#MeToo, Sex, and the Arts

It was an introductory class in the marketing of websites under a company I was with in 2003. Relatively new to Southern California, I drove beyond the comfort zone of my city past the county line to train with the specialist. Tall and thin, the man looked to be in his 30s and welcomed his guests as we signed in at the foyer. About twenty of us filled his living room. His last name was Thompson.

I had some questions after the session. Almost everyone had left and his wife came downstairs. I remember being a little surprised at the sight of the Taiwanese woman, in part for her short, compact frame, in part for the accent, as they somehow didn’t add up to someone I’d pictured for the spouse. At some point the one or two other women who mingled had left and the three of us talked in the kitchen. While Thompson shared a bit about his life and their trip to Taiwan some years before, his wife reached for some duck eggs. He paused to grimace and wrinkle his nose, making fun of her fondness for them. I thought it rude of him to do that – in front of company – no less. One felt no love lost between the couple as she rolled her eyes and shuffled back upstairs with her meal. And she obviously couldn’t care less about leaving him alone with a woman. He wanted to show me some artwork of his. When I obliged, he sidled up to me on the island, leaning in close so that we touched as he turned the pages of a small album. He had talent, from the looks of the female breast sketched so meticulously. I made myself scarce.

Since he was the only website trainer within distance, I had to email him the technical questions I still had so I could do the work I paid to train for. He said he would have to show me on my computer, in my home, in the evening. Had I given the impression that I was stupid? Just what did he think I would do with him – or worse, what did he hope, without consent, to do to me? Distraught, I shared the email with a male friend. Since Thompson was a private contractor, not an employee at the company, he wasn’t under official supervision and therefore not accountable to authority in any strict, legal sense. While it remained within my rights to pursue this particular line of work, it fell to me to pass it over if I wished to preserve my sense of safety. As I searched my inbox for the hair-raising email to share with you, I slowly remembered wishing to rid myself of his greasy handprints and deleting it. Wanting every bit of him out from under my skin, I also tossed the closing thread in which I’d told him how uncomfortable he made me and in which he dissembled like a snake, claiming no unworthy intentions.

So of course I am gratified to watch the Harvey Weinsteins earn their due. It’s been said of Weinstein that it wasn’t about sex but power. I say, more pointedly, sexual harassment and abuse are about boundaries and how one feels entitled to help oneself to someone’s space. The predator remains deaf to all words (No) and feelings but his (or her) own. Does the Holocaust ring a bell? Of course the face of it, the expression of the narcissistic compulsion, looks different. But at root, any kind of blind, forceful imposition is like another. What we have is basic disregard for human dignity.

I could go on about other instances in which I have felt demeaned or exploited, but I fear it would get very repetitive. Then again, that’s part of the point. I never talked about these things publicly because, as a woman, it has always felt like I may as well have been talking about the weather. Stories like these have never been taken seriously. Women are shamed, told they are uptight, nasty, bitter, can’t take a joke, are too sensitive. And the men? Well, if they’re lucky, they might get elected President.

My hope is that Hollywood makes itself an example and decides to enact real change, change that would allow women of all ages and ethnicities the freedom to tell their stories—to write them and direct them and trust that people care. I hope that young women will one day no longer feel that they have to work twice as hard for less money and recognition, backward and in heels. ~ Molly Ringwald, The New Yorker

Unfortunately, Molly, in a business where your physical features are your résumé, you will always have the Weinsteins who can’t keep themselves from the cookie jar.

So why are women in particular prone to this dishonor? At a most basic level, we are obviously physically more vulnerable than the men. Please, I have met my share of UFC women with more brawn than the guys bench pressing but clearly they don’t outnumber the male race on any given day. The relative weakness of women is not a value judgment but a part of the attraction, no? I imagine if I had the mass of the Hulk, I wouldn’t have had to worry about Thompson. The feminist outrage against sexual harassment and abuse is in itself a confirmation of our vulnerability even as we claim our power. And so trailing the storm over women’s rights as it rounds the corner into the world of art where LGBT champions are staking their place, I find myself wondering if we are about to topple 5000 years of appreciation for the female form right alongside the Weinsteins. Rightly so, the feminist dam has burst in the world of the visual, performance, and written arts over the century. But what of poetry today that embraces homemaking or the woman’s body as a vessel for receiving a man? The plain logic of our physical design has become a regressive notion. Is the pleasure we afford men an archaic vice in public discourse? In a poem about myself as wife and mother, I’ve said:

