Yeah, sort of...
Sad but true.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not giving a free pass to men who decide to act like pigs. They are responsible for their own piggishness. Now to be clear, I'm not including rape or sexual assault in this article--that's a very different thing. What I'm talking about is the more common instances of sexually inappropriate behavior, the nasty, icky stuff that people have been getting away with for decades, that is, until now.
And I'm glad for it, that we're finally shining a light on this bad behavior and treating it as the garbage that it is. No one should have to fear entering a work environment or even just an elevator fearing that they might be in danger of being groped or harassed or treated like a commodity.
Why are women to blame? Aren't we perpetual victims of male boorishness and toxic masculinity?
Well, women aren't not fully to blame, so don't get it twisted. Ultimately, men (and other women) have a responsibility to act appropriately and respectfully toward all people they encounter, of both genders. The problem is that society will only fall so far morally as women allow. Yes, women, not men. Even in age when men behaved badly, they still acted to protect and (ideally) cherish women, and sometimes, they actually meant it. Frankly, men behaved badly toward each other, too, not just toward women--they were busy hacking each other to death or taking power away from each other, and while women sometimes got caught in the middle of that Game of Thrones, other men also got caught in the middle.
It used to be, back in the old days that most of us don't remember, that a man would stand when a woman entered the room or approached a dining table or an office. He would tip his hat in respect, and (gasp!) he might even hold open a door for her to pass through first. And women say they have no privilege? Seriously? OK, that's a serious oversimplification, so let me clarify myself.
Let's talk culture, and how women have allowed themselves to be depicted, particularly in this age of Harvey Weinstein, though he didn't start this smarmy culture. All you have to do is look at the picture of Miley Cyrus twerking with Robin Thicke to see what I'm talking about. Miley wasn't doing anything new when she did that performance. Twerking has been around for ages, but it's only recently that it's been mainstreamed, in part thanks to Miley's pop star status. It may not originally have been a hyper-sexualized dance, but thanks to people like Miley, it became that (cultural appropriation anyone?), so that's what we've got.
Why is this considered cool by so many women and girls? Is this some sort of feminist statement that women can be just as overtly sexual as men? Seriously? I've even heard of feminist porn, made by women for women. Is this really what feminism has devolved into? Hey there's nothing wrong with women empowering themselves and beating men at their own game, whether in business, in relationships, or elsewhere. But look at the dozens of sexual encounters in shows like HBO's "Girls" or "Sex and the City," where promiscuity is normalized and even encouraged, all for female empowerment.
On these shows, it inevitably works out somehow. Miranda Hobbs, for example, not only ends up with her Baby Daddy, but it ends up being a mostly supportive, if sometimes fractious marriage. Hannah Horvath also ends well, taking a nice job and raising her baby on her own. Of course, that's on TV, but it's TV that normalizes everything. Miranda and Hannah are educated, upper class, privileged, and thus, they manage to keep their lives relatively in order, even if the critics don't agree or understand. That doesn't translate into the real world, by a long shot.
Once that's been normalized, as it has been now for years, that kind of behavior trickles down to the rest of us hoi polloi, but how has rampant promiscuity treated everyday women? Do we end up with the nice guy (or girl) at the end of the day? Do we end up in our high-priced New York condo, with a nanny and high-paying job, all the while juggling the busy life of a single mom? When the greatest predictor of generational poverty includes dropping out of high school, having a baby outside of marriage, and unemployment, then depictions of this kind of promiscuity graduate from inappropriate to inexcusable.
Women do not benefit from cultural approval of promiscuity, and neither do men. With abortion and contraception so readily available, all a guy has to do is bail on her and blame her for her failure to use birth control properly--after all, don't we believe in freedom of choice? But it's not just the guy's fault. He may acted like a jerk and bailed, but she opened her legs for him in the first place. So is it a shock when she ends up pregnant or with a disease? Does a woman have to fill her body with chemicals just to avoid the burden of parenthood? Add a little free government housing to the mix, and the guy never has to step up. That's not good for women or their children...or their men.
I'm so tired of these excuses of "she didn't know" and "she wasn't sure what to do" and every other excuse under the sun, as if she's some damsel in distress who doesn't know a thing and can't seem to help herself, poor petal. Isn't that ironic, in this age of feminism? How about the word "no"? How about "show me the ring, buddy"? How about "my body is a temple and you are not worthy of entry"? How about women showing some backbone instead of caving to male pressure and then making excuses later on, or crying "rape culture"? How about if women lived up to the feminist promise of real empowerment and independence?
Enter Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken and others (I'm not including Roy Moore, as the allegations involve teens, not adult women), who now have a cultural expectation that any woman who wants to get ahead won't mind a little action. She'll just find a guy groping her oh so hilarious, won't she? But guess what? Yeah, these men are pigs and their behavior is inexcusable, but women have allowed themselves to be treated like this for a very long time, again, to the point where it's normalized. If we think nothing of a woman who has three kids with three guys, then isn't there a cultural expectation of consent? It's not fair and it's definitely not moral, but it's real.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't "slut-shaming." This doesn't mean that a woman deserves what she gets, because she doesn't. But it does mean that women need to collectively expect more from men, and it means that they shouldn't permit themselves to be treated like a sex toy, especially when they're in a position to say "no." Again, I'm not talking about rape or sexual assault or harassment. If women are to do better in the world and really live out the feminist dream, then they need to lay down some new rules for men, to hold men accountable for their behavior, and to hold themselves accountable for how they allow themselves to be treated.
I want all women to cherish themselves and to see their own God-given beauty and grace. Women deserve better than what they've allowed themselves to receive, both from men and from the culture. Let's take that "I'm offended" culture and point it in a healthier direction, and let's call out the culture when it seeks to make the exploitation of women no big deal. But in the end, that means that women have to stop participating in their own oppression.
I'm going to leave this with the feminist anthem, "I Am Woman," by Helen Reddy, because unlike the feminists of today, this song from the 1970s shows a woman's strength and her ability to survive.
witty; cunning; crafty
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