No one can be surprised to hear that yet another Fox News employee is accused of sexual harassment. This is a world built by a sexual predator, a world where lewd, suggestive comments and weird double entendre get spewed regularly during the coffee drinking hours. But I am confounded by one recurring detail in the story of Eric Bolling’s bad behavior. It’s the constant use of the word unsolicited. Example: Fox News Host Sent Unsolicited Lewd Text Messages to Colleagues, Sources Say
Now this headline is from the original article in the Huffington Post, which does tend toward sensationalism and click bait. Still, I saw the same phrasing used in numerous legitimate news outlets from the New York Times to the Washington Post. Sure, those newspapers were probably quoting the original article, but I have to wonder why anyone ever felt the need to clarify that the lewd texts were unsolicited. It implies that sometimes people solicit lewd texts from coworkers with whom they have no personal, romantic connection. And I’m left to wonder if I’m hopelessly naive. Are there people out there saying to their officemates: “Hey, Joe, could you send me a picture of your genitals? I have some free time tonight and I’d like to spend it looking at your penis.”
Is this a thing that happens in the modern workplace? Outside of the the porn industry? If so, please contact me and let me know. I’m not joking. I’m dying to know where this is considered an appropriate ask of a colleague.
Look, I don’t really care if you enjoy sending photos of your private parts to your significant other or occasional fling. As long as that person enjoys receiving the photos, it’s dandy. Have fun. But I think I can say without much fear of contradiction that most people do not want to receive photos of a random coworker’s junk. If you’re a random coworker, don’t hit send. This is the sort of communication that requires consent from both parties. In a work situation, I imagine even making the ask would be decent grounds for a sexual harassment claim. So who would solicit such a photo?
I know Bolling says he doesn’t remember sending the pictures, but even that strikes me as bizarre. Either you’re a person prone to sending pictures of your genitals (or someone else’s) into the world or you are not. It shouldn’t be something so casual that you just forget all about it. Even Anthony Weiner didn’t cry forgetfulness, and he’s practically the poster child for bad behavior via text message. But maybe I really am naive and out of touch. Maybe sending pictures of penises is such a common occurrence these days that it doesn’t rise to the level of memorable.
No doubt we’ll know soon enough. If Bolling sent the photo, you can bet someone saved it. Let me say unequivocally that I don’t want to see it. There was a time I might have left that unsaid. Those days are gone.