I would become
food, grass, lake, playground

Are such pictures no longer politically correct? Yes, women have lain as doormats in their homes for thousands of years but many have done so willingly, offering themselves as gifts to their family. In the war cry for our rights, women may forget our license to give ourselves up for the taking. Where there is love, that is a power and beauty. Will we someday ban Pride and Prejudice in the schools? After all, it perpetuates skewed, patriarchal ideals of femininity. In all the sophistication of hard-won feminist ideals, I fear we will lose sight of the timeless discussion on the vulnerabilities and liabilities of womanhood and gender.

Remember, an open mic allows for all voices.

124 thoughts on “#MeToo, Sex, and the Arts

    • Humanity, the whole species, is desperately in need of a new paradigm, and it will probably be ushered in by the act of women claiming our right, and in so doing, our power – to choose. Wars don’t work. Victimizing anyone does not serve the species. Let us stop choosing to be doormats. I was one. It didn’t work well for me. After 2tries, I quit the old rules and became a firefighter, then a Paramedic ER caregiver, where I could have a life, not just live in the shadow of somebody else’s just because I was a woman. Stand up, women. We are smarter, have more efficient bodies, and greater inner strength than anybody yet has seen. Get up. Speak up. Yes, you. You are capable fo so much more than you know.

    • It is apparent that women are not always offended by WHAT a man says to her in the workplace, but rather WHO the man is that says it. If she likes the dude it is flirting. If she doesn’t, it is harassment. While i hate men taking a no to mean yes or just harass anyone they like, this discussion divides us. Marriage is down. relationships are down. births are down…but the fight goes up. some women in Hollywood did what was necessary to get to the top of the heap. No one is equal. Some people are intelligent, some not so. Some people have more brawn than brain. Some people are thin, some not. To generalise that we should all be equal is a farce. One thing I fear more than anything else is “Mob Rule”. The origins of feminism was all about bringing the men safely home in WW1. It got out of control. I have respect for people who deserve respect. Women in power can be as evil as men. Lets take men and women out of the equation and put in its place “PEOPLE”. I don’t want to be divided and fight. Men vs women…blacks vs whites….them vs us…terror vs civilities…list goes on and on adnauseum adinfinitum. The new meta should read “STOP PEOPLE GETTING POWER”. If I was a woman that got harassed, I would sort it there and then…or if you have fear of harassment, don’t put yourself in danger. My bad stops at perving secretly….LOL Cheers

  1. I enjoyed reading your post, this morning. The latest events that have taken precedence are very disturbing from many angles. The discussion of resolve will take about as long as this behavior has been around. You are to be commended for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Thank you. John

  2. Thanks for your honest and vulnerable exploration of this difficult topic Diana. I’m sorry that you’re among the metoo group.There is no doubt that things need to shift, but how and what? Can we honor the differences, appreciate feminine qualities without taking advantage of them? I also believe more empowered women leading this world from a place of love and compassion would help moderate the excess male, controlling energies.

    • Well put, Brad. And I appreciate the thought on the energies. We swing pendulums in politics and culture (even in law), and I hope we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. While I can’t and don’t appreciate the female form and attributes from the male perspective, there is much to be said for feminine beauty and it would be a shame to politicize that away.

  3. An open floor allows for all voices. I love that. Frankly I am a bit leery of discussing this matter for fear of being unfairly tarred with the same brush as Harvey Weinstein, a very real danger in this time of raw nerves and burning questions.
    There is a gray area in this whole mess but no one seems to be looking at it very hard. At its extremes, there are forcible rape and “Nice glasses, where did you get them?” and pretty much every complaint falls somewhere in between. So, where’s the justice?
    Lisa, that girl in the seventh grade who caused me great emotional distress for the best part of a year by humiliating me in front of the whole class for having the temerity to harbor a crush, certainly doesn’t deserve to have her whole life come crashing down around her ears. That wouldn’t be just. I’ll never get so much as a half-assed, insincere apology for that but, after forty six years, I can let that go.
    In that same way, I don’t believe that everyone who says “Me too” has been so irredeemably broken that they can only be made whole by breaking the one who wronged them, often breaking the ones who loved (him) in the process. I doubt that part will get much traction in the press, but it’s a fair bet that it’s happening.
    Well, thank you for a really good post and an invitation to have a rational discussion about a really touchy subject.

