I note the placement of the gentleman's hand on Martha's shoulder -- at a time when men are nearly weeping that the #MeToo movement is leaving them clueless of even touching a female colleague. Anything sets us off these days.
Dustin Hoffman Groper?
The acclaimed Dustin Hoffman has been in a total state of denial over allegations that has has a wandering hand. It just didn't happen says Hoffman, regarding Anna Graham Hunter's assertion that Hoffman sexually harassed her at age 17.
Kathryn Rossetter weighed in over the weekend, saying that her dream job of performing eight times a week with Hoffman in 'Death of a Salesman' became "a horrific, demoralizing and abusive experience at the hands (literally) of one of my acting idols."
Rossetter wrote that Hoffman would take photos with her and "grab my breast just before they snapped the picture and then remove it." She often didn't notice in time, which she says made it seem like she was "complicit with the gesture. I was not. Not ever."
This sense of her own complicity in Hoffman's actions haunted her, especially in view of her total experience with one of the most acclaimed actors in America.
In the past weeks, countless men have damned women for not speaking out sooner. Shamed in our own humiliation, we feel that somehow we have caused the groping. Where did we go wrong? Rossetter continues:
One night in Chicago, I felt his hand up under my slip on the inside of my thighs. I was completely surprised and tried to bat him away while watching the stage for my cues. After the show he was busy with the producer and director so I had no access to him to address it. It then happened almost every show. Six to eight shows a week. I couldn’t speak to him in the moment because I was on a live mic. He kept it up and got more and more aggressive. One night he actually started to stick his fingers inside me. Night after night I went home and cried. I withdrew and got depressed and did not have any good interpersonal relationships with the cast. How could the same man who fought to get me the job, who complimented my work, who essentially launched my career, who gave me the benefit of his wisdom as an actor, how could he also be this sexual power abuser? Was I doing something? Was it my fault?
Unlike Martha Stewart's friend in Dubai, who put his hand lightly on her shoulder, Slate surfaced a 1979 interview with beloved actor Meryl Streep in which she described auditioning for a play that Hoffman directed. She recalled the encounter in the piece, "He came up to me and said, 'I’m Dustin—burp—Hoffman,’ and he put his hand on my breast. 'What an obnoxious pig,' I thought."
As a feminist leader, Meryl Streep has been comparatively quiet about the sexist fracas in Hollywood. In a Nov. 2017 response to Slate's unearthing the 1979 interview, Streep’s rep said that “there was an offense and it is something for which Dustin apologized. And Meryl accepted that.” The rep also indicated that the TIME interview did render "an accurate rendering of that meeting." but didn't actually stipulate what TIME got wrong.
Larry King Groper?
On Monday Terry Richard, the ex-wife of singer Eddie Fisher, asserted that legendary talk host Larry King groped her in 2005, saying that he slipped his hand down the back of her backless dress while they were posing for a picture together. Richard asserted that, on another occasion, King groped her butt so forcefully that it left a bruise.
The story appeared in Monday's Daily Mail, and references two separate occasions -- once in 2005 and again in 2006 -- during baseball awards dinners at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Richard describes the scenes:
'We stood there to pose for a photo, I was wearing a very low cut backless Versace black dress.
'Larry put his hand behind me on my back and as the photographer was taking our picture Larry slid his hand down from the middle of my back to putting his hand inside of my dress and it ended up with about three or four of his fingers in the crack of my a**, resting in the crack of my a**.
'He just stuck it in… I don’t know how he got [his hand] in there, but he did.
'I couldn't believe it. I was so shocked. I froze. I let out a "squelch."
'Jamie McCourt was standing to the left of us but didn't see anything, she looked at me after she heard my "squelch" but didn't say anything.
'I just smiled there real big, I didn't know what to do.'
Richard says King left his fingers in the crack of her ass for 'about eight to ten seconds.'
She added: 'He had a big smile on his face. I didn't say anything, I didn't want to cause a scene in front of everyone.
'My reaction was to slap him in his face but he was the guest speaker. It was awful.
'What really got me was – I’m a wife, my child was at the event, I’m working and I was over 50. So, there's no age limit.'
King, 84, denies totally the allegations and says he will sue The Daily Mail.
Ironically, Richard references the public photo experience with King in the same way that Rossetter describes her experiences with Hoffman.
“Larry King is a groper. He groped me twice. He gets a thrill doing this in front of the camera, knowing I couldn’t do anything.” Rossetter alleges that Hoffman removed his hand from her breast right before the camera flashed. Except that at least one photo featured above caught Hoffman in the act.
It's a fact that most people want to look friendly in photos. The question of what to do with one's hands does present a challenge. I will look at images further, for good ideas on hand positions. I think we can all agree, though, that a man's hand placed lightly on a woman's shoulder is less fraught with challenges than his hand around her waist or lower back, a position that puts the man physically much more in control of the woman's body.
It pains me to think that large numbers of men have wandering hands and that they assert power over women while taking photos. But the cascade of groping accusations against men -- including Mn. Sen. Al Franken, who has resigned, suggests that a more light-handed approach is needed. Some men actually ask the woman -- especially if the two people don't know each other at all -- about their preferences in how the photo is staged. It's actually quite easy. ~ Anne