The classic move was faster and lower. What woman hasn’t had to deal with this?

As someone who was just starting to wear a bra in the mid 1960s, when rebellious women began burning theirs, I want to comment on the current revelations about sexually abusive men in power.

It’s always been a problem, and it’s always been swept out of sight.

I’m glad things are changing. Do you wonder why this change did not happen 30 years ago? After all, Women’s Lib and Feminism emerged in the 60s. Do young women have any idea just how drastically things changed in the 60s and 70s?

Please realize that tens of thousands of girls like me were pretty much told we could only be nice, were expected to find a man to lean on who would support us. We could be teachers or nurses, but we absolutely should give up such work if Hubbie wanted us to stay home. Of all the skills we accumulated, the most important was cooking well and keeping a neat home. Seriously. These lessons were embedded in every bit of media we saw. Girls wore dresses. We were not the same as boys.

Then it all changed. When feminists marched; our parents and teachers laughed and mocked them at first. Within a few years, however, most men and women changed their minds. We accepted that women could work in almost any industry! Yay! And women could wear pants. They did not have to dress or act or speak simply to please men!

I think the changes we lived through were so drastic that most of us could not envision even more change. Our aspirations switched abruptly from Donna Reed, the perfect mom, to Mary Tyler Moore in a newsroom. It was dizzying.

Millennial and Gen-X women were raised in a new era. No one told them they had to stay home and cook, or that they couldn’t make their own choices. Honestly, did they see the need for further change? No, everything was fine.

But men still hold a lot of power, and certain men don’t quibble about using it however they want. Surely it was a rude shock to all those women (or girls; or even boys) that a guy could use his position to molest them. That his money and power protected him from accusations. That he could behave like a lordling from Game of Thrones without fear of consequences.

That they could be so powerless in the 21st century.

Now that paradigm’s being flipped on its ass. I guess tipping point is the term to use, though it doesn’t ring with enough gravitas. I mean, we’re talking about upsetting the power balance in male-dominated industries that control millions of dollars – and the halls of government, too. We might see hierarchies that have been in place for decades, maybe centuries, shift and crumble.

I never could have predicted this and I love that it’s bubbling over. Where will the dust settle?

But there’s a dark side, too. The possibility of innocent men being accused is there. Witch hunts. Backlash. Unforeseen consequences. Or everything could settle back the way it was before, after a few token arrests have been made (I hope it’s too late for that last possibility).

In the midst of all this, let’s remember that a year ago a man was publicly exposed, bragging about grabbing women by the pussy, because “when you’re a star they let you do it.” And we elected him president.

Life is unpredictable. Things can change without warning, in ways you don’t expect. I wonder if most younger women realize how fragile and recently won their freedoms are. I hope we’re all wise and brave enough to fight back when we’re threatened.

When I read The Handmaid’s Tale in the 1980s, I thought of it as science fiction. No longer. I’ve seen too many illogical swings in our society, and I’ve studied too much history. The Holocaust would seem incredible, horrid fantasy to sane people in the 1920s, but it happened. Anything can happen.

 

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