    • You’re right. A lot of gray. I did think about the poor fellas who simply admire a beautiful woman from the office. Yes, there’s a lot of angst and anger i the air. And no, I wasn’t so broken, as awful and unfair (in the opportunities denied me) as it all was for me. But it’s terrible to think of what Thompson had done before and after me, and there are many women who go years (esp after something so traumatic and life-altering as rape) struggling to cope in self-defeating battles with things like eating orders. One lady being interviewed on NPR said men – some, friends – have come up to her in absolution, awakened to old wrongs (against other women) from all the sirens raised.

  4. A powerful and thought-provoking post Diana. I graduated with a degree in Women’s Studies over 20 years ago and we were talking about this then – I actually recall an ‘amusing’ article in the uni magazine by a man suggesting that giving a woman a bunch of flowers was being equated with rape. It strikes me powerfully how some of the comments I’ve heard in recent weeks are nothing new and yet they’re being talked about as though it were a surprise. I’m pleased that it’s being talked about now, but I’m perhaps pessimistic that any lasting change will come out of it.

    • It seems a new global awareness has come to pass on the issue with a fresh intolerance for such breach of boundaries. That is wonderful. But yes, the question now is what exactly constitutes a breach, in some cases? Thanks for the thoughtful read, Andrea.

    • An optimist among us. =) I’ll take it. Look at the civil rights movement. Yes, it’s done some reverse moves as of late in the U.S., but on the whole the past century saw changes that nonwhites could only dream and pray for two hundred yrs ago. Thanks, Michele.

  5. I do love the optimism of Michele Anderson. May I suggest that we not wait for the changes she aspires to, before we begin to effort the necessary to end all wars forever, for this planet’s survival.

  6. Terrific article by the way. I do love your line, part of which being… “the woman’s body that is unarguably a vessel for receiving (a man)? Though I see and appreciate the poetry of this compose, I can’t help but at once think of the vessel you refer to not only receives but more importantly gives much, and to say the least, gives life!

    • Right, the dual function of the vessel. Those of us who’ve had the privilege of experiencing both would call the giving pains all a joy. It is as I was recently considering submitting some poems to a women’s magazine that I realized the editors might be biased against them for such “archaic” notions, women’s groups often being progressive as they are.

      • How sad, that in this day and age, the ugly side of archaic, is alive and well, when it should be dead been buried long ago, with they who perpetuate its ugliness.

      • I haven’t. =) I realized the types of poems I mentioned having written would probably be accepted elsewhere! I in fact earned a distinction (a mild paradox, I know) in an int’l poetry contest. I appreciate the encouragement.

  7. I was coincidentally writing about Pride and Prejudice. Oddly the only character that could be accused of unwanted advances is Mr. Collins and he was only doing what was expected of him by society. I encountered some form of unwanted sexual advance at just about every place I worked and I have seen women lose their careers for reporting it. If it affected my ability to work, I’d just quit and move on. I’m glad women are coming forward but hope the pendulum doesn’t swing too far.

    • Pendulums always swing, don’t they? If I could’ve, I would’ve reported him. And that is definitely a problem where women are stymied in our work or even losing it for speaking up. What a world.

  8. Oh man. How to respond. You know I’m a thinker. I did not put #Metoo on anything, despite having plenty of stories. Because–of course. Any woman who’s really been out there in the working world knows this drill. I was just too tired to touch it, I guess. But, I have always felt the strongest women are able to be tender when and where appropriate–and that fact should not diminish their strength. Just as their strength should not diminish a strong man finding them fetching.

  9. This is an awesome post. LOL, I just wanted you to know I read it! I clicked “like” having nothing much to say at the time, and than remembered all those “likes” leave you with no way of knowing I’ve actually been here. You probably can’t see me nodding my head in agreement either? Of course not. 🙂

    • You took such pains to show me you read it. LOL. Your credibility was never in question, you know…ha ha ha. But I confess: I thought of you…and guessed you’d approve. *wink* Isn’t that funny how we get to know people here?

