In my original post I, ignoring all of common sense and the experience of the entire internet, imagined that people would click through and read the linked Kevin Drum piece, and then perhaps click on the link there as well. I really don’t know what came over me; I must be out of practice or something. As was mentioned in comments to the previous post, Kevin Drum was responding to a NYT article in which it was suggested that hotel housekeepers receive unwanted sexual approaches fairly often in big hotels. It seems to be necessary to be very clear on this; I am merely suggesting that Kevin Drum’s indignant suggestion (that hotels refuse service to guests who repeatedly flash the staff) is indeed a reasonable one. Even threatening to do so would probably bring lots of men around, since it might be a little hard to explain to the boss why you suddenly can’t stay at the Mandarin anymore. From the NYT:
On top of that [their grueling, physically demanding jobs], they [housekeeping staff] have to be sexually accosted by guests? Sadly, yes. And more often than you’d think. It’s not an everyday occurrence but it happens enough to make this question all too familiar: “Mr. Tomsky, can you give the new girl Room 3501 until next Tuesday? That man is back, the one who loves to let his robe fall open every time I try to clean.” So, yes, we assign the room to the new girl.
Now I hate to say this, but I’m pretty sure this is the end of most actual stories along this lines, i.e., give it to the new girl. Per the NYT, though, it’s more like some awesome SWAT thing:
But not before hotel managers roll up to the room, flanked by security guards, to request that the guest vacate during cleaning, or at least promise to remain fully clothed or risk expulsion. Often it need not be discussed in detail: those guests who can’t seem to tie their robe properly usually know exactly what they’re guilty of. Typically, an unsolicited phone call from management inquiring if the service in their room is up-to-standard, and offering to send a manager to supervise the next cleaning, improves their behavior. I remember one exhibitionist guest, in New Orleans, cutting me off before I could get down to business:
“Sir, this is Jacob, the housekeeping manager — ”
“O.K., fine, O.K.!” And he hung up. That was that.
Being flashed is very different from being violently assaulted, but they are on a continuum of unwanted sexual encounters. Also, it’s difficult to believe that a man who gets to that point hasn’t gotten away with quite a lot of other skeezy things in the past, such as exposing himself. Perhaps if M. Strauss-Kahn had had repeated, embarrassing conversations with the male hotel staff in which banning him from further stays was mentioned it would have been salutary.
It also occurs to me if a women left her hotel room door unbolted and someone came in and raped her, the number of times (hint: infinity) she would be told that she should always keep the door locked, and call downstairs to check with the front desk when a male staffer came to the door even in uniform, etc. etc., might make her decide to just not bother reporting the crime.
I thought it was interesting that despite the subject matter, the Times was unable to find a woman to write about the topic, perhaps one who had worked as a housekeeper? Just a thought. I understand that “Jacob Tomsky is writing a memoir about his experiences in the hotel business,” but that hardly seems the most salient concern, unless someone’s agent knows someone. And you may object that most of these workers are recent immigrants, but I see Maureen Dowd’s name out of the corner of my eye oftener than I would like, so it’s not as if having a woman with limited English-language skills on the Op-Ed page is somehow a problem.