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Sexual Harassment (A Long And Winding Road To Equality)

I guess its time for me, as I am wont to do, to weigh in on another issue of the time before I go. I will be brief here, only because traditionally this would not be a man’s topic to speak on. (But I guess just saying that identifies my time and place is passing.)

Men and women live a long time. Lots of things change. The way we live, the way we think—even what is accepted as right and wrong. Perception changes with the time. Cultures change. Values.

The issue of sexual harassment and the treatment of women has, perhaps, reached a crescendo that may influence the timely and inevitable change of our culture. Others have predicted it before and yet we slipped back toward familiar patterns, led by the famous and powerful, and reinforced by age-old values.

The three mono-theistic religious juggernauts of our time, Christian, Muslim and Judaism, all embraced paternalistic order in their cultures. Women were subordinate to men, even at times, property. This drove the cultures of Europe and the Middle East and is a prime component even of modern culture in many countries. Of course these were not the only cultures to embrace a paternalistic view of the world. East Asia seemed to embrace it as well, although my knowledge of history in those areas is suspect and I may be wrong. I do know that many Indigenous cultures were maternalistic in their organization and world view, that reality even extending to the original Tribes of Europe before the Roman Conquest. All this I point out only to provide the historical precedent of women as secondary in the previous cultures of those who established these United States.

The Founding Fathers of this Country had great familiarity with the Indigenous Nations of the eastern seaboard and were acutely aware of the power and decision-making authority of the female members of these Nations. Though they did not specifically endorse the equality of women in their treatises and daily life they did tolerate the exceptionally bold and vocal women of their time. They also crafted governing documents that, unbeknownst to them, provided a framework for all americans to one day re-propose the idea of equality for all—beyond the prejudices, bigotry and traditions of their time.

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. The ideals and realities of those days informed my beliefs, my world view, and my behavior toward others, especially the women around me. Feminism was just beginning. Women had the vote but were virtually unrepresented in the power structures of society. The sexual revolution came about somewhat after our ideas as young men were formed and we retained much of the paternalistic ideals and practices of our forebears. While mouthing support for Feminism and female power we still practiced what had come before in our behavior toward women, and what we thought was acceptable behavior toward them.

One has only to binge watch the most popular sitcoms of that time, 1960 thru 1979, to find evidence of the pervasiveness of these perceptions and practices. One can find example after example of jokes and behavior that today would be identified as examples of severe sexual harassment and the belittling of women, portraying them as primarily as sexual objects for the gratification of men.

I was from that time. So was nearly every other man who grew up then. All of us were guilty, at one time or another, perhaps often, of these types of thoughts and behavior.

As time has progressed, so have we, at least many of us. We have come to see that behavior as wrong. We have changed. The Generations that succeeded us came to it naturally, while we have had to be dragged into change. That’s the way it is with every older generation, questioning the new, pining for the old, wishing to slow the change of the world and our inevitable passing from it.

But I agree that now is the time to recognize what is right and what is wrong. If we believe in equality we must believe the women. We must encourage their movement to reach into the halls of power of every venue and achieve balance and harmony with their male counterparts. It should be them who decide the fate of those of us who came before. Life is never fair, but we should strive toward making it better, and in making it better, making it Just.

Our culture has a long way to go. We are seeing the last desperate gasps of racism, paternalism, bigotry, Anglo-privilege and power all around us. Only by replacing men with women to find a balance at every level of our culture and society as well as government, business, and service industry management will we reach the goals of equality we have come, often by a hard road, to cherish–and to establish that “more perfect union”.

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James BlueWolf

3 comments to Sexual Harassment (A Long And Winding Road To Equality)

  • Our culture indeed has a long way to go, but it has to go further than simply “replacing men with women to find a balance.” For example, there are plenty of women who support the likes of Judge Roy Moore, no matter how credible the charges of sexual predation against him. What is the good of replacing men with women who are as ‘bad’ as the men they replace? The greater priority is to replace corrupt men with women OR men of greater character and moral integrity.

  • markscheel1

    James,

    Muse, I think, makes a good point. But I would go further. Men and women are fundamentally two different creatures, biologically and psychologically. Women have the–may I say it?–the “God-given” traits to nurture offspring that men simply don’t possess. I think a logical, reasonable case can be made that men and women have been assigned by nature different roles in the preservation of the human race. Now, that flies in the face of everything so-called “feminism” wants to promote today. But much of hard-core feminism is really what Freud called “penis envy.” Men and women both deserve “equality” before the law, but in many other areas the division of labor is naturally called for. Women in power can be just as corrupt and dictatorial as men. The Nazis and Hillary Clinton demonstrated that. So, I’m of the older generation, but that doesn’t make us wrong. Chaucer answered the question, what do women want?–power over men. So watch out! As for what we’re witnessing today, judging anyone in the court of public opinion when it’s simply politically expedient to do so is wrong. Okay, that should bring on the “hate mail.” LOL 😉

    Mark

  • James BlueWolf

    Obviously I disagree with Mark on a number of the assertions he makes. Many Native Nations gave women more-than-prominent roles in their decision-making and did not suffer the corruption or “drive for power” he mentions. On the other hand it is true that as women take the reins in the modern world there have been, and will continue to be, those who suffer these charcter flaws. I also assert that the “naturally different roles” of men and women are not as defined and relative to biological differences as they are to learned cultural behaviors. In the animal kingdom we see many examples of reversed roles and I am not convinced that the traditional 19th century assertions of Manifest Destiny don’t have the same roots as these beliefs that men and women have been assigned different roles in the preservation of the human race. I also think you will find the percentage of American women that would support a man like Roy Moore for anything to be very small indeed. Finding a harmonious balance in government and business can only result in a greater improvement in understanding of what is acceptable behavior and what is not. But Muse is right- the answer lies in character and moral integrity.

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