nebraska town of Wilber, about 40 miles south of Lincoln and the last place Loofe was seen alive. Trail and Boswell posted videos on social media last week proclaiming their innocence and claiming their efforts to speak with Lincoln police had been largely rebuffed.
Boswell, wearing a hoodie and sunglasses in a video, said she dropped Loofe off at a friend’s house after their date and never heard from her again. Bliemeister said authorities thus far have been unable to confirm Boswell’s timeline.
Trail said on his video that he “wasn’t running from anything.” He sarcastically added that he is “just a criminal so you’re going to believe” his claims.
“We’re continuing to speak with Aubrey Trail and we’ll continue to do so as long as he’s willing,” Bliemeister said Tuesday.
Bliemeister said police believe that there is no continuing threat to the public. But he provided no motive for the murder and stressed that no one had been charged.
“By their own statements on social media, we believe that Aubrey Trail and Bailey Boswell were two of the last people to see her before her disappearance,” Bliemeister said. “Thus they remain persons of interest.”
Will Harvey Weinstein case be a watershed moment? Experience says probably not
The Harvey Weinstein scandal is being hailed as a “watershed moment.” But many moments that first appear to be watersheds aren’t, and many that really are watersheds become apparent only in retrospect.
Such moments are less about their impact on us than on those who come after us. That’s why this exceptional case, with its grotesque protagonist, Hollywood setting and social media explosion, seems a dubious candidate for the watershed pantheon — except maybe as a cautionary tale about rushing to judgement.
Weinstein, the powerful and successful movie producer, is accused by many women, some quite famous, of being at least a sexual harasser and at worst a sexual assailant. He has both denied the charges and promised to seek help.
The affair has provoked a massive social media conversation, symbolized by the #MeToo hashtag that’s been used by hundreds of thousands on Twitter. What began as a story about Hollywood has become one about America, with female political officials and others coming forward to tell of insults and assaults at work.
Following similar cases (including those of Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes), Weinstein’s has persuaded some that we’re at a turning point in how men and women behave in the American workplace.
Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News broadcaster who accused Ailes of sexual harassment, told USA TODAY’s Cara Kelly that “this is the watershed moment’’ in the fight against such conduct. Melissa Silverstein, founder and editor of the blog Women and Hollywood, is one of many others to use the same term.
But experience counsels caution, if not outright skepticism.
Historians such as Peter Stearns of George Mason University, Steve Gillon of the University of Oklahoma and Patrick Maney of Boston College agree that the term “watershed moment’’ is overused.
Maney thinks the term should be reserved for “transformative events’’ like the Industrial Revolution. He says that kind of change takes years. The U.S. Civil Rights Movement, for example, had no one single watershed moment after which everything changed, but rather a series of key events, from Rosa Parks on the bus in Montgomery in 1955 to the Pettus Bridge march in Selma in 1965.
James Grossman, director of the American Historical Association, says watershed is “a bad metaphor.’’ What makes a moment a watershed – its impact – by definition occurs in the future. “As an historian I have enough trouble figuring out what happened,’’ he says, “without figuring out what’s going to happen.’’
But sometimes history does seem to pivot on a single date or event: Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination, 9/11, Adam’s bite of the apple.
And these days, whatever the historians’ preference, no one else wants to wait for history to be written. “This is the era of instant history, so we have to try,’’ says John Baick, who teaches at Western New England University in Springfield, Mass. “The question is, will it stick?’’
The Weinstein affair is so unusual and unfinished it presents a daunting challenge to anyone who’d try to predict its eventual impact, or label it a watershed. That’s because it features:
- An unsympathetic villain and sympathetic accusers. Weinstein is being described as a monster, which does not portend or justify systemic change. Iif the monster is slain, the problem is solved. And his accusers (unlike, say, Cosby’s) include celebrities (Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie) with more clout and credibility than a working stiff.
- An exotic setting. Hollywood is Hollywood. Most workplaces are not filled with beautiful people driven by a desire for global fame, access to which is controlled by a few men using subjective standards.
- A social media sensation. A hashtag does not a watershed make. The impact of Twitter, Facebook et al. can be ephemeral. Take #BlackLivesMatter. That idea, so potent after the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., now seems lost in the NFL national anthem protests. And it has not stopped more police shootings of unarmed civilians of color.