  10. I cringed reading your post, Diana. I felt like Iinsanitybytes22 (above) because I, too, clicked ‘like’ and the left. But, no, I had to come back. I think so many of us have horror stories like this, that we just buried or like you, wished to rid from under our skin. Shame all of this took so long to come out, but you can’t stop it now and for that I say about damn time!

    • It definitely is great that it’s gained worldwide traction. Hopefully we can have sane conversations and reconfigurations of institutional power, throw water on the blazing witch (wizard) hunts, and stop giving slimy creatures the presidency.

  11. I’d suggest that there are many, many men who have also offered themselves as gifts to their family, making different sacrifices and providing different benefits. I value and appreciate your thoughts in this post. I really do. I will never know what women go through at the hands of men (although I was sexually harassed by a female supervisor when I was 23) and I will never know what it is like to be a minority in America. But … there is an element to so much of what is written on these topics these days that wants to focus on only one side of the equation, when the only part of the equation that should matter is this. We are all human beings. Our blood is the same color, our hearts beat, our lungs pump. We are all made of the same tissue and fluids and bones. We are all human beings. I am just so tired of this endless division into race and ethnicity and gender and religion. You are a human being and for that you deserve my respect and love.

    These days, I feel like all men are under attack and any allegation is accepted as true. We are no longer human beings. I saw a tweet a couple of weeks ago: “Not all men. 2017: You wanna bet.” Based solely on my gender, I am not worthy of respect or love. Is that really where this should be headed?

    • Very good. Thanks for this. Here is the magic of blogging, that we can expand one another’s post and bring to it new dimensions. And yes, it is this blind divisiveness I was writing against. What you’ve said so beautifully about our shared humanity spoke to the Civil Rights movement and continues to speak to the genocides and chauvinistic hierarchies in the world. Not sure why it’s taken thousands of years and people still don’t get it.

    • But it is the female body – not the male – that is often charged in the arts. You don’t see many guys clamoring for the right to be more domesticated in literature and poetry. =) And so I was speaking from that angle.

      • I get it. But, and I acknowledge that this may not be quite applicable to your point, but I am reading different perspectives on this and one of the things I also read today was about the fact that women want to be alluring to women, they want to be attractive to men, they want men to want them. There’s this push and pull quality to this that just fills the whole dynamic with risk and uncertainty on both sides.

        Any my point was that in real life, regardless of poetry and literature, there are many men who sacrifice themselves for their families. I say this as a man who has done exactly that. At least from my perspective. I have lived a life that stopped being my choice many years ago so that I could provide for my family. Interestingly, I discovered a creative side of me but one that would likely not have provided for my family so I continued to work at the day job that wasn’t the real me to do the things my family needed.

        I know that some of this is a mish mash of your point and my feelings on the subject. I think it’s a fascinating topic and one I wish more people had the ability to discuss together without rage and with a willingness to listen and try to understand rather than just react with pre-conceived conclusions. Thank you for affording me the opportunity to express some of my thoughts on this without attacking. 😉

      • I knew you were speaking of yourself. =) And I’ve known you put your family before self years ago. (Scary how someone online knows us better than folks who see us everyday?)

        That is a great point, how women still want to be wanted. I mean, all these victims and accusers haven’t overhauled their wardrobe for sweats or erased the make-up. (But neither should they HAVE to, case in point here.) And that was very much part of my point at the end (literature and poetry merely reflecting life), that there is a beauty and power in women’s choosing to offer our body (in more ways than one). So obviously consent makes the equation.

        “mish mash of your point and my feelings on the subject” Which is the joy of reading and writing, sharpening fellow thinkers and of self-discovery. Besides, I rarely attack, at least on the blog, lol. Bark…? That’s something else.

      • Ugh, so many typos in my comment. Thank you for wading through them. And thank you for the dialogue tonight. No, really, thank you. We need more of this than what is happening these days in the national conversation. I grow convinced that such a dialogue is not possible and then every once in awhile, something like this exchange comes along and it renews my hope that people can still talk with each other.

