The Strange Career of Jill Crow — Part 2

by Tanya Young 2 years ago in humanity

Move over, Uncle Tom. Sexual harassment depends on "Aunt Tom" —the iconic opportunist.

The Strange Career of Jill Crow — Part 2

As more twisted tales of sexual harassment by Kevin Spacey come out, it is clear that the workplace abuser counts on three things: their leverage, your silence as well as the "Aunt Tom"— that is, the abuse enabler.

When made the object of groping or lewd remarks, a struggling actress or low-man-on-the-totem pole production assistant has no voice. The sexual harasser habitually relies upon his victim to keep the secret of the abuse. The harasser trusts their employee-victim to protect his image out of loyalty. Truthfully, most victims keep the abuse and sexual violence they suffer private from a sense of fear.

While sexual harassers strip the dignity of their subordinate workers, there are folks watching who know and do nothing. Abuse enablers violate a legal concept called "misprision" by willfully hiding their heads in the sand. The term means the deliberate concealment of one's knowledge of a treasonable act or felony. Further, the Aunt Tom blames the victim and is obsessed with breaking her or him down to please their master harasser. These breakroom opportunists actively seek to con colleagues into thinking the harassment victim is emotionally unstable while brainwashing the victim into believing they have his or her back.

Why? This cult of paid minions backs up the harasser for the benefit of their own career and pocketbook. Abuse enablers seek to be legitimized as an insider, praised and even promoted up the ranks for their collusion with sexual harassers. Ultimately, they are little more than aspiring predators, fawning and practicing at their master's feet. For Massa, there is no limit; the abuse enabling Aunt Tom buck dances, coons and rabble-rouses.

In 1852, Connecticut-born abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly. The long-suffering Black slave Uncle Tom is a dutiful, devoted servant to his cruel and greedy White master. While the Uncle Tom is synonymous with the coon, the sellout and the Stephen character portrayed by Samuel Jackson in Django Unchained, the Aunt Tom ups the treachery by pretending to be a friend and ally to the harassment victim. The Aunt Tom contrasts with Sambo, who Beecher writes as straight up about betraying fellow slaves to the uncouth and brutal Simon Legree. Sambo states clearly and openly: "Give me the whip... I'll show you where they're hiding." The key similarity among the Uncle and Aunt Tom as well as Sambo characters is that they are all brainwashed to see through the eyes of the exploitative master.

Rather than place responsibility for harassment squarely on the shoulders of the perpetrator, the Aunt Tom upholds the view that every woman in the office besides her is a potential victim and, therefore, a lawsuit waiting to happen. Those women just don't understand the big harassing boss like she does. Those women won't protect the big sexual deviant boss like she does. And, yes, she serves the Big Boss... with her hand out for her big reward.

Examples of Aunt Toms include private investigators from Black Cube who impersonated women's rights advocates to meet with and gather information about actress-accuser Rose McGowan. Also, a Black Cube spy who played a phony journalist who contacted actress-accuser Annabella Sciorra to test to see if she would reveal Weinstein's rape. Even lawyer Lisa Bloom (the daughter of celebrity attorney Gloria Allred) strayed from her pursuit of women's rights and signed on briefly to represent predatory producer Harvey Weinstein as reports of decades of sexual harassment and assault accusation unfolded. Lisa Bloom explained, "From my perspective, I thought, 'Here is my chance to get to the root of the problem from the inside. I am usually on the outside throwing stones. Here is my chance to be in the inside and to get a guy to handle this thing in a different way.' I thought that would be a positive thing." Uh huh.

Aunt Toms calculate the payoffs of partnering up knowingly with sexual abusers in order to self-promote. Then are dismayed when and if their private cooning proves to be a public liability.

Aunt Toms are predictably shallow, self-interested, wannabe predators with a pack mentality. They thrive on hiding among the rank-and-file staff while fomenting, prolonging, vicariously enjoying and certainly witnessing other people’s pain and suffering. There were assistants setting up actresses with hotel room "business meetings" for Weinstein. Women journalists and Human Resources staff recruited interns and young staffers to work with Roger Ailes. And, of course, there are Aunt Tom women who took the Weinstein and Ailes pay-for-play offers. They suffered sexual harassment, but chose to capitulate to the Big Boss, his egocentric needs, and irrational demands. In the end, the Aunt Tom goes along to get along, fuelling the perception that "this is just how the game is played."

Tanya Young
Tanya Young
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Tanya Young

Third Wave Feminist, Peabody Award winner, Ms. Foundation delegate to the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women, DNCC Credentials Supervisor - foreign diplomatic corps, Board Member - Manhattan Neighborhood Network, Stonewall Democratic Club

See all posts by Tanya Young