It’s been more than five years since Kevin’s last guest post. In 2012, he wrote about Linsanity. As Election Day is upon us again, here’s Kevin reflecting on last year’s Presidential Election, the patriarchy, and the “Me, Too” movement:
Last November, on the eve of the Presidential Election, I had thought all along that Trump would win, but finally, on the day of the election, I trusted the projections and like most of the country, thought that I was about to witness the election of our first female President.
I was writing a piece about how the election of our first female President would fool us into thinking we had now successfully risen above the patriarchy and sexism.
The result of the election made the piece irrelevant so I never published it, but the sentiment behind it is not.
As a society we desperately cling to flash points to make us feel like we have made progress and conquered another one of our societal demons. For example, there were many who tried to make the election of Barack Obama THE turning point of racial relations in this country. And yes, while we have made progress in race relations since the Civil Rights Era, the senseless and heartbreaking deaths of Eric Garner and too many other Black males at the hands of police tore open hidden fissures in our society and exposed gaping wounds.
The same thing is going on with our attitudes towards women. While Hillary Clinton’s loss took away a flash point to make society pat ourselves on the back with our advancement in the field of gender equality, we have desperately looked for others.
We celebrate female athletes (UConn Basketball, Serena Williams), the staggering attendance at the Women’s March on Washington, or the rise of powerful female celebrities (Beyonce, Oprah, Amy Schumer) in order for us to say that we as a society are going in the right direction. It is a powerful narrative and important because we have improved as a society and the way forward can be seen. But to do so blindly, we miss the areas in which we lack.
The recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly and Billy Cosby reveal an area in which we have racial harmony and bipartisanship. Regardless of your skin color or political party, men have a problem with women. Namely, men like to have sex with women and will use force to get what they want. And while these famous examples are rich and powerful, men of all ages and salary ranges violate women.
Hopefully, this will lead to a flash point to show us not how far we’ve come, but rather how much further we have to go. The “Me Too” movement is a powerful one and hopefully will make an impact on men as the number of women who have been harassed or assaulted is staggering. And while trite, this statement is still true: all men came from a woman. Most women have experienced sexual harassment and/or assault. If society wants this to stop, the responsibility of it wholly falls on us men.
It might seem impossible, but it isn’t. When I was in high school, it was okay to hate gay people. It was okay to call them by whatever slur you wanted to try out, and it was even excusable to threaten to beat up an openly gay person. And those things remained somewhat okay to say during my freshman year at NYU, one of the most gay friendly campuses in the country. But by my junior year, I would NEVER say those things nor did I believe them.
Though it took a combination of personal growth and a gradual societal awakening, it almost seemed like it was decided overnight that we must not say these things. Why can’t this happen for women?
If society, and by society, I mean MEN, could accept that women are people who have the ability to accept or decline sexual advances no matter who they are from, and that calling them sexist, demeaning names is unacceptable, it would go a long ways towards changing things.
And for Olive’s sake I hope we can get there.