American Fall 2017

The last few weeks we’ve seen men falling from grace. Well, we’ve seen powerful (and unknowingly powerful) men who have abused, fallen from their positions. Whether abusing powerful connections to self aggrandize, or using status to euphemistically self aggrandize while forcing a woman or minor female or male to watch and/or participate in unwanted sexual acts, there has been an almost daily revelation of jerks who shouldn’t get off.

Yep…the 2017 Jerk Off. Sorry for being crass, but is there really a more perfect description?

Let’s go back a few weeks to the #MeToo moment. Women (and almost women) didn’t pile on to a hashtag for fun. It was an admission I never imagined, although it was an assumption as long as I can remember. Being harassed in a sexual way, even just by someone leering, has always been part of the female experience. Abuse is almost as common. Sexual misconduct is practically a catch-all phrase, but women (and girls and boys) know appropriate and inappropriate behavior. I thought men knew appropriate and inappropriate behavior too, but more and more it seems as though too many either don’t know or don’t care. Jerk Offs.

The #MeToo moment was empowering for women (and males who may have been abused as kids), but was astonishing for many men. The assumption seemed to be that there have always been a few bad apples, and power corrupts, but most of us live decently. HA! I suspect most women would reject that, at least in part. Most women learned very early on that they could very easily be preyed upon and have felt diminished by men.

But the American Fall of 2017 isn’t about victimhood, it’s about the Jerk Offs. It’s about exposing the Jerks, many of whom were once widely revered. Mostly, it’s about exposing those who have gotten away with abuse.


The American Fall of 2017 Jerk Off isn’t only about exposing sexual abuse. The Trump administration has been a textbook case in how to be a jerk. Inappropriate behavior has been the MO. For those of Trump’s ilk, disruption is all about being inappropriate. It’s about being unconventional and not having to play by the rules (or barely playing within the rules). Not unlike comedy, which exposes conventions and sometimes seeks to upend them, gaining attention and audience, Trump enjoys the shtick and the platform to bark and get responses. He thinks he’s funny—a bit of a comedian—and seeks power, wealth, and adoration. Oh, and he’s a misogynist and objectifies women, and even if he has been inside the law, cares little for appropriate behavior or decency. He’s the Jerk in Chief.


Then there’s the man child of Silicon Valley, Mark Zuckerberg, with Sheryl Sandberg leaning in by his side, claiming innocence and seeking to be absolved of any responsibility for whatever gets posted on their Facebook platform. They deny that their ginormous social media company and platform is media. I guess it’s just social. Jerks!


But amidst the American Fall of 2017 Jerk Offs, there has been the most horrifying abuse that actually gets diminishing attention each week, with each incident. Mass shootings tend to fall into a different category. They are perpetrated by nobody famous (until the shooting of innocents), so they don’t seem to be about abuse of power. But there is a common denominator to many of these mass shootings, thus far all committed by men.***( Domestic abuse preceeded the mass shooting. We know that not all shootings follow a domestic incident, but even without an incident preceding the shooting, the shooter is often one who could not or did not have appropriate romantic or sexual relationships. This is not to say that the act of a mass shooter is reduced to a domestic incident. It is surely more complicated than that. But the fact that so many of those who commit mass shootings have domestic issues (and easy access to an arsenal of semi automatic and other guns) is one that deserves much more attention.


Abuse exists in many forms and does not manifest in a singular manner. Sure, power corrupts. That we know and have always known. That is why we need limits and checks and balances on power in every domain.

Lack of power can inspire shameful behavior; irrational behavior; or worse. Power issues and weapons (of every sort) are toxic. We have a responsibility to address the weapons of mass destruction of our society and culture, as well as the issues of power that have people become abusers.


The American Fall of 2017, the season of the Jerk Offs, has been a season of exposing the abuse and the abusers, as well as their weapons of destruction. This is an opportunity. I, for one, am amazed and inspired by those who have called out the Jerk Offs. And this is the beginning.

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