  12. I’m glad that you wrote about your experience. It means a lot to be heard. You were and are a smart young woman to recognize a jackass when you encounter one. I used a nice word but I had really rather used a different one. I have never encountered anyone trying to make unwanted and unwarranted advances. I have perhaps, been very lucky.

  13. Powerful piece here Diana. This coming out is long overdue but are there limitations and gradings for different levels of harassments. For example: comparing Al Franken’s misgivings compared to the likes of Roy Mooere’s. Does the system need a grading for differentiating levels of crossed lines like Murder 1, Murder 2 and manslaughter?

  14. Well you certainly picked a ho hum, non controversial topic to wade in to here Diana! 😉

    Kidding, this is such an important issue and I appreciate you sharing your story. I’ve had my moments too as have most women and it’s good the tide has shifted decidedly against the slimy Thompson’s and Weinstein’s of this world.

    Another commenter brought up a good point though on the wide divide between sexual assault/rape and just merely complimenting a woman or asking her out. We need to be careful this doesn’t turn in to a witch hunt against men and any type of communication between them and women. Already I can sense good men becoming desensitized to the very real problem of sexual abuse and exploitation of women because they feel everything is being labeled this way.

    • Like I needed more drama in my life. But this was one train I didn’t want to miss.

      And yeah, that’s terrible that men have to be afraid to be men. I think we’re confusing one another a great deal as to what’s allowed as men and women!

  15. mmmmmm … thanks Diane. As mothers, we have a huge responsibility towards the upbringing of our offspring. Fathers too. I guess it begins with the parents. But this is such an enormous topic. Call out the perpetrator every time. Name and shame him. Don’t let him get away with it. If we do, there is a certain amount of collusion.

  16. Very bold of you to speak up, and it’s about time there was a platform for all of us to state our opinions without shame. Safety is always first, and hope that was the end of the trainer. You can never be too careful. In a conversation like this, we have to be careful of accusing and putting the blame on each other solely because of gender…a lot of it comes down to choice…and emotion and desires. How we can control them – and really how to respect each other – is also a great point of discussion.

  17. This is excellent!! And I hope is the beginning of a long dialogue on the subject. The are many whose name was called out that I was a fan of, which really upset me.

      • The one that really upset me was Charlie Rose. I’ve watched his show on PBS for years, he was a part of the family, besides being one of the best interviewers, hands down. Then to wake up one morning and find out what he’s done. All and all if you are guilty of such behavior then you deserve the consequences.

  18. I don’t think there will ever be any easy answers to this one, D. Mutual respect goes a long way. I would hate to see us lose the fun that can go along with playful interaction between the sexes. Force is never right, however, no matter what the issue. While I recognize that it mainly goes in one direction, it isn’t always true. I once lost a job because I refused to sleep with a woman. I, for one, am glad of the me-too movement, glad for the awareness it creates. Once the dust settles, maybe we can come up with a more sane and humane way of dealing with each other. –Curt

    • You always share meaningfully (when you’re not making me laugh out loud). I love the nod to the playful fun: boy, are things uptight right now! And I appreciate your adding your confession to the MeToo line, as terrible as that is. Wow, I’m sure that put quite a spin on things and lent you new sympathy to victims of abuse and overtures. I wish you could’ve reported her. You’ve put you finger on it: the insane and inhumane. What a year, here in the states, esp.

      I trust it’ll be a wonderful Christmas with the family. Please tell P I said hi.


  19. Sorry for your experiences with jerks and unwanted aggression. I do like your metaphor of an open mic, though. Indeed, to change the culture it will take many voices. Great commentary, thanks for a different take on a sensitive subject right now. – Marty

    • I wish I could find the cartoon that appeared amid all the allegations. An obese woman entered the office of her boss and said something to the fact that all the other women in the office had sued the boss because he approached them inappropriately, but she was suing him because of discrimination– he had not approached her.

