Mayor Bob Filner of San Diego completed his “don’t sexually harass people” therapy earlier this month. Critics like myself were skeptical that he could really unlearn years of groping, harassing, and otherwise disrespecting women with two weeks therapy, mainly because Filner must have known it was wrong in the first place and just didn’t care. The past week hasn’t done much to persuade us that Filner has been cured. After all, he seems not to have absorbed the most obvious lesson of Don’t Harass 101: How to take “no” for an answer.
Filner has been brushing off more rejections this week than most sexual harassers get to plow past in a lifetime. The locks were changed on his office doors to keep him from returning. Prominent Democratic leaders have been talking about him like he’s a disfiguring wart that needs to be removed. Eighty-one percent of San Diego residents say Filner should resign. The San Diego Democratic Party overwhelmingly voted to call on him to step down. Even Hooters won’t serve him. A recall campaign has launched. A local TV station did a relatively decent job of making the inevitable Bob Filner/”Blurred Lines” mash-up:
None of this seems to matter to Filner. As the now 16 women accusing him can attest, Filner is not one to take a hint. If he can’t—or won’t—step aside when an entire city is standing up to tell him “NO” in bright, flashing lights, how are we supposed to believe that Filner is capable of accepting the more subtle rejections that women employ to shrug off creeps in day-to-day life? If Filner looks at the overwhelming anti-him poll numbers and thinks this is all an excuse to try harder, can we really be sure he’s going to back off when women recoil from his advances? If Filner wants us to believe he’s learned that no means no, he needs to hear the “no” that an entire city is beaming directly into his skull. Be the change you want to see, Bob.