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Not All Sexual Misconduct Is The Same: Why Lasseter Is Not Weinstein

Larry Mendte
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Larry Mendte
Not All Sexual Misconduct Is The Same: Why Lasseter Is Not Weinstein


We’ve lost House of Cards, Louie, Charlie Rose and now Toy Story ?!?! Is nothing sacred?

If you haven’t yet heard, John Lasseter, the writer and director of the Toy Story movies has taken a leave from his role as Disney’s chief creative officer after allegations that he gave unwanted hugs and kisses to young women at Pixar, the animation company that Lasseter co-founded and Disney purchased.

Everyday the sexual misconduct wheel of shame spins and where is stops nobody knows. We see the names in the headlines and assume they are all equal in the same bucket of scum. They are not.

It is important to separate the allegations by severity and realize that some are criminal and can result in a long jail sentence; some are reprehensible and can result in career termination; and many are just inappropriate and can result in a slap in the face.

For instance, Harvey Weinstein and Bill Clinton are accused of rape. In most states, anything that involves sexual penetration or attempted sexual penetration is rape or attempted rape. It is a class one felony and has a separate designation in the criminal code as “rape” in some states, or it can be given the most serious classification of the sexual assault charges.

Not All Sexual Misconduct Is The Same: Why Lasseter Is Not Weinstein

In most states sexual assault is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of unwanted sexual acts, “unwanted” being the key word. According to the United States Justice Department, sexual assault is “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” In most states this includes rape, fondling, groping, and attempted rape.

If the accusations are true, Senator Al Franken and former CBS anchorman Charlie Rose are guilty of sexual assault.

RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network, has a comprehensive database on the rape and sexual assault laws in every state.

What about Louis C.K., who admits to exposing himself and masturbating in front of women? That is indecent exposure, which is a misdemeanor in most states, but it can be a felony, if you are a serial offender, like Louis C.K. If the offender touches the victim while pleasuring himself, then it can become sexual assault.

And finally, we come to John Lasseter, the excessive hugger. This is a little trickier. According to Variety, the Disney execs penchant for excessive affection to his fellow employees, especially pretty young women, was an open secret.

Lasseter is accused of sexual harassment and wrote an apology to the staff for his legendary hugs.

One former employee told Variety that she got a heads up before starting her job at Pixar in the late 90’s “Just be warned, he likes to hug the pretty girls,” she said she was told. “He might try to kiss you on the mouth.”

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC, the agency that enforces discrimination laws, says sexual harassment is “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical advances of a sexual nature.”

The U.S. courts recognize two types of sexual harassment in the workplace: quid pro quo harassment or abusive work environment.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment would be requiring an employee to acquiesce to sexual advances in return for favorable treatment. A classic example of this is actress Dawn Dunning’s allegation that Harvey Weinstein showed her a contract for three films, but said he would only sign them if she agreed to have three-way sex with him.

There are no claims that Lasseter made such demands of the employees he kissed and hugged. The New York Times points out that the animation giant is an exuberant, larger-than-life, personality who hugs and kisses everyone, men and women alike.

Unless there is more to this story, Lasseter may one of the few powerful people whose career may survive this sexual harassment awakening.

After his sabbatical, and therapy, Disney very well could allow him to continue his work on Toy Story 4, provided he can control the hugs and kisses.

The media and the public have unfairly dumped all of the powerful men accused of sexual misconduct into the same basket of irredeemable deplorables. Let the John Lasseter case serve as an example that all allegations of sexual misconduct are not the same.

Each case should be judged by the severity of the allegations. John Lasseter is not Harvey Weinstein, and George H.W. Bush is not Bill Clinton.

Credit for Graph : (Data: Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network; illustration: Élishia Sharie) 
Image credit: LA Times