His employees have testified that he often made critical remarks about some female coworkers’ bodies—and approving ones of others. He’s been repeatedly accused of sexual harassment. He said in court that he would need an unimpeachable third-party witness in order to believe a woman who claims to have been raped. He’s been credited with jokes that hinge on the idea that women are stupid (“If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of Bloomingdale’s”). And now, rude, crude, skirt-chasing Michael Bloomberg—who, by the way, was not spotted in a library once during his entire campaign—is our mayor-elect.
We don’t really know much about the policy plans of the billionaire poised to take over everything from the city’s Commission on the Status of Women to its Commission on Human Rights, which works to prohibit sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender. The mayor-to-be, a former Democrat, has said he supports a woman’s right to abortion, though he likely wasn’t thinking about choice when he reportedly ordered a pregnant employee to “kill it.”
Even so, we do know some things about the single executive about town, who’s had a string of famous and fabulous girlfriends, including actress and fashion model Marisa Berenson, singer Diana Ross, and currently, Diana Taylor, the chief financial officer of the Long Island Power Authority. The picture that emerges from the little digging done so far is not pretty. He’s got an old-style sexual swagger reminiscent of bygone eras—like seventh grade. (When asked in deposition whether he had “ever made a comment to the effect that [he] would like to ‘do that piece of meat,’ or I’d ‘do her in a second,'” Bloomberg replied, “I don’t recall ever using the term ‘meat’ at all.”)
Even on Wall Street, where such “nice tomatas” stuff is far from unusual, his company has stood out for its frat house environment, where the primary purpose of females is to be sexy. As reported by Wayne Barrett in these pages, women at Bloomberg testified in court of losing accounts and jobs after getting married and having children. All three sexual harassment suits filed against him charged that his company provided “a hostile environment of persistent sexual harassment and the general degradation of women.”
Yet, amid ugly racial division and panic over the plunging economy, these signs that the mayor-to-be is really a creepy sexist were buried—or ignored. Fully 45 percent of women and 52 percent of men voted for Bloomberg, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Media Research. Intriguingly, among women who said their foremost concern was that a mayor “care about people like me,” 70 percent voted for Green and only 26 percent cast their ballots for Bloomberg.
But let’s pretend for a moment that the strangest political upset in city history didn’t happen. Come instead to an alternate New York City, in which a woman holds the highest office. Of course, it’s difficult to imagine a woman in Bloomberg’s shoes—and not just because, in his world, babes belong in spiky, stiletto numbers. Nor because there’s not a woman in this city who has $60 million to spend on buying an election. (And women are the big shoppers, Mayor Smarty-Pants?) No, it’s that women just don’t have the social leeway to get away with his kind of hound-dog behavior.
Consider the explanation of his 1993 divorce from Susan Brown Bloomberg offered in his autobiography, Bloomberg by Bloomberg: “I like to go out and party.” Assume that, within this alternate city, a woman might be elected mayor. Stretch a little farther and imagine that that woman might be divorced. Now, hang on as we zoom into an entirely alien metropolis, and envision this female mayor telling anyone that she “likes to party.”
“Oh yeah, I’m going to party hearty tonight,” Mayor Michelle Bloomingdale might confide in her chum, the female police commissioner. “I mean, who wants to hang around looking at Commissioner Squishy Buns all night? His butt’s flat as a pancake!”
Or imagine Mayor Bloomingdale taking the position on sexual street dynamics attributed to our real mayor-elect. According to The Portable Bloomberg: The Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg, a book of jokes compiled by his employees and laughed off by Bloomberg, the former executive knows “for a fact that any woman who walks past a construction site and doesn’t get a whistle will turn around and walk past again and again until she does get one.” Hey, maybe Mayor Michelle could go down to ground zero and give some validating hoots to those hunky recovery workers.
What happens when Mayor Michelle actually beds one of the many gold-digging guys that flock to her? Referring again to the indispensable Portable Bloomberg, the problems are likely to start the next day. The Bloomberg joke book holds that “I’ll respect you in the morning” ranks as one of the world’s three biggest lies. (Get it? Men say this even though, really, women who have sex are cheap sluts. Ha-ha!)
Never mind that this—um, quip—sounds like something your doddering, 80-year-old uncle might say. It might be okay to have a tin-eared Shecky Bloomberg for mayor if his bad jokes weren’t so clearly a window onto the contempt with which the brutish exec really regards half of New Yorkers.
But back to our alternate city. Poor Herzoner is struggling through an awkward breakfast in Gracie Mansion. Her evening companion is truly easy on the eyes, but when he opens those chiseled lips—sorry, studmuffin, she’s gotta run. Even as she sends him on his way and begins her busy day, Mayor Michelle can take a little comfort. No, she may not respect her lay this morning, but at least she doesn’t have to look at the guy for four whole years.