  20. Surely the demiurge is corrupted, and the true beauty of this realm taken with it. There is far more here than meets the eyes… service to self, or service to others? PK Dick had it right saying “the creator of this world is demented”. I find truth in the statement that – everything is about sex, except sex, which is about power …

  21. I remember an illustration a young minister gave about temptation and how to overcome it. He said, “A young couple was sitting on the family sofa watching a movie or something and the boy approached the girl is the way you describe. The girl was pondering what to do when her father entered the room. Temptation gone! Vanished with the presence of the father.”

    Think of the father figure when temptation comes.

    • I appreciate your heart, Beth. Actually, I think there is a better way that is in fact more Biblical, one that is (ironically) illustrated powerfully by ancient mythology. Homer talked about the Sirens, sea-nymphs with voices so painfully and lusciously beautiful they led mariners to destruction. Ulysses and his companions escaped by stuffing their ears with wax, and U. lashed himself to the mast. This falls more in line with the way you describe, in spirit. When the Sirens attempted to draw the Argonauts from their course, their singing was drowned by the sweeter music of Orpheus. It is a greater love, a greater beauty (more than judgmt), a greater attraction that frees us from our counterfeit pleasures.

  22. I agree its about time we had this debate and those who are powerful have no rights over the vulnerable whether it be for purposes of sex or exploitation in other ways. The bottom line is it is exploitation of the weaker in society and that as you point out is not confined to women as the weaker. Men have also been sexually exploited where the boss is female but your point is well taken exploitation of women is far more prevalent in society. In spite of UN actions and all the media attention I personally feel this problem around the world continues to be much more than revealed and will never be fully addressed. The rich and politically connected will somehow find a way to either cover up or survive all that negative attention and legal action.

    • I really don’t know, Ian. In some ways, our society (well, in America) has seen some remarkable reconstruction since the Civil Rights movement…and then we see that so many in this country never had a change of heart after all. And for all our global modern advancements, the genocides, war, and apathy leave me wondering if we’re still in the days of the Barbarians. What a world.

      • I don’t think we can yet claim to be in a civilized part of the world as opposed to uncivilized. What does it mean to be civilized? Much of what I see today has me agreeing with you that we are still coming out of the barbarian stage.

  23. Diana, A powerful and needed post. I’m sorry that you were subjected to such a humiliation.
    Our culture has embraced contraception and sexual license, by which the glorification of sex has resulted in the widespread acceptance of women being sexually abused, raped, harassed, treated as objects just as Bl. Pope Paul VI said it would. This unjustly causes a false notion of women, making them too often a target of such unwanted advances.

    Essentially the sexual revolution of the 60’s and its above consequences, of which both men and women have advanced, has fueled a climate where men can escape the responsibility of fatherhood and avoid any responsibility for their actions. Because of this circumstance both women and men lose. For, lost is the art of the gentleman and the lady, and the wholesome relationship fostered therein.

    Regardless of cultural decay, the words of Saint John Paul II still ring true: “The duty of every man is to uphold the dignity of every women.”

  24. Pingback: You’ve got to read this | albits

  25. Hopefully, the dialogue on this topic in the media will make our culture safer and better while providing equal opportunities for women (and men) in the workplace. May we experience healing as we prevent repeating the behavior in the following generations.

  26. Thanks so much for your thoughts here. Statistics around convictions for sexual assault, deliberate deep-sixing by police and bosses of complaints, and the horrid experience you went through remind us all that we all have a long way to go. Men need to stand up to men on this. We men have been cultured into turning a blind eye, or winking at it, or partaking in sexual assault. The way forward will involve unmasking these powers. Thanks again for your part in this unmasking.

  27. In criminal law class, we learned that rape is a crime of violence, not a sexual act. I think the same holds true for any of this kind of behavior, it’s just in varying degrees. I forget what the actual staggering statistic is about how many women are victims of sexual abuse over the course of their lifetimes, but I would posit that it’s really every woman who has had to deal with this, either subtly or overtly, because until now, and crazily enough, society just considered it part of the experience of being a woman. Perhaps someday women say enough rather than carrying these dirty little secrets around as if the shame is theirs, but it means not backing the crazy patriarchal establishment anymore think Roy Moore who almost one his senatorial seat despite the allegations of hitting on 14-year olds and being banned from the mall, for God’s sake. Perhaps someday is now. It sure feels like it.

    • Don’t hold your breath. We may find Moore in the White House someday.

