Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Phallically Burdened

Well goodness gracious, it hardly seems possible that it's been such a big secret all this time that women (A) are frequently devalued and harassed and worse and (B) don't like it, but evidently that's the latest news. Like, we've had five thousand years of recorded history and it's just coming up now.

I don't know why, to take a common yet current example, a man would grab a woman and jam his tongue into her face. I do know that it always comes as a shock--you don't see it coming. And that it's not trivial. It's gross as hell. It feels like you're being probed by an alien, but not in a good way.

Some of us are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore, and others of us have a more nuanced reaction. The really angry, take-no-prisoners women tend to skew younger, in my observation. Some of us elders perhaps have more expectation that things will change. We're having a moment here, and things are going to be different. We base this on having had more decades of seeing things actually change. The degree to which women used to be considered a decorative, inferior form of human can hardly be imagined now. It used to be a staple of comedy that "girls" were to be chased around the boss's desk, or sit around home waiting to be comforted when their cakes fell flat. Our concerns were trivial, and our reactions childlike. We were lesser beings. We were inconsequential.

When I was a kid, I accumulated some forty-plus stuffed animals and every one of them was a male, except for rubber-faced Mrs. Teddybear, who was a hand-me-down. She wasn't interesting. The rest had jobs and hobbies and personalities. Almost none of my classmates' moms worked outside the home. We grew up to be "Women's Libbers." That was a pejorative, but it did get us out and about, and able to have our very own checking accounts, even if we were still expected to cook the brown rice casseroles for the boys running the revolution.

One reason this old broad gives more leeway to certain miscreants than others is that I remember being a part of it all, doing things that shouldn't have been done, going along with things that used to be considered comedic, playing it for laughs. It's well established that I couldn't enter politics if I wanted to because there's way too much shit in my closet. There's not much (and not many) I haven't done. I've got plenty to be ashamed of, if I were inclined that way and had a memory. And even so, I think I'm an okay person with stuff to offer the world. I think some of the men who have something to atone for are, too. Check for signs of authentic contrition: it exists. We need way more women in positions of power in every field, but males should be allowed to evolve. And I trust they will.

I'm not saying my former complicity with the patriarchy is on a par with the unearned, malignant power of the males who exploited it. I don't suppose much of what I did actually hurt anyone. I probably haven't even broken any hearts, except for that one guy back in '71, and he really wasn't emotionally stable, just between you and me.

So yes, I think things can and will change. I never thought people would stop lighting up cigarettes any damn where they wanted. I never though people would pick up dog poop. Yet the air is fresh and I can go months without having to scrape my shoes against the curb.

Many men are now worried that "anything" they might do or say will be misinterpreted. But, guys, it's pretty simple. Pretend, as hard as you can, that women are fully your equals, until it starts to feel natural. And be willing to take no for an answer. It's quite easy to know when a line is being crossed. At least, it is for us. We've negotiated and enjoyed years of friendly banter and flirtation and never had any trouble finding that line. We can feel it. We know when someone is looking right through us and not seeing us. We know when we've been discounted. We know when someone is assuming ownership, is prepared to take possession. When we have a situation on our hands.

Let's get it all out there and put men on notice their secrets are no longer safe with us, and things will change. They will. It's happened before. But let's remember there are degrees of offense. A humiliating or dismissive ass-pat isn't as bad as a forcible kiss. Which is not as bad as rape. Which is not as bad as murder. Which is not as bad as war.

Which is not as bad as plundering a sweet planet and extinguishing its life-forms and enslaving its humans in order to shovel ever more treasure into a few, fat pockets. Focus, people, focus.

36 comments:

  1. Well said, Murr. Your last two paragraphs say everything I'd been thinking on the subject. There is a sliding scale, and Jeffrey Tambor is not so much a bad guy as say, Kevin Spacey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And we can work on all this together without losing sight of the big picture, I hope.

      Delete
    2. Thank you Murr Brewster!!! Very well said & you speak for this Old Broad too!!!

      Delete
  2. I want this to get wider readership. The sailor kissing the nurse is an astonishing, relevant, and meaningful image to consider this week. Truly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Feel free to share! Yeah, we probably won't see many more photos like that these days. Because WE NEVER END A WAR.

      Delete
    2. Someone could post it to Facebook...(lightbulb!)

      Delete
    3. This one's being shared a lot, actually! Although I only know about the shares from my own Facebook friends.

      Delete
  3. This is truly spot on. Love the recommended action for us to take (no longer keep secrets) and, best of all, reminder that this uproar is a diversion for the small percent that want to rape us all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They do, they are, and they will. There are more of us than there are of them, but they've got hold of the politicians, the media, the advertising sector, etc.

      Delete
  4. That picture of the sailor kissing the nurse showed pure joy at the end of World War ll!! I wonder how it's interpreted now?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No need to wonder. There are many articles pointing it out as an assault--which makes people who see it as a joyful photo upset--and both views are true. The nurse in the photo remembers it as a drunken sailor grabbing her out of nowhere and she didn't like it at all. But it wasn't that big a deal.

      Delete
  5. Way back I realize I was lucky to have been associated with the "women's libbers" who opened my eyes and shut my mouth just in time to keep me from ever being a complete ass or worse. I am glad all this is coming out. Now things can begin to take another step toward meaningful change.
    As long as women don't expect to vote or any of those other manly pursuits. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Too bad about those skeletons in your closet. We could use a politician with views like yours....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be fun to run just to see what they dig up. Because I don't remember much of it.

      Delete
  7. The pushback I get from guys is, "Why make such a big deal about it? So i patted your ass. It was a compliment." They are unable to see things from the other person's perspective. And when they have their noses rubbed in it, they assert that it wasn't assault because they didn't mean it as assault. I have also noticed that they hate having the tables turned on them. Few of the ass patters like to be patted themselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really interesting segment on that very thing in last week's This American Life.

      Delete
  8. I wouldn't vote for you,btw. I like you too well to help you into that snakebite. Hooray for your past peccadildoes.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well said, AGAIN. You're making a habit of this, Murr!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am, however, not universally agreed with.

      Delete
  10. I feel like we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater in some cases. Also, if you want to ruin some guy's rep, now would be a good time to make a claim of inappropriate behavior in the past. The pendulum is a little bit off center.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup--probably can't be helped, but it could swing the other way too when the backlash hits. It's complicated being a human.

      Delete
  11. My sentiments exactly Murr, but I could never have said it so eloquently.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh gosh, Gina, were you there the day all the boys in the post office were lined up at the window hooting and looking up at the skirts going by, and we lined up behind them and rated them on how tight their little heinies were when they got on their tiptoes?

      Delete
    2. Well played, Murr, well played :)

      Delete
  12. I had a lovely boss who thought he was complimenting me by saying "I was never attracted to flat chested women until I met you". What was I to do, say "thank you". I didn't.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh holy shriveled ball sacks. How many ways is THAT wrong? Only thing I can say in his favor is maybe he was genuinely surprised at himself and thought for some reason he thought you would want to know.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, yes......he clearly thought I would be flattered. NOT! Of course, these many years later I laugh when I think....if he could only see me now! Still flat and hanging out a lot lower on the chest. HA! Come to think of it...he is probably hanging a little lower too. Snicker.

    ReplyDelete