I’m Pitting this post because I couldn’t figure out a way to write this in a Cafe Society thread without getting a warning.
You have used the phrase " Robin Fucking Williams " several times. The first time it was italicized. Now each word is in caps. The strident defensive tone reeks of a knee-jerk over the top defense. Try not to be star-struck about these situations. Nobody gets a pass on these behaviors. Not people in the public eye. Not the late shift manager at the local Dunkin’ Donuts who rewards young employees with more and more hours if they let him get into their shirts. Not if they are a commanding officer in a branch of the Armed Forces. Nobody gets a pass on this.
Just because he was a wildly successful cocaine-drenched comic and not a stand-up comic of lesser renown ( Al Franken ) or a morning show host ( Matt Lauer ) or a movie star ( Kevin Spacey ) doesn’t give him a pass.
He put his hands on a woman’s body without her consent. He did it in a work environment. She felt compelled to engage in a narrative of defending his behavior.
Ding Ding Ding. Three strikes and you’re out. And you know what? I adored his body of work, and I’m sorry he’s dead. Doesn’t mean fuck-all.
Not a huge angry pitting. Not at all. But I’m calling you out on defending a person who put their hands on someone else’s body without consent.
Per Dawber’s description, the motivation of these behaviors was not sexual nor power but an attempt at humor that was received as such. There is nothing in the reports that she ever told him to stop the behaviors or objected to them. There is no reason she felt “compelled” to do anything. She shared a story and did not express any sense of having been a victim.
That said, lack of objection is not the same as consent and humorous intent does not excuse everything (see this discussion regarding Katie Perry’s abusive behavior that is given a pass because of its presumed humorous intent).
If Williams was still alive then I’d be all on board with saying that he should apologize for the behavior, just as I think Perry should today, even though the victim is downplaying it after the fact.
I think if he was alive he would do that.
But given that he is dead and cannot offer that apology, given that we have no evidence that he had a series of incidents of touching people sexually who did not actually condone the touching other than what Dawber reminisces (her assumption that he did notwithstanding), especially as he became a person of power, and given that he certainly will not do so in the future, what would you have happen? Burn all copies of Mrs. Doubtfire? Protect the children from watching Aladdin?
Yeah…I’m not too sure about a pitting from somebody who thinks stage kisses are essentially rape and that all Germans are crypto-Nazis to the degree that even visiting Germany is dangerous for Jewish people.
It’s a matter of record as stated by Dawber that he touched her without her having given prior consent. I believe her. Of course I admit that.
That same record states that she found that touching to be fun. And I believe her. If this was at the time, and he had power over her in some way, I wouldn’t. But given the context is her sharing fond memories of him that she views positively, I do.
And yes her comments of “It was the ’70s, after all.” is relevant. Remember that Allan Funt’s “What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?”, in which people were subjected to seeing naked men and women both in unexpected contexts, was considered funny then, not a documentary on sexual harassment.
Touch that was experienced as fun play and as funny by the one touched and apparently never objected to just does not ding my outrage meter, even without explicit prior consent.
If this dings your outrage meter then you may need to bring it in for a calibration check.
Did Pam Dawber ever say Robin “groped” as opposed to “grabbed”? There’s a big difference in categorization there.
Although, given the amount of time they worked together, and the nature of the job, he probably did have a sort of implicit consent for certain kinds of touching that might be considered rude in other contexts–maybe even such as might look like “groping” to an observer.
Some granularity of understanding would go a long way, OP.
This is a strange hill some people are choosing to die on.
Yes, Williams groped Dawber by all reasonable definitions of “groped”, according to her own statements. He does not appear to have done so for sexual gratification or to intimidate, humiliate or belittle Dawber - he did it for laughs and Dawber understood that and was apparently happy to be part of the gag. It’s certainly behavior that is incredibly immature and inappropriate, particularly by today’s standards, but context is important and that group of people at that time in that place appear to have been fine with it so unless and until someone else comes forward and says that Williams’ attentions were unwanted I’ll consider this a non-issue.
That said, this in no way ought to be extrapolated to other incidents in other contexts. These people were fine with whatever happened; other people in other situations may not have been.
Anyway. Anyone know more about this claim in wiki?
The claim is unsourced but the idea that the two of them, in the context of them both just starting out in their first shows, would have the spine to stand together against what they saw as inappropriate sexualization of her character, frankly surprises and impresses me if true.
All definitions of sexual harassment that I have seen specify unwanted or unwelcome sexual advances. Now men often over estimate the extent to which their advances are wanted or welcomed and this gets them into trouble, but it appears in this case they were not, so there was no harassment. This may be due to pure blind luck on Williams’ part, but unless other women come forward claiming he did the same to them when it wasn’t wanted or welcome, I’m going to assume that it was because he had a good understanding of the situation.
Although she said she didn’t mind, I don’t think we can take that at face value. She was on a hit show which was 99% built around Williams. If she wasn’t okay with his behaviors, Mindy would quickly be replaced with her previously unknown cousin “Cindy Snow” and the show would be renamed “Mork and Cindy”. She had to make herself be okay with his behaviors or else she’d go back to being a struggling actress. That’s the reality of it being the '70s. The producers at the time were not going to put up with an “uptight” woman interfering with their hit show.
It reminds me of the dissonance and justification physically abused women come up with as to why they deserved to be hit. “It’s my fault he hit me because I forgot to get cigarettes at the store.” In no way does she like being abused, but somehow she has created a justification which makes it seem okay.
There’s a difference between “I genuinely like this behavior and want it to continue” and “I’ll put up with this behavior because I want to avoid the negative consequences of trying to stop it.” I don’t get the sense at all that Dawber is the type of woman who enjoys this type of bawdy behavior. I’m sure some women do, but I don’t think she is that type. I’m pretty sure if she could have magically made him stop without any consequences, she would have done it.
For the same reason I don’t take it at face value when a beaten woman says she deserved it. If Pam was someone like Jenny McCarthy, then I’d totally believe that she truly didn’t mind. But in no way do I get the sense that Pam enjoys that kind of stuff like him being naked and grabbing her boob.
Not necessarily. Even if we accept that Dawber genuinely didn’t mind Williams’ behavior that doesn’t make it right. No evidence has been given that Williams made any effort to determine whether or not Dawber would mind. And it was behavior that would generally be unacceptable. If Williams went ahead and did it and Dawber didn’t mind, then what Williams did was wrong but he got lucky.
It was like a guy getting really drunk and then driving home. Even if he made it home safely, that doesn’t make drunk driving acceptable.