      (Ok, ok. That was a dirty move, which I think I’m allowed in light of what so many predators have gotten away with. But I’ll be good.) Actually, I agree. We are in the midst of slow tectonic shifts in the patriarchy.

      Wish you a wonderful holiday and year-end, Pam. Try not to keep so many balls up in the air.


      • Haha! 😂 Isn’t the definition of a mom keeping a lot of balls in the air?! Merry Merry 🎄and Happy Happy. 🥂Here’s tectonic shifts.😘

  28. A note on your rmention of Pride & Prejudice: I wondered if you have seen the movie/TV series (Colin Firth and the wet shirt etc) or studied the book? Jane Austen’s novels are subtley ironic views of the culture of her time- where women were defined by becoming wives in a ‘good marriage’ – and Jane herself refused offers of marriages she preferred to remain in charge of her own life. Sadly Hollywood and similar productions of her works have taken it at face value, in order to entertain audiences with romance, sexual undertones/overtones, and a pretty story that plays to the concept of women as inferior , at best potential mothers for the heir and at worst sexual objects. Just a thought – everyone else has already made comments I might have made! Thanks for your insightful and rigourous posts on being a woman in today’s USA (which I often think is worse at gender relations than Europe is – where did the pioneer spirit of equality go?) and the western world.

    • Austen was ahead of her time, something of course Hollywood (and producers like Harvey!) couldn’t handle properly. I read the novel in college and have seen different versions. Loved the feedback, M. Thank you. Merry Christmas!


  29. I can’t tell you how many of my male patients thought that I would have fantastic sex with them because I was a nurse. They seemed to think nurses knew the best way to do it. That was not one of my classes. Over the years I’ve joked with guys about sex. I’ve had wives stay in the room with me while I took care of their husbands. One man threatened to get his cowhands to hold me down if I didn’t lie in his bed. That I took as a serious threat and never went back. In my opinion, sex without love is just a physical act to satisfy an itch. I agree that rape is a violent act and a man or woman who rapes should be considered a violent criminal.

  30. Well written as always. There is a day coming in which the world will be judged by the man Christ Jesus. Nothing has gone unseen since Adam. The new heavens and earth will begin eternity, where all shame shall be wiped away for those who know him. For those who don’t, it will be incomprehensible how much they should have. You can have complete peace right now.

  31. Nothing is so black and white when culture, equality, religion, literature and sexuality collides. Sexual harassment is a serious matter and has severe repercussions in corporate and government institutions. But it is not that society’s attitudes, behaviors, personal values are automatically at the front line fighting it. If that were the case we wouldn’t have Trump in office. And it’s fair to say that men and women are equally vulnerable in sexual harassment which muddles the argument that women are the focus point for harassment mainly due to physical vulnerabilities. We have a generation of women who taught the next generation of women how to say no, how to stand up, how not to be ashamed for reporting, how not to be treated as sexual objects. How did a generation of fathers and grandfathers teach men about sexual harassment? I hear some father saying ‘Go for it’- That boy!’ – ‘Don’t be a wuss’. Or do we automatically assume men don’t feel cheap and used when harassed by a beautiful woman? Perhaps flattered who knows. Sexual attitudes throughout the ages have always been influenced by culture, religion, politics, laws and innate dispositions. The right to say NO -You cannot act that way towards me, NO- I do not want to marry in order to financially survive , N0- Just because your my husband doesn’t mean you can hit me, verbally abuse me, and force sex on me anytime you want it and the laws protect you NO- as a woman I do not have to serve you coffee every morning to get promoted… The very right to say NO for everyone equally came with the laws. This does not lessen femininity in any way, nor masculinity. And the majority of poetry/literature for centuries was about the beauty of men and women in the traditonal sense of sex, housewives and love, vulnerable and coherent of viable contentment within that frame. Why would we lose that today in poetry or literature? Because there is diversity in the mix? Because most marriages end in divorce? Because women now have an opportunity to financially survive without a man? None of this takes away from the other. The bottom line is, people equally have the choice of the life they want to live.

    • You left us a post, T. =) You hit upon some very important points. Yes, men do have it more awkward in terms of rallying against sexual harassment and abuse, by nature of the complicated beast, that is, traditional notions of masculinity (esp where these touch shame).

