Last week, the right Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. announced that he would not be “ratting out” his fellow man for the sin of sexual harassment. A Pentecostal minister and member of the New York City Council, Diaz is refusing to comply with his mandatory reporting requirement as a councilman. In an unrepentant interview with the Daily News, he claimed that sometimes “sexual harassment is a compliment,” like telling a woman that she looks nice.
Except that’s not the hypothetical example which incited Diaz’s rant at an anti-harassment training. That scenario involved a superior commenting on a subordinate’s body and making her visibly uncomfortable: a clear case of harassment.
But to hear him tell it, he’s the one being victimized by a “Gestapo”-like mob: “No matter what I say, they’re always going to twist what I say,” Diaz said in a subsequent interview with NY1. “Anybody that commits sexual harassment should be reported. It wasn’t the way they said it. I have been harassed, I have been bullied. Anything that I say, they twist it.”
The next day, Diaz opened a political club named after himself. He’s running for Congress now after failing up like so many beta-males before him, enabled by a Bronx machine that systematically promotes sexist men over qualified women.
Bronx boss Marcos Crespo has had nothing to say about Diaz’s latest outburst, but why would he? Last year, when Crespo’s handpicked candidate for City Council, then-Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, stalked now-Sen. Alessandra Biaggi in the streets with a bullhorn screaming “shame,” at her, he didn’t “rat” him out either.
Biaggi went on to beat Sen. Jeff Klein, a man who allegedly kissed a staffer against her will, and Gjonaj has since blown a kiss like some kind of mobster at a reporter after she wrote a story about him being under investigation for an ethics violation.
That didn’t stop Bronx Assemblyman Michael Blake from seeking Gjonaj’s support in his failed bid for public advocate. Blake is now running for Congress against Diaz, giving voters a choice between an open misogynist and a guy who courts support from them (a third candidate, Councilman Ritchie Torres, is also in the race).
It’s a rat’s nest of patriarchy that extends all the way down to Brooklyn, where Sen. Kevin Parker tweeted a photo of himself presenting a “Women of Distinction Award” to a constituent, who also happens to be a candidate for City Council to replace Jumaane Williams. Williams had to dump Parker from his successful campaign for public advocate after Parker tweeted at a female Senate staffer to “go kill yourself.” Aside from the fact that these “awards” are fundamentally patronizing, they serve largely to help problematic men like Parker appear sympathetic.
Parker happens to be my representative, and has since blocked me on Twitter for pointing this out. Regardless, he still retains his leadership position as the Senate majority whip, even after screaming at and physically menacing his fellow colleagues, most recently Biaggi, and previously state Sen. Diane Savino.
Men covering for each other is nothing new, or even women propping them up. But a broad and growing social intolerance may finally be catching up with them.
Take the 1991 gentlemen’s agreement Joe Biden hatched with Jim Danforth in the Senate gym to conduct a swift Supreme Court confirmation hearing. That not only sidelined Anita Hill, but it set back women’s rights 30 years until the #metoo movement finally burst.
But as Hill herself just pointed out in a New York Times op-ed, women are still dealing with the damage Biden’s boy’s club inflicted in the name of “bipartisanship.” Diaz may seem like an outlier, but when he ran for Council against Amanda Farias, a bold and worthy young woman, she soldiered against him without many of the major “progressive” organizations to back her up.
She’s running again. Let’s see if the rats speak up now.