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Posts Tagged ‘women’s rights’

Dragons AheadOn my mind is the reformation of sexual norms that is currently underway here in America. I’m far from alone in this. It has to be on the mind of nearly every American male. As each day dawns, it seems, another male icon is hoisted by his own pecker, so much so that “Are all men dogs?” seems a pretty fair question.

Are we? Are all men dogs? All of us?

To a degree, yes, we probably are, as I considered in an earlier post. Between our youthful, lust-fueled idiocy, our penchant for philandering, and the broad-spectrum tales of power-fed sexual predation, the fraction of males who have not, at some point, behaved badly, must be vanishingly small.

This retributive wave has been building since October, and we are now about to enter the zero-tolerance phase. This is completely appropriate, for a time. With something this ingrained—in our culture, in our psyches, and arguably in our DNA—incremental change is largely ineffectual. We males need a short sharp shock to wake us from our testosterone-shielded complacency. As it was with the farmer and the mule, we need to be hit in the forehead with a 2×4 before you can get our attention.

Eventually, we will reach a point where we can discern the shades of grey that exist in these cases, but not now, not yet. In time, we will recognize the difference between a mistake and a pattern, react differently to bad judgement versus predatory behavior, but right now we need to shine the brightest light possible on this dark corner of the human experience. We’re redefining centuries-old boundaries here, and for the moment those boundaries need to be stark and unmistakable. Paradigm shifts are not served up in easy-to-manage chunks.

There is one question that nags at me, though.

Why now?

What was the trigger, the catalyst that got this ball rolling. It wasn’t Weinstein. Weinstein’s outing as a sexual predator was merely the dam breaking. But what first cracked that dam?

Consider the year before Weinstein. Names like Cosby, Ailes, and O’Reilly were regularly in the news for sexual crimes, and women a-plenty were speaking out. Still the dam held.

Then, Donald Trump was accused of sexual misconduct, and even caught on tape bragging about it, but quickly that was pooh-poohed as “locker room talk” and set aside.

In January of this year, we had a Women’s March, with a million “pussy hats” on the National Mall. And still, no break in the dam.

While there was obviously a building wave of social pressure from these events, my curious mind wonders, what was it that turned the tide? What was it, following all the predecessors but before the Weinstein story broke in October, that might have been the turning point?

For my money, it was Taylor Swift.

Now, hang on. Stay with me for a minute on this. . .

In August, Ms Swift testified in her sexual assault trial against a DJ who grabbed her backside during a meet-n-greet photo shoot. Her testimony was rife with quotes the like of which we have not heard in similar trials. She was not tearful. She was not demure.

No. Throughout Ms Swift’s cross-examination she was strong, dignified, matter-of-fact, and resolutely confident. In short, she was wholly impressive. Her unapologetic and unabashed demeanor were inspiring, and if I found her inspiring, I wonder if some Hollywood-types on Weinstein’s list were likewise inspired and spurred to action.

The Swift quote I found most meaningful and powerful was this one, given in response to defense attorney Gabe McFarland when he asked Swift if she had any feelings about the DJ losing his job because of the incident.

“I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault. Here we are years later, and I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are the product of his decisions—not mine.”

That. That right there.

That is equality. That is the end of accepting the shame that others are shoveling at you. That is the sort of inspiring, no-nonsense, table-clearing statement that will put good-old-boys and tongue-cluckers alike in their place.

Now, I have no way of knowing what it was that flipped the switch in this national conversation. Until I hear a better candidate, though, I’m going with this.

k

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Lately, the world has been getting on my nerves, and things that otherwise might roll off my back just…aren’t.

A friend posted a link to Rebecca Traister’s article in the New Republic:

I Don’t Care If You Like It
Women are tired of being judged by the Esquire metric

In it, Traister takes issue with an Esquire article lauding the beauty of 42-year old women. She goes on to take issue with other things as well, such as Marvel’s recent announcement that they’re going to introduce a female Thor, and Harry Reid challenging Mitch McConnell’s assertion that women have achieved parity in the workplace.

I’m not commenting on the article per se nor on the Esquire article when I say that it seems that a man can’t say anything positive about a woman that doesn’t get taken by some as an offense. The ultra-nuanced deconstruction of every comment males make about females is to a certain extent counter-productive, and if men complain (as I’m doing here), they often get lambasted, which is also counter-productive.

do get it. I get the fact that women don’t want to be judged solely by the “Esquire metric” (a metric that gets more and more difficult to achieve the older we get, thus pushing more and more women out of the “acceptable” range as they age). Esquire’s lauding gorgeous, 42-year old females for being, well, 42, female, and gorgeous, is merely applying the objectification standard to a non-standard bracket. I do not consider the Esquire article to be a “step forward” for women. But what about Marvel’s female Thor, which Wired magazine complains doesn’t go far enough? And what about Harry Reid giving Mitch McConnell hell on the topic of gender equity, which Traister says makes her feel “obligated to feel grateful”?

It’s as if we (men) can’t appreciate female beauty, can’t stick up for women, and can’t try to nudge the pendulum of social change in any way toward real gender parity, because whatever we do, it’s too little, too late. We’ve failed before we even start.

When you boil it down, heterosexual men are attracted to women, but there doesn’t seem to be a way for us to express that anymore.

My wife and I were both young and beautiful once (or so she tells me), but now after 30+ years, we’re both old and squidgy. She’s still beautiful to me, in so many ways, and yes, sometimes she doesn’t feel that it is so. Am I to wave her off with a dispassionate “Oh, come on. You know you’re beautiful”?

In my fifty-plus years, I’ve seen women’s issues and rights advance and improve. I’ve also seen plenty of setbacks. And, in a sort of reverse reaction, I’ve seen beauty standards applied to men in a way they never were before, and seen men become vainer and vainer in response. Yay, equality.

But my question is this: In an age where women are seeing their rights, freedoms, and even their safety curtailed by SCOTUS, politicians, and religious leaders, is it wise to slam the actions of those who are actually moving things forward or at least trying to do so? If we condemn the small steps because they’re small, we may never gain any ground at all.

k

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