Roy Moore, accused of sexual abuse, challenged Jimmy Kimmel to a fight; Kimmel accepted
Kara Alaimo: This bro culture is the whole reason America has such a problem with sexual misconduct
Editor’s Note: Kara Alaimo, an assistant professor of public relations at Hofstra University, is the author of “Pitch, Tweet, or Engage on the Street: How to Practice Global Public Relations and Strategic Communication.” She was spokeswoman for international affairs in the Treasury Department during the Obama administration. Follow her on Twitter @karaalaimo. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Let’s get one thing straight, Jimmy Kimmel and Roy Moore: The last thing American women want or need is for you two to defend our honor in some kind of retrograde battle.
After getting into a Twitter spat this week, late-night comedian Kimmel and Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore are now gearing up – or at least blustering about gearing up – to resolve their differences “man to man.”
It began Wednesday, when the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” host sent one of his show’s writers to heckle Moore at an event in Alabama. Moore is accused of sexually abusing young women (which he denies).
A day later, Moore threw down the gauntlet. “.@jimmykimmel If you want to mock our Christian values, come down here to Alabama and do it man to man,” he tweeted.
Kimmel accepted the challenge. “There is no one I would love to fight more than you,” he said during his show Thursday night. “I will put my Christian values aside just for you and for that fight.”
How asinine is this. They just don’t get it.
The whole reason America has such a problem with sexual misconduct in the first place is precisely because of this bro culture: the belief that, for powerful men, the rules of appropriate social and workplace behavior don’t apply.
As Ana Homayoun recently explained in The New York Times, “Bro culture uses the formidable elixirs of power and status to create a toxic social environment, and tends to be characterized by manipulative charm, entitlement and a so-called ‘rules don’t apply attitude’ – as well as an inability to express emotion, show remorse or be vulnerable.”
Roy Moore and all the other men recently accused of sexual misconduct, from Harvey Weinstein (he denies accusations) to Matt Lauer (he apologized), John Conyers (he denied wrongdoing), Bill O’Reilly (he denied accusations), Al Franken (he apologized) and on and on and on, allegedly used their positions of power in politics, media and entertainment to abuse women.
Kimmel and Moore are drawing from the same bro-culture behavior well – although they and their silly TV-Twitter dustup are a more benign, chest-bumping version of something that in an extreme form (see Moore allegations) becomes very serious.
Still, their posturing suggests that, because they’re powerful men, they don’t have to use civilized means to resolve their disagreements.
The appropriate way to address the allegations against Moore isn’t with fisticuffs. It’s through respectful debate. We need to have a national conversation about why powerful men have for so long thought that they could harass and abuse women with impunity – and how we can put an end to bro culture once and for all.
And, excuse me, but since Moore and dozens of other high-profile men have been accused of harming young women, it would seem appropriate that women should be involved here.
Instead, Kimmel and Moore are suggesting they’ll physically fight. In other words, Kimmel is resorting to the kind of primitive, testosterone-fueled, antisocial behavior that America in the 21st century should have left behind – all in order to address Moore’s alleged primitive, testosterone-fueled, antisocial behavior.
Of course, physical assault is a crime. And rightly so. But somehow the two men think they can get away with this kind of threatening behavior because they’re powerful and male. (Kimmel has suggested donating money from the fight to charity. Sorry, but that doesn’t excuse the conduct, either.)
Here’s a better idea for you, Kimmel and Moore: Instead of misusing your positions of power, try using them for good. I especially expected more of Kimmel, who has recently been using his platform to talk about important issues, like gun control and the need for every American to have health care. Wading into politics has only increased his popularity – and boosted his ratings.
Here’s a tip: Acting like a cave man isn’t going to make you popular with American women. What we want most of all is for men to stop acting like Neanderthals. Even if they’re powerful.