Friday, October 13, 2017

Sexual Harassment – Bathsheba Syndrome

Musings of a Veteran

For the past few days – the media is full of news of the sexual misconduct of a powerful “Movie Mogul” from Hollywood.

Powerful persons indulging in sexual harassment is nothing new.

Over the years – there have been umpteen news reports about inappropriate sexual behavior by “successful” and powerful individuals in various organizations – politics, corporates, media, bureaucracy, military, academia – everywhere.  

Many “Leaders” feel that they are “entitled” to “sexual favours” from their subordinates – as one of the “perks” of their “success”.

The power they wield gives them a sense of invincibility – and they brazenly start indulging in inappropriate behavior like sexual harassment.

Such unethical conduct can be attributed to the “Bathsheba Syndrome”


The Bathsheba Syndrome is named after King David and his affair with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his Army Officers.

There are many versions of this apocryphal story – and you can read them online on the internet – so – I will give you just the “gist” of the story, in brief.

One night – when King David was strolling on the terrace of his palace – he looked down – and – he saw a beautiful woman bathing on her terrace.

King David desired the beautiful woman – so he enquired from his servants who the woman was.

His servants told King David that the beautiful woman was “Bathsheba” – the wife of one of his Army Officers – who was out fighting the war on the battlefront.

Overcome by desire – King David sent for her – and – Bathsheba came to him – she had no choice but to obey – because – after all – he was the “all-powerful” King.

King David forced Bathsheba into a sexual relationship and started having an affair with her.

King David then ensured that Bathsheba’s husband got killed on the battlefront by commanding his General to send Bathsheba’s husband to the “forefront of the hottest battle” and then retiring the rest of the army – so that Bathsheba’s husband would be surrounded by the enemy and get killed in the battle.

After Bathsheba’s husband was dead – Kind David married Bathsheba – and made Bathsheba one of his wives.


Three salient aspects emerge from this story.

1.  King David used his power to coerce Bathsheba into a sexual relationship and he committed adultery with her. 

2.  He abused his authority to get Bathsheba’s husband killed. 

3.  Then – he used his power to marry Bathsheba.  

There is a saying (attributed to Lord Acton): 

Power tends to corrupt – and – absolute power corrupts absolutely 

The “Bathsheba Syndrome” exemplifies this saying (in the sexual domain). 

A major ramification of the “Bathsheba Syndrome” is “Sexual Harassment”.

Due to Bathsheba Syndrome – some powerful people develop a feeling that it is their right to sexually exploit their juniors.

Ramifications of “Bathsheba Syndrome” include sexual misconduct, adultery, inappropriate behaviour, sexual harassment, sexual assault and even rape.

We constantly see news about powerful people indulging in sexual improprieties.

Such “Sexual Predators” can be seen in all professions – as is evinced by news stories emanating from time to time – “Movie Moguls” – “Media Czars” – “Corporate Big-Shots” – we see sexual harassment cases which are manifestations of the “Bathsheba Syndrome” everywhere.

These “powerful” sexual predators feel that they are above the law – and they shamelessly make sexual advances towards the “objects of their desire” – feeling confident – that their “victims” will meekly succumb and will not dare to speak up.

This silence of the victims further exacerbates the “Bathsheba Syndrome” in the perpetrator and emboldens him to do even more horrendous acts of sexual abuse – even to the extent of sexual assault and rape.

Silence of the “Victims” makes the Sexual Predator feel that he can get away with anything.

An example of this is the recent case of the “Movie Mogul” where the numerous “Victims” of his Sexual Abuse kept silent for many years for various reasons – fear, shame, career advancement etc. – and now – they are suddenly speaking out – after the sexual misconduct of the “Movie Mogul” has been exposed.

Another curious aspect of “Bathsheba Syndrome” cases is that when allegations of sexual harassment are made against a powerful man – the “ecosystem” rushes to protect the “perpetrator” and tries to shame the “victim” by casting aspersions on her character and expressing doubts on her version of the sexual abuse.

You must have observed this “Perpetrator Veneration” and “Victim Shaming” in many “sexual harassment” cases – where “apologists” rush to defend the “bigwig” who was accused of sexual misbehavior while simultaneously trying to tarnish the reputation of the “victim” of sexual abuse.

The Military tends to take sexual misconduct cases seriously (especially “stealing the affection of a brother officer’s wife) and acts promptly against the perpetrators using the “catch-all” offence “conduct unbecoming of an officer” to take disciplinary action against the transgressor.

Women are not the only victims of sexual harassment – even men may be subjected to sexual abuse – in rare cases – by powerful women – or – in some cases – by powerful men with “queer” inclinations who may make unwelcome sexual overtures towards vulnerable men/boys.

You may have seen news reports from time about innocent boys sodomized by perverted sexual predators.

An example of a powerful woman CEO making unwelcome sexual advances on her subordinate in a corporate organization is depicted in the movie Disclosure – an American erotic thriller film produced in 1994 – starring Michael Douglas and Demi Moore – on the theme of Sexual Harassment.

I still remember a quote from this movie:

“…“Sexual Harassment” is not about “Sex” – it is about “Power”…”

Yes – “Sexual Harassment” is about “Power”.

That is the essence of the “Bathsheba Syndrome”.

Dear Reader:

You may have observed examples of “Bathsheba Syndrome” – in society – in your workplace or other organisations – or seen reports on the media – where powerful people indulge in sexual harassment.

During my long stint in the Navy – I did observe a few examples of “Bathsheba Syndrome” – and maybe – if appropriate – I may narrate a few “stories” – sometime in the future.

But – one thing is sure – sooner or later – these “Bathsheba Syndrome” types are exposed for their sexual misconduct – and then – their fall from grace is terrible – they face dishonor – they lose their reputations – they lose all the goodwill they have earned – their personal relationships are wrecked – yes – as we see in the case of the “Movie Mogul” – the fall is devastating. 

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