Forget right versus left. Recent months’ revelations surrounding the deluge of sexual misconduct allegations, evidence, admissions and so on from across the full spectrum of American politics and pop culture has dutifully (frighteningly, depressingly) exposed a raw and awful truth in our culture.
The perpetrators – both alleged and admitted – of the various sexual misconduct, assault and harassment charges were “members” of both conservative and progressive groups, Republicans and Democrats alike. The awful truth is that their sexual misogyny and predation has less to do with their political ideology and everything to do with their own, power-bestowed gender; an abuse that has detracted from America’s so-called notion of “equality” since the dawn of the nation.
Look at it this way: Harvey Weinstein is – or rather was – a major Democratic donor. Bill O’Reilly was – and now potentially is again – a major voice in conservative media. Kevin Spacey is a noted and powerfully popular gay actor and cultural progressive. Roger Ailes built perhaps the most powerful right wing media outlet in American history. Al Franken is a Democratic Senator and an outspoken leader for liberal politics. Roy Moore is the very definition of Christian fundamentalism. Louis C.K. was a beloved comic, actor and social progressive.
The list goes on and on, and varies in both severity and accusation type, if accusations exist at all. In some cases, these behaviors are not limited to misconduct, but rather bleed over into more generalized attitudes toward women; women who are ostracized or demeaned or “downgraded” due to brazen reluctance to conform to a patriarchal society.
For instance, conservative talk-personality Tomi Lahren lost her job for defying her male bosses’ views on female reproductive rights. Gretchen Carlson was ostracized from Fox News after accusing Roger Ailes of harassment. Megyn Kelly was bullied by then candidate Donald Trump after daring to question him on his demeaning comments about various women.
While Senator Al Franken’s “apology” left a lot to be desired as well as unsaid, it was perhaps the best one to date (and undoubtedly far better than Roy Moore’s determined plea of innocence, Bill O’Reilly’s victim-blaming and the late Roger Ailes’ deafening silence. It also took steps beyond both Spacey’s and Louis C.K.’s similarly-positioned statements). Meanwhile, Democrats as a whole have universally rallied behind the call to investigate the ethical and moral implications behind Franken’s actions (as suggested by himself) – something which many Republicans have yet to do for someone of their own party, particularly their own admitted sexual predator president.
Obviously there are ideological differences between the men in question, some of which may of course influence their views on and respect for women in general. But one thing they all have in common is that they are all, in fact, men. Powerful, popular men. They have benefited from and have been excused by society’s reluctance to identify and address the problems wrought by a historically damaging patriarchy, wherein their behaviors have gone unnoticed, unchecked and unpunished literally for generations.
Powerful men continue to both directly and indirectly benefit from a cultural fissure that will undoubtedly take generations more to mend. But that is not to say we cannot start right now.
As voters, as citizens and and as human beings we must demand that patriarchal abuses of power in government, in media and in society as a whole are brought to an end, and that our elected leaders prioritize the issue. It is no longer acceptable to continue to support, downplay or excuse the misconduct of those who would attempt to perpetuate women as the lesser, victimized sex, nor is it conscionable to allow such a person to remain at the highest seat of power.Click here for reuse options!
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