As I listen to all the conversation about Herman Cain’s purported sexcapades when he headed The Restaurant Association, I recall all the “association” heads I met in the seventies, most of whom made Cain look like an amateur. As an editor of a major trade publication that covered the home furnishings business, I met the heads of furniture associations in North Carolina, cookware associations in Indiana, and electronics associations in New Jersey. They were constantly on the road, away from wives and children, attending one industry meeting and event after another. They’d congregate at hotel bars with their colleagues every single night, where they’d drink themselves silly and go after women. Gallivanting wasn’t restricted to association honchos. The heads of companies, as well as their lieutenants, jumped right into the fray. Why should they be any different than politicians and actors?
When I became the public relations director of a big consumer products company in the mid seventies, the married executives there screwed around non-stop. The married chief executive, as a matter of fact, was having a torrid affair with a woman who worked in my department. Everyone in the company knew about it. He’d come to our side of the office to pick her up after work. When his wife filed for divorce and asked for lots of money, he tried to enlist me to help him do damage control with the press.
Three decades ago, there were far fewer working women and we got a lot of “attention” from men who either had dismal marriages or simply craved a romp in the hay when they were away from their wives. You’d never call them “gentlemen.” Lots of them flirted, but went no further. One I remember well, a big fat man who made a big fat salary and flirted shamelessly with one my colleagues, a perky woman 20 years his junior and a third his body mass. G, the woman in question, played it for all it was worth. The man had a big job in the industry she covered as a reporter and was a great source for her.
All this happened before “sexual harassment” entered our vernacular. Regardless, many women enjoyed the flirtations or happily hopped into bed. I swear they did. It was rumored, as a matter of fact, that a female executive at a major fashion publication propositioned men in the industry.
Many men undoubtedly were, are and will be guilty of making inappropriate sexual advances, but women are not always pure as the driven snow. I wasn’t. I was not even mildly surprised to hear about Herman Cain’s behavior when he was at The Restaurant Association 15 years ago. I do question why women felt the need to come out of the woodwork to tell us he touched them inappropriately. Would that behavior make him a horrible president?
Presidents and presidential contenders, on both sides of the aisle, have been having affairs for years. It didn’t seem to affect Thomas Jefferson, JFK and Bill Clinton’s performances, pun notwithstanding.