Amid all the latest news of the “shenanigans” of powerful men and pretenders to the thrones of powerful men, what horrified me about the famous Trump bus tape was dredged up all over again. I don’t think that it’s for nothing that one huge wave of revelations after another is crashing down on this topic, and I think it’s directly related to the women’s movement – about what it has and hasn’t helped with since the clarion call for all around “liberation” bubbled up forcefully in the ’70s.
I was a child in the 1970s. What I remember about it was a lot of talk about women being liberated in the sense of going to work, using household appliances to the max to cut down on chores, but most clearly on the art college campuses I grew up on till I was 13, I remember it was also about sex. Having lots and lots of sex outside of the old testament style of it (marriage). Where pornography was all hush-hush before, it was more wink-wink now (one of the campuses I grew up on actually had a porno flick filmed there under cover). Most all the dads kept mags (and/or sex manuals like The Joy of Sex) under their beds or in their closets or dresser drawers, and we ALL knew where to find them from a young age. Groups of boys looked at them together, groups of girls looked at them together. Older siblings were known to have dates with the opposite sex in their top of the house bedrooms when parents were working. Older boys who were siblings or neighbors or schoolmates or kids on the block made comments to girls, and maybe tried stuff on them too. Adults at parties you went to with your parents, neighborhood friends with kids you knew, made inappropriate comments to you, and their children said and did stuff that didn’t seem right for their age. Already? YES, already. Who were they imitating? Guess. This knowledge doesn’t come naturally to little kids. Really little kids.
But you know, it was the “sex-positive” time, and things were out in the open now, and even thought of as “hip,” the thing to aspire to. Running away from this as a young person was something you had to learn how to do. You knew that it wasn’t right, but as a female, you had to just accept that this was how guys are. It’s the world. And wow, was women’s “sexual liberation” a great thing for guys. THAT part of it was a keeper.
When I was growing up, the modern parents, especially the non-religious ones, got divorced. In my educated parents’ circle, it wasn’t tied to physical abuse. Women left marriages because they could earn a living on their own now, and even with children in the mix, the focus when it came to divorce was on the individual’s happiness. Really, there was nothing anymore that was going to keep them working at it even in a non-abusive situation. The thing was to “be in love,” and apparently, you could keep splitting over and over as you found that “love” over and over (sex in a woman’s world is linked with love, it’s how we’re built and function if not abused, it’s what we’re raised with generation after generation).
Many of the children I know whose parents divorced either never married, or got married very late. They were leary of relationships. Their parents placed a lot of emphasis on freedom of choice. They also witnessed strife where it wasn’t in the best interest of the parents to keep their family together, because they had a choice not to. Because there was better “love” to be found in the world. The justification for divorcing could actually be an idealistic thing, searching for the perfect person, believing they existed in the world. “Love” was romantic love. Just like you could get a better job now, you could get a better man now. And for sure, good sex was required and expected to be part of the equation, and you could live together to find out, test drive.
Today, many of the kids my children know are children of broken marriages. Among children, it’s a sad thing to talk about. It’s not easy to shuttle back and forth between your parents, assuming they both have visitation rights. Or to be raised by an “aunt.” But it’s very, very common. Where the divorce mania was starting in my childhood, in my children’s experience, it’s entrenched. Many divorced parents I have met are also children of divorce. The concept of “amicable divorce” is a unicorn. So is the concept, for women, of perfect love, and perfect sex. The older women I have always admired most are the ones who stop the hunt for the unicorn, whether they spend the remainder of their lives in a relationship, or not. The secret is, you have to realize that the kind of princess fairy thingy you were raised with is not what love really is. It’s hormones. But I know many would vehemently object to my, I guess, brutal characterization of what is known of as “love.”
There’s a lot to these subjects and I’m not going to get further into stuff like statistics and studies, but I just want to speak from my own experience, as specific as that is. As a child whose parents have had their own growing pains, but have stayed together. And as the wife of a man whose parents also follow the concept of “stick together through it all” partnership. Neither of our parents were into the whole sexual liberation thing, because they came from the previous generation before Woodstock, and because they’re Catholic. But their feelings about the sexual free-for-all that happened when we were small did not protect us from the insinuations, harassment, and groping that was going on around us. And continued with us into the work world when we were adults. The work world, indeed the adult world, where sex is in advertising every single day, where clothing for women, even designed by women!, has become so thin, so flimsy, and so easy to slip in and out of, where women wear stripper shoes – which they can hardly walk in, bound feet, anyone? – to restaurants. I bet those Calvins would be paper if they were designed for Brooke Sheilds to wear on TV today.
HOW was this an advancement for women’s sexual liberation if you were trying to be viewed by the old men with old ideas who were STILL IN THE WORKPLACE, and the guys they raised the same, as more than an object?? As someone who is an equal in the workplace with a BRAIN and a SOUL to pay attention to, instead of one’s cleavage or butt crack?? I fail to get it. Wearing and designing this shit without addressing those OLD GUYS is like putting a canarie with another canarie stuck to its head in a cat’s path. It’s not helping. It may celebrate women’s sexuality and fine, but only other women can enjoy this show, women with only other women – otherwise it’s used as a justification for predators to do what they do. And hey, when you threw the sexual revolution thing in before that, kaboom!! You can’t get rid of predators like this. You just can’t. It doesn’t work. They can’t handle it. And they need to be handled – with force, male force. Not with this crap.
Thanks for nothing, women’s lib. You’ve allowed the alphas to hijack the show, re-purpose it, right under your noses! And we’re now just short of the point of being dragged into the cave by our hair.