Michael Muhney, fired from Y&R, but is it fair?

· Culture, Popular culture

Michael Muhney has been accused of groping co-star Hunter King’s breasts, and that has allegedly led to his firing from the top-rated soap, Young and the Restless. I have defended him on my Twitter account, because I think his treatment is indicative of a wider societal problem that I have commented on before.


Since I’m not on the Y&R set, I don’t see any need to speculate on whether or not the allegations are true. For the purposes of this article, I’m assuming they are true, but I have absolutely no idea, and if we are honest, only Hunter and Michael know for sure what the truth of the matter is. Anything else is indeed just speculation.


But assuming he did it, is it a firable offense? I don’t think so. Boys will be boys. A woman who is sexually harassed has a number of options open to her. Handle it herself. This does not always work especially if there is a significant difference in power between the harasser and harassed. This is not really the case here. They are both actors on the same show and although he was there for 6 years and she’s been there about 1, she is not in the position of a maid, for example. Handling it yourself might not work, even if there is equality, though, because the offender might simply repeat the harassment. No one can stop someone from grabbing a part of your body, after all. But a person can make sure they are never alone in the same room with the harasser. Or a victim can get the person in trouble by reporting the transgression to a superior. This seems drastic because a man’s career hangs in the balance. I’m not sure that the punishment fits the crime.


One of the most interesting aspects to the story is the realization on the part of many is that Muhney and King’s late costar, Jeanne Cooper, proudly announced in her recent memoirs that she has been known to grasp the testicles of her costars onset at functions like parties, et. Consider the double standard. Not only was she not fired, but she was proud of her actions and they occurred over a long period of time. She found it amusing and she obviously expected her readers to share the same sentiment; otherwise, she would not have reported what she had done with such glee. I think Muhney has a good defence if this ever goes to trial. He can show that there has been disparity in treatment of the same basic offense. If Cooper was not fired, should he have been? Should Cooper have been fired? I think her offense was actually worse because she did it in actual scenes, so the men she grabbed really had no way of exiting the situation. Muhney and King, as far as I can remember, never share scenes together. Their characters are in totally different orbits. If this case goes to trial, which I don’t think it will, but if it does…I think Muhney’s lawyer should strongly explore this line of argument.


I don’t think Cooper did anything wrong. If a man can’t handle having his testicles gently grabbed, then he is not in my opinion a real man. If he is offended, he can tell a woman to stop. He can make it clear he disapproves of her action. A woman can do the same to a man, although of course the dynamic is fundamentally different. Someone grabbing a woman’s breast is probably a lot stronger than she, which would not have been the case with Cooper and her male costars. Therefore, there is a certain threat that is implied that exists in one case, but not the other.


I think Hunter King has every right to pursue the situation whichever way she chooses. If she is the victim of harassment, it is up to her and her alone how she proceeds with the matter. But in discussing the issue, I think several societal issues come out into the open.


Maybe I have the wrong perspective, but men, especially men in the entertainment industry, are highly sexual beings. If they see an attractive woman, they want to have sex with her. It’s a biological urge which of course they should control especially if they are married, and definitely if the woman in question is not interested. Muhney is an alpha male. For years, he has sought to be dominant in his field. He has questioned the process associated with the Daytime Emmys. He has challenged Eric Braeden, the main male star of the show. He has made it clear that he cares passionately about his craft. I think of him as a real man, one who is passionate about everything he does. If the worst thing he does is grope a woman’s breasts, then I don’t understand all of the fuss. I don’t trust men who don’t misbehave sexually. I think they are probably repressing their true feelings, and that makes them even more dangerous to society.


I don’t think Muhney should be rehired. That would be very strange. But I also don’t think he deserves the backlash that he is receiving, either. If he did what he is accused of doing, then he was merely being a man. Men in our society have gotten a bad rap for decades. This situation has opened up a lot of questions that I hope can be discussed in a fair, rational manner.

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