- An ongoing saga. Weinstein may be finished in Hollywood, but his case is still playing out. Will women (or men) from other fields continue to come forward to report abuse and thus keep the issue in front of the public?
- An old, old problem. Sexual harassment at work goes back to when people worked in caves. The forces in Hollywood and elsewhere that conspire to allow or encourage such flagrant, repetitive behavior won’t be vanquished by one million tweets or one man’s ostracism.
For every legitimate watershed moment, there are many false alarms – events or dates that were hailed as landmarks at the time and either didn’t have the expected impact, or were simply forgotten.
Some would-be watersheds:
- The Newtown, Conn., massacre: The attack in 2012 was supposed to be the ultimate watershed moment, one that would lead to greater controls on automatic weapons like the one used to kill 20 elementary school students. Proposals got nowhere in Congress, despite White House support. Gun sales actually increased.
- The 2008 presidential election. Barack Obama’s presidency, undeniably historic, was also going to be transformative. “Doesn’t seem that way now, does it?’’ says Grossman. The election did not usher in a new era in race relations, and Obama’s successor is working assiduously to erase his accomplishments.
- The Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Anita Hill’s testimony in 1991 that Thomas harassed her when she worked for him was supposed to change how people thought about the issue. But the problem did not fade, to judge from the Weinstein outcry. And as Hill herself notes, many college students now don’t know about her case.
If the long term importance of some events and dates are overestimated, others that really are significant pass unnoticed:
- Oct. 12, 1998: Matthew Shephard is murdered. The University of Montana student’s death became a rallying point for a crackdown on anti-gay violence.
- Sept. 5, 1980: Mothers against Drunk Driving is founded. The group’s crusade helped transform American behavior regarding alcohol and vehicles.
- June, 1979: The Rev. Jerry Falwell co-founds the Moral Majority. The organization married conservative partisan politics and evangelical Christianity, a coalition that has helped elect four Republican presidents, including Donald Trump.
- May 9, 1960: The Food and Drug Administration announces plans to approve the birth control pill. The sexual revolution was not far behind.
Even in hindsight, it can be hard to agree on what is or isn’t a watershed moment.
Take the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Although BC’s Maney has it on his short list of watershed moments – the world has never come closer to nuclear war – it’s probably not as big now as it seemed at the time.
By 2007, then-White House spokeswoman Dana Perino admitted to confusing the Soviet-U.S. standoff with the Bay of Pigs, the ill-fated U.S.-backed invasion of Fidel Castro’s Cuba one year earlier.
Similarly, 9/11 is not a watershed in every respect. Predictions 16 years ago that the terror attacks would lead to an era of political civility and national unity now look silly.
Casting couch: Quo vadis?
You never know what’s beyond the mountain range that divides the watershed, so it’s hard to know if Weinstein’s fall will have a lasting impact on his nation or his industry.
For some American women, it’s a cathartic moment. But why would the case of a man who toiled far behind the camera be more galvanizing that those of familiar, often admired men like O’Reilly and Cosby? Or of a presidential candidate who boasted on videotape of groping women?
A woman named Wagatwe Wanjuki wrote on Facebook that she won’t say “me too” partly because “I know, deep down, it won’t do anything. Men who need a certain threshold of survivors coming forward to ‘get it’ will never get it.”
Hollywood could be another story, and maybe the casting couch’s days are numbered. It’s equally possible that, just as it survived the demise of the old Hollywood studio system under which it became infamous, the couch will survive this, too.
Even as Weinstein sinks below the waves, an industrial structure in which the powerful can take sexual advantage of the less powerful remains unchanged. It is, in the words of a song from an animated Hollywood blockbuster, a tale as old as time.
Woman victim of dine and dash after online (PlentyofFish) (POF.COM) date
This experience hasn’t scared her off from dating but she wants to warn other to be on guard
(CNN) – Some say you can’t put a price on love but one California woman says she ended up paying more than her fair share. She went on a date with a man she met online. Her prince charming showed up, ate his fill and then dashed leaving her with a $163-dollar restaurant bill. Turns out, police were already looking for this guy.
Diane Guilmette, Dine and Dash Victim said, “I was just I was shocked I was so floored I was embarrassed.”
Diane Guilmette of van Nuys is victim of a dine and dash. Only the person who dined her was the one that dashed leaving her with $163 tab!