      ” The very right to say NO for everyone equally came with the laws. This does not lessen femininity in any way, nor masculinity. And the majority of poetry/literature for centuries was about the beauty of men and women in the traditional sense of sex, housewives and love…” Absolutely does not lessen femininity or masculinity, but the way it’s played out, I think it’s confusing for many and in fact has. In fighting back against such treatment, women are protesting twisted conceptions of femininity. And yes, that is what I was getting at in literature and poetry, that the vulnerabilities inherent in the traditional roles of women (as homemaker, lover, etc) remain something beautiful to be celebrated within love and family. Yet I am sure that some postmodern LGBT editors of progressive journals would not accept some of my poetry bc such traditional pictures of women smack of doormatting and fly in the face of the gender OBLITERATION they seek. They don’t believe women need to stay different from men (hence the sex changes), don’t believe women should embrace vulnerability.

      • Nor will Christian publishers accept anything outside the traditional roles for women. The point on the select target of audience/subject matter in the market is mute in this case 🙂 But it is a very introspective question – is the lesbian/gay market focused on gender obliteration? I have to disagree. This is like comparing all religious publications. In this post context I am not focusing or arguing for or against different values people hold or what people should morally embrace but rather the concept of gay/lesbian market as a whole discounting the vulnerabilities within gender or seek to obliterate masculinity and femininity, This is just not the case my friend unless the only concept of such is being with the opposite gender. This is too polarizing and doesn’t embody the whole of gender. Masculinity and femininity is so much more than that.

      • You’re probably right, that it isn’t sweeping or categorical like that and yes, I can see that would be too polarizing. Though I do think I am onto something in the obliteration, that we will find that wish somewhere among LGBT activists. We’ll leave it at that. =)

  32. A very good and appropriate topic for this time in history. I see a lot of varied comments, especially from men. I firmly believe there are good and bad people in general, but men have always been stronger and aggressive as a rule. That’s built into their DNA. Stronger means more power. Some will take advantage. If more good men step up, and more women speak out, perhaps we can close the gap. Love thy neighbor and respect are the keys. Thanks.

  33. Great post. So many experiences untold and voices yet heard. Thanks for adding your personal experiences. There are so many people who still don’t “get it” and fail to understand the dynamics women navigate in the workplace.

  34. A very well written article. Yes, we women are physically more vulnerable than men. There are obvious biological facts we cannot change, but we can change our education and, consequently, unfair behaviors and patterns in our societies. People who have received proper education, both women and men, and also trans, are less likely to oppress or allow themselves to be oppressed. Open mics are meant for everybody. In a fair society where freedom of speech is allowed, who does not want to be the person who speaks into a microphone? By the way, thanks for stopping at my blog.

  35. A very worthy post. Another “E-friend” asked similar questions. I replied with a single sentence:
    “Rape is rape, courting is courting”.
    Allow me to add a second sentence:
    “Anything in between is bad manners.”
    I personally cannot fathom men who… fall into bad manners. Maybe I was educated in the last century? 😉
    Take care.

    • It certainly applies to both genders, so that it really amounts to the issue of power. It really is a shame that we see the MeToo testimonies coming from all walks of life, all cultures. We can only hope the heightened awareness will take us all to higher ground.

      • I agree. I was… baffled to learn about the extent. And it probably truly reflects… the mounting abuse of power? Humanity forgets what power really implies. And then there is a war. And for a while people remember. I remember my parents’ generation after WWII. Most had fought and survived. And none were particularly keen on reliving the experience. So… “manners” were important. Let us hope we are on our way to higher (and not lower) ground.
        Take care.

  36. We are not about to topple 5000 years of appreciation the female form. No amount of complaints can overrule biology. OTOH, if we enhanced appreciation of the male form, would that be so bad?

    I must be a strange bird. My wife doesn’t worry about leaving me alone with a strange woman. The director of my show is a woman less than half my age. I’m always going off on adventures by myself that she isn’t interested in. I trust her absolutely and she obviously still trusts me, 34 years of marriage and two children later.

    I don’t snark about her eating preferences – or anything else. She’s my wife. Why would one do such a horrid thing?

My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

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