In matters of male-female relationships, my working-class brother is fond of saying, “It isn’t the bulge up front that counts – it’s the bulge in back.”
Judging a man by the size of his wallet is kind of like measuring a female by her cup size. Except now it’s a lot easier for a woman to enlarge her breasts than it is for a man to raise his income.
And it’s a lot easier for some women to make a grab for the bulge in back.
Why shouldn’t the Harvey Weinsteins, the Kevin Spaceys, the Charlie Roses have to pay? They can afford it.
Can the rest of us?
So much is being made about this “national conversation” we’re supposedly having. The media have targeted some easy villains – rich, white, male celebrities. These famous men will go through whatever treatment sounds good, pay off their victims and donate to appropriate charities.
The recent scandals keep revisiting Donald Trump’s old Hollywood Access video where he is caught talking frankly about females: “When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
For all the outrage directed at Trump, there has been little criticism aimed at the women who are so besotted over famous men. There’s boasting in Trump’s comments, but there is also an element of surprise, as if even he can’t believe it – “they let you do it.”
Years ago a Democratic friend of mine was elected to the California State Assembly, a position of some note. He went to Sacramento, lined up an apartment and attended some introductory get-togethers for new legislators. He told me later:
“They say your social life can be whatever you want it to be!”
Translation: Females will now throw themselves at you.
Even a little bit of power can be a great aphrodisiac. Imagine the lure of serious power and celebrity. Had Bill Clinton been the White House janitor, would Monica Lewinsky have gone down on her knees for him? No way.
There are legitimate reasons for this. Until relatively recently, women didn’t have the same economic opportunities as men (and still don’t in many cultures). Females are biologically wired to seek out good providers, just as males are biologically wired to seek out the young and fertile. Politics – passing new laws – isn’t going to change biology.
The feminist revolution of the 1960s-70s morphed into cultural changes that aided and abetted the Harvey Weinsteins and Charlie Roses. Look at what became popular entertainment. Young women could be as lewd and lascivious as men like Weinstein wanted them to be.
In her 2005 book, “Female Chauvinist Pigs,” writer Ariel Levy explores women and the rise of raunch culture.
Levy attended Wesleyan University in the 1990’s. When she visited as a high school senior, she was taken to a Naked Party.
“I remember giant crepe paper penis and vagina decorations. Group sex, to say nothing of casual sex, was de rigeur. By the time I was in college we heard considerably less than people had in the eighties about ‘No means no,’ possibly because we always said yes.”
We now have more women occupying important roles in our major institutions – law, academia, medicine, business, media, politics – than at any other time in American history.
Part of the “national conversation” should address this question: How come things haven’t gotten better with so many more women in power? Last century we figured out that Father doesn’t always know best. Could it be that neither does Mommie?
Levy’s book includes one reference to Trump. It’s in a section on reality TV and women’s eagerness to bare all:
“NBC’s smash The Apprentice, a show that supposedly hinges on the financial acumen and professional cunning of America’s future business leaders as assessed by Donald Trump, culminated its first season in a thonged flurry of exhibitionism when four of the show’s female cast members appeared in their underwear in the May 2004 issue of (For Him Magazine). For free. As Trump put it to Larry King, they ‘did this for nothing. Perhaps that’s why they didn’t win the contest.’”
Of all people, even Donald Trump understands the importance of women valuing themselves.
In the 12 years since Levy’s book was published, America’s raunch culture has only gotten raunchier. (Imagine what Levy would make of Portland’s “Hump!” Festival.)
It’s too bad America’s feminists couldn’t muster the same outrage against their own complicity in raunch culture that they have shown in their giant hissy-fit since Hillary Clinton lost the race for president.
Now we have these sexual harassment scandals rolled into one huge, misguided outrage. The males and females involved should be regarded as individuals – not as representatives of entire groups.
Roy Moore is not Al Franken. A man in his 30s, who preferred the company of teenage girls, should rightfully be challenged on his character now that he wants to be a U.S. senator. But spare some distaste, too, for America’s obsession with youth.
Franken’s photo of him pretending to grab Leeann Tweeden’s breasts while she slept isn’t even shocking in the context of the entertainment business.
I had never heard of Tweeden so I googled her and found young photos of her showing off her breasts in see-through tops. No wonder Franken thought she would be game. Tweeden needs to acknowledge her own contribution to raunch culture. Her sudden embrace of innocent victimhood probably has more to do with her now middle age. She knows her foxy days are coming to a close.
If any of these high-profile cases trickle down to ordinary, working-class men and women, it might be as a reminder to employers that they are vulnerable to lawsuits if anything approaching sexual harassment occurs. This could also make employers more apprehensive about hiring young women or having men and women sharing a work place.
Most likely the sexual harassment scandals will devolve into a boring rerun. Something new will come along to capture the media’s and the public’s imagination. (We’re overdue for a pandemic. And North Korea has threatened to launch a nuclear attack on the West Coast. That would take American minds off sexual harassment.)
Ultimately, if history is any indication, not much is likely to change.
Last month, I joined other procrastinators who crowded into the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry for the final day of “The Last Days of Pompeii,” an exhibit of artifacts from the ancient Roman city destroyed by a volcano.
It could just as easily have been called “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in Pompeii.” Most of the artifacts that had been cleaned up to show off were from the wealthy. The poor, after all, didn’t own much.
The most depressing part of the exhibit was a section of artifacts and a video reconstructing life in a Pompeii brothel, “where men went to buy love.” (Would it have been too offensive to honestly say “where men went to buy sex?”)
The video tried to recreate a day in one particular Pompeii brothel. This brothel had been home to 20 females and had been run by two men, Africanus and Victor.
Two male pimps and one of them black — in 79 AD.
How 21st Century.
– Pamela Fitzsimmons
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