Diane Guilmette: “And I got a message from this guy. It was really a very flattering message.”
She says she met him on a dating site called “plenty of fish.” He initiated the conversation and after a few messages the two decided to meet at Morton’s Steakhouse in downtown l-a.
Diane Guilmette: “A little pricey for me but I agreed.”
Guilmette says he wasn’t shy when it came to ordering.
Diane Guilmette: “He ordered a lot of food. He had an appetizer. He ordered a steak. This restaurant is all al la carte.
He even ordered a couple sides, a glass of wine. So he was looked like he was really enjoying himself and when we got near to the end of the meal, not quite finished, he said he had to go make a phone call.”
15 minutes later Guilmette says she realized he wasn’t coming back.
Diane Guilmette: “When I went to message him on the app, he had blocked me. And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh! Is this really happening right now?”
That’s when she took to social media and told her friends what happened posting pictures of this man who police say is Paul Gonzales of Alta Loma. They say, he’s also accused of failing to pay for a cut and color at a Burbank salon back in February. We brought you the story back then.
The l-A district attorney’s office says Gonzles is facing two pending cases of petty theft. Guilmette says once she told her story online other women came forward and shared their own stories.
Diane Guilmette: “I’ve heard lots of people say he did the same thing. It’s typically very high end restaurants.”
She says this experience hasn’t scared her off from dating but she wants to warn other to be on guard!
Dear Mr. Turner,
I’ve read your letter to the judge on behalf of your son Brock, asking for leniency in his rape conviction.
I need you to understand something, and I say this as a father who dearly loves my son as much as you must love yours:
Brock is not the victim here.
His victim is the victim.
She is the wounded one.
He is the damager.
If his life has been “deeply altered” it is because he has horribly altered another human being; because he made a reprehensible choice to take advantage of someone for his own pleasure. This young woman will be dealing with this for far longer than the embarrassingly short six months your son is being penalized. She will endure the unthinkable trauma of his “20 minutes of action” for the duration of her lifetime, and the fact that you seem unaware of this fact is exactly why we have a problem.
This is why young men continue to rape women.
This is why so many men believe that they can do whatever they please to a woman’s body without accountability.
This is the reason so many victims of sexual assault never step forward.
This is why white privilege is real and insidious and usually those with it are oblivious to it.
I understand you trying to humanize your son in your letter; talking to the judge about his favorite snacks and swim practice and about the memories that are sweet for you as his father—but to be honest I don’t give a damn and if his victim was your daughter I’m quite sure you wouldn’t either.
I imagine this young woman had favorite snacks and sports too, and parents who had wonderful plans for her that didn’t include this nightmare.
There is no scenario where your son should be the sympathetic figure here. He is the assailant. He is the rapist. I can’t imagine as a father how gut wrenching such a reality is for you, but it is still true.
Brock has to register as a sex offender because he sexually assaulted an incapacitated young woman. This is why we have such requirements; because one vile act against another human being is one too many, because we don’t get a do-over when we do unspeakable things, because people need to be protected with knowledge of others in their midst who have failed so egregiously at respecting another person’s basic dignity.
The idea that your son has never violated another woman next to a dumpster before isn’t a credit to his character. We don’t get kudos for only raping one person in our lifetime. I don’t believe your son is a monster but he acted like one and that needs to be accounted for. To be sure, this decision is not the sum total of Brock’s life, but it is an important part of the equation and it matters deeply.
And to be clear, Mr. Turner,”alcohol and sexual promiscuity” are not the story here. The story here, is that young men have choices to make and these choices define them, even if those choices are made when temptation is great and opportunity is abundant. In fact, our humanity is most expressed when faced with such things, we choose integrity and decency; when we abstain from doing what is easy but wrong.
We as parents don’t control our children. Most parents understand this. Despite our best efforts to the contrary, they fail and fall and do things we’d never consent to. I certainly hope this is such an occasion, though it is not coming across that way in your letter. It feels like you want more sympathy and goodwill toward your son than you want for the survivor of his crime, and that’s simply not good enough for her or for those young men and women watching.
Here is her story.
You love your son and you should. But love him enough to teach him to own the terrible decisions he’s made, to pay the debt to society as prescribed, and then to find a redemptive path to walk, doing the great work in the world that you say he will.
For now though, as one father to another: help us teach our children to do better—by letting them see us do better.