Fighting Sexual Roles

I saw this meme on Facebook today and it made me think.24775259_1853122084730179_8114016821816398901_n

Our society pushes these stereotypes and it’s up to us to reject them as well as to protest when someone tries to force us into those roles or shame us for not following those roles.

Insulting men who cook or clean is common, and some men refuse to learn not because they are spoiled brats but because they’re giving in to peer pressure that calls them pussies for doing housework.

And women face the same problems, being insulted for not being “lady-like” when they enjoy fixing cars or building things.

My wife, award-winning artist Heidi Hooper, faced a lot of that in her past, especially when we were younger, growing up in the south, and dealing with long-held stereotypes. Being told women can’t do metalwork made her study metal sculpting. And there were many times when we’d go into a hardware store and this would happen:

Clerk: Good day, sir, can I help you find something?

Me: (points to Heidi)

Heidi: Yes, I need (obscure tool I know nothing about).

Clerk: (glances at me, concerned, turns back to Heidi): What do you need it for?

Heidi: I know exactly what I need it for. Now where is it?

Society pushes us and pressures us into these stereotypes and it’s up to us to refuse to be placed into these neat little boxes. But, depending on your family, religion, and other factors, it may be harder for some than others to break out of the mold.

So don’t necessarily insult men who fall into the stereotypes and don’t know how to do basic housework; instead, encourage them and let them know it’s all right to do these things.

Unless they really are spoiled brats who are just using it as an excuse. To Hell with those guys.

The lesson for those with honor

If you’re honest and sorry and accept blame for what you’ve done, you will do the honorable thing and resign.

If you refuse to admit you’ve been wrong, blame your enemies, and behave in an amoral way, you get to keep your job and may even get elected to prominent positions.

This is the contradictory lesson our leaders are sending us.

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Al Franken resigns for inappropriate touching, almost all of which was in public with witnesses while pictures are being taken, while on the GOP side, people who have committed the kind of creepy crimes that would normally place one on sexual offenders’ lists are promoted by the party.

I’m getting tired of playing by the rules and doing the right thing while political opponents are playing by different rules.

They’re like the bullies laughing at us do-gooders while they destroy us behind the scenes. You can’t win the game if they’re playing hardball while we’re playing softball. I’m just tired of having the sand kicked in our face and replying by turning the other cheek. All it does is make them kick us harder next time.

While I think Franken should have been censured and perhaps removed of a few important committee assignments, I can also understand his dilemma:  Had he stayed on, there would have been an investigation and the Republicans would have milked this for everything they could in order to destroy him and the Democrats (while completely ignoring their own more serious transgressions because, of course, they are all flaming hypocrites).

So perhaps leaving and setting an example was the best thing he could do, because, if nothing else, it allows the Democrats to be the party of morals and “family values” for the 2018 election.

Sexual Assaults are about power

These sexual assaults accusations aren’t new. They’ve always been happening. I don’t think there are more of them happening these days. I just think Trump’s election was the point where women finally said “We’re not going to take it any more.”

Do not discount how angry women are that a proud molester is in the White House.

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illustration by Matt Bors

The bottom line though is that this isn’t really about sex — it’s about power.

No woman is impressed when you send her an unsolicited dick pick, or grab her without her consent, or perform a sex act in front of her. That’s not how you start a relationship. That’s how you show your power over her.

In a sense, it’s like rape, which is an act of violence more than an act of sex. It’s when the abuser treats the victim as less than human, less than deserving of respect. Yes, the abuser may be getting his (or her) jollies off, but the fact that some people get excited over abusing another against their will doesn’t make it just about sex.

The other problem is that for many generations, this was just the way things were, and few people questioned it.  TV shows and movies had bosses chasing secretaries around the desk and it was played for laughs. And men grew up thinking that was just the way things worked.

But society has changed. It was never right but now people know that.  And the men who refuse to acknowledge that change are the ones who are getting caught and are surprised.

But that’s no excuse. It’s like when people say, “You have to excuse grandpa’s racism, because he grew up in a separate era.” No, grandpa’s inability to change with society’s norms is inexcusable. Plenty of other people his age were able to adjust just fine.

And many men are surprised at these new revelations, because they have apparently never spoken to a woman before; every woman I know can give examples of where this has happened to them.

“But there’s so many!” they say. “We can’t just fire every man who has abused his power in a sexual manner!”

To which the rest of us reply, “Why not?”