Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sexism and misogyny are alive and well

Don’t ever for one minute get sucked into a state of false belief that sexism, misogyny, and sexual harassment are things of the past, and that women have won all the battles that they need to win. In fact, the battle is just beginning. After getting a glimpse of Trump’s America, I think we’ve been set back by about fifty years. So we need to begin again. We need to raise boys and girls to have respect for each other. We need to remind young adults that NO means NO when it comes to sexual activity, and that no one should ever feel pressured to have sex just to please another person. Male chauvinist pigs like Trump need to go back to the school of hard knocks to get re-educated. It’s not ok to sexually objectify your daughter, your wife, other women, etc. In fact, it’s not just creepy, it’s ethically wrong and illegal if you step over any line in that regard, even if you are married in most civilized societies. Since he seems to have a hard time keeping his pants zipped, it’s no wonder he can’t keep his mouth zipped. I guess there are women stupid enough to fall for his tricks. That’s what always surprises me, the women who come out in support of this dinosaur. Men like him are nearing extinction in my book. They’ve had way too much power and they’ve misused it when it comes to women. I don’t know if women will be any better in the same positions of power, but it sure as hell might be nice to find out. And we will if Hillary gets elected.

You might also think that dinosaurs like these are only an American problem. WRONG again. Norwegian academia has and has had its share of these dinosaurs throughout the past twenty years. Men who comment inappropriately on your looks, men who step over the line physically and verbally at Christmas parties when they’ve had too much to drink, an institute leader (deceased) who saw nothing wrong with patting the rear end of a visiting woman scientist from Brazil. The same institute leader who used to like to corner non-Norwegian women in the elevator to ask them if they knew the difference between ‘fytte’ (used in connection with curse words) and ‘fitte’ (pussy) because if you are not Norwegian, those words often sound alike and you can make a fool of yourself if you pronounce them the wrong way. Another male scientist who regaled his female colleagues with jokes about ‘bushes’, again in the elevator where you couldn’t just escape immediately. The list of sexist, odd and questionable behavior is endless. These are men who enjoyed making women feel uncomfortable so that they could joke about it afterward. These are men like Trump, with a lot of power and no respect for women. Because it's really simple in my book--if you respect women, you don't behave this way. These are men who consistently ignore women in favor of men when it comes time for choosing new leaders or promoting from within, even when those men are clearly less qualified compared to the available women. Men who tell women who get angry about the unfairness and injustice of these types of behaviors that they are ‘unbalanced or psychologically unstable’, or that ‘perhaps they should get some professional help’. Men who joke that these women who get angry just need to get laid. And the women who joke like this about other women are just plain traitors to their own gender. Men have had the power now for eons and eons, and it’s time women took the reins. I don’t know how long that’s going to take, but we’re not going to get there if feminism is defined solely by women who take off their clothes in the name of emancipation (from what or who?), so that they can appear in porno rags and online videos and define these actions as feminist. It might be one definition of modern feminism, but it’s not the major one. They get paid a lot of money for it, however. Perhaps that’s how they think they will gain respect. They will gain money and power, yes, but not necessarily respect. That’s not a given. But perhaps for them, it's enough. I don't know and frankly, I don't care. It's not my definition of feminism and it does not help most average working women to fight the daily battles that they fight in their workplaces.

Oddly enough, if you look at many of the classic films from the 1940s and 1950s, there are roles written for women that are worthy of respect. The female characters are strong, opinionated (think Katharine Hepburn's character in the comedy Adam’s Rib), and they sometimes suffer for their independent ways and strong wills. But they are women to look up to. Many of them work, they are professional, they speak and dress well, and they stand up to and stand their ground with the men in their lives. I can relate to the women's roles in these films, in a way that I cannot relate to many of the modern roles written for women now. How can that be? I am not sure what happened, but respect for women has taken a real nose-dive recently. We need to figure out why and how to fix that. And I think we should start by emphasizing that both men and women have a lot to gain by treating each other with respect, in the workplace and outside of it.

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