am the elder's response to alan richman's "diner for schmucks"


it's probably not surprising that when i'm not typing or finding nonsense here, in seeds, or on the books blog, i'm generally discussing random food and anthropology links with the people in my life.

so when i came across this restaurant review that goes beyond the restaurant via a sexual harassment accusation by gq's alan richman, it was only natural that my older sister, am the elder, and i ended up discussing it at length.

am the elder is not only a wise, socially aware, and responsible human being, she is also a wonderful sister who lets her comments on the fly be posted by sm.



of mr. richman's article, am the elder says:


that's a mixed up jumble there. on the one hand he's making a lot of good points about service, although it's hard, in retrospect, to tell if his review is as even-handed as he is trying to make it appear, because clearly (and understandably) his feeling changed after the email from the owner. he even admitted that his review changed. at the same time, however, it's important to report all of the interactions, not just some of them...

the big problem is he's saying that sexual harassment claims are always seen as proof of guilt on the part of the accused, and which is just not true. normally they are swept under the carpet, or laughed off, or some other form of victim blaming, and almost always, it seems, the accused manages to cultivates sympathy by claiming that it's the worst thing in the world to be accused of sexual harassment, when all those evil women are doing it to get revenge — which is essentially what this guy is doing. he has a lot of valid reasons why he didn't do it, and a lot of righteous anger (which, by the way, a lot of real harassers fake well), and it is very likely that he didn't do it. but, even with his friends with him, it's a case of he said/she said, and almost always the public takes the side of the he said, which makes it even more audacious that he demands an outing of the accuser — as it is, he has taken revenge on the restaurant owners — can you imagine what he would do to the waitress? likely, she would never have been able to work in the area again, which is precisely why we don't publicly out victims of assault. 

think about it for a moment: why in the world would the restaurateur make false accusations? she's talking to a highly successful critic who has the power to make or break her restaurant. to accuse him, especially in writing, is just risky and a poor business decision. and it makes the restaurant look bad in a way that poor service just does not. the truth is, for most men, a sexual harassment claim will not damage him. there is a "boys will by boys" [treatment that is often given to offenders]. but the counter accusation will probably have a lasting effect on the restaurant. i predict it won't survive. 

it's almost a shame [mr. richman] went this route because it actually weakens the other points of his article. in participating in victim blaming, he distracts from his other, much more valid arguments, which means that no one will be discussing those [restaurant issues] (which need attention) and instead everyone will be focused on the sexual harassment accusations. it's also important to note that the restaurateur made her statements privately, and, while they were poorly worded, it appears that at least initially she wanted to figure out what happened. she didn't publicly embarrass him. he, on the other hand, made it very public, and in such a way that no matter what she tries to do to counter the negative publicity, she will not be successful. he did what many powerful, privileged people do — he abused his bully pulpit. 

he could have successfully talked about the experience (that is, the experience of being falsely accused) without publicly naming the restaurant. the fact that he chose not to is really bothersome and makes one questions his professed innocence and wonder if he is, indeed, trying to bully the restaurant staff into silence. it wouldn't be the first time it has happened.