20 Nov The Real Sexual Revolution Starts Now
Although some people have confused the 1960s rebirth of feminism with what they call “the sexual revolution,” here’s the truth: the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s was a sexual revolution for men. It never happened for women.
The sexual revolution for women is beginning now.
Women are coming forth out of silence, and what we have to say sears the heart and brain and body—but those voices are what freedom sounds like.
I’d planned to aim this blogpost at a comic artist whose work I had admired until recent “rumors,” Louis C.K. Fortunately, New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis has done it again and penned words of feminist fire on that subject in her piece “Louis C.K. and Hollywood’s Canon of Creeps.”” So I’m free to focus on the politicians—at least for now.
As of now, the national GOP is writhing in agony, not knowing what to do about Alabama’s twice-debenched former Chief Judge Roy Moore. The Alabama Republican Party has no such problem; they stand by his Senate seat campaign. Then again, by the time you read this, Alabama may have seceded from the union again. As of now, with revelations about Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken, the Democrats also now have a predicament.
Why is this so hard for these guys to figure out? Is it because they have been thinking with their genitalia and not with what passes for their brains?
It seems pretty clear to me.
1. Roy Moore? This sanctimonious pervert who calls his campaign a spiritual war; who was banned from a shopping mall for hitting on teenage girls; who is supported by corrupt, huckster evangelical clergy reminiscent of Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker—all the Elmer Gantrys, in fact—this twice-expelled justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, once for defying a federal court ruling to remove a 10 Commandments granite monument from secular government property, and once for defying the United States Supreme Court after it legalized marriage equality; this fake jurist who ruled from the bench against child rape survivors and in favor of their attackers; this stinking piece of excrement who even today defames nine women who have come forward to speak of assaults and molestations he perpetrated on them when they were pre-teen and teenage girls—NO, he should not become a United States senator. Simple. YES, if Alabama elects him and the Senate Constitutionally cannot refuse to seat him then the Senate should immediately expel him after seating. Simple.
2. I will still defend to my utmost not only pluralism but also the freedom of and from religion—but I recognize that most evangelical Christians do not extend a comparable defense to include me. Where is a shared frame of reference in which I can reason with someone who vows they will support Moore even if he is a child sexual abuser? For me, such evangelicals have forfeited any pretense of moral standing. Not when they cite Joseph and Mary to defend child rape—or, for that matter, not when they ask for the nation’s prayers after a white Christian guy shoots up a Texas church, but they still defend their guns more vociferously than their Christ’s teachings. Oh, I confess I hold out quixotic hope that more evangelical women than we suspect may surprise their men and their state at the Alabama polls. But it behooves us to remember that they live in fear and silence. When The New Yorker magazine writer Charles Bethea went to Gadsden, Alabama, to report on the mall story, the locals were willing to tell him that everybody knew about Roy Moore. Common knowledge: they warned their friends and they watched their daughters. But nobody, not pastors or cops or mall workers, would let him use their names. That small town cramped oppressive fear—of being ostracized, of betraying the tribe, of violent comeuppance, of hellfire—how much more intense must be for the women?
3. And now there’s Al Franken, former comedian, hard-working progressive hero. Yes, there’s a difference between sexual harassment of an adult and rape of a child. But liberals and lefties dare not, must not practice the same splitting-hairs hypocrisy as Alabama evangelicals. And yes, there’s a difference between the kind of power a district attorney in a Southern town wields and the kind of power held by a comedian who at the time had no Senatorial aspirations. But male entitlement and power is present in both situations, and were abused in both. And yes, in fairness, Franken’s response is a polar opposite from the denunciations, evasions, justifications, and smears coming from Roy Moore. But Franken’s apology and remorse was due 11 years earlier, and would have been better if not needed to begin with. Clearly, nice guys with progressive policies make better apologists. Think Louis C.K. Think Anthony Weiner, in tears—and now in jail. Not that Woody Allen or, for that matter, Bill Clinton ever apologized at all.
It’s really not so complicated, people. Listen to the women. Believe the women. Push for the kind of legislation I suggested in my blogpost #MeToo. Push for women to hold more positions of power, which is the only one sure way to avoid this entrenched, entitled behavior continuing forever.
Most of all, understand that this upheaval might not be just another tipping point, as I’d feared. This could be the Lexington and Concorde of the real, women’s sexual revolution. Which means, sisters and friends, that however ragged and tattered of a Revolutionary Army we may be, we aren’t petitioning the King anymore.
Democracy is not a spectator sport. From here on, we can’t let up the pressure for one moment. If you are a woman who has not yet come forth at #MeToo, now’s the time. It gets easier with each new voice. If you are a well-known woman who has been afraid to challenge a powerful man, this is the time; your voice carries disproportionate weight, so triage any guilt about that and use that voice wisely. If you are or you know a woman who needs encouragement to come forth, give yourself or her that encouragement. Words matter—and numbers matter.
It’s a numbers game, since each “ordinary” woman daring to speak her MeToo makes it safer for herself and for the next woman to do so. And we all of us need every voice, in every industry, in every state, in every statehouse, everywhere.
This treatment of women lies at the heart of feminism’s struggle. Defining female human beings as sexual objects existing for male pleasure is the real reason we don’t get equal pay, the real reason we are denied reproductive rights, the real reason we are stereotyped as virgins or whores, the real reason we are regarded as prey.
And we must build on this now for yet another reason. Eyes on the prize: remember the at least 10-14 women who courageously came forward during Trump’s campaign to talk about his various assaults, which in his case he boasted openly of on audiotape, videotape, “The Howard Stern Show,” and reportedly in many taped rehearsals of “The Apprentice” still hidden in NBC’s vaults (demand their release!).
Remember there is a lawsuit pending, the plaintiff a woman named Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice” who says that Trump defamed her when he described her and other accusers as liars and political hacks or losers seeking money or fame. Trump claims you can’t bring a lawsuit against a sitting president, but Zervos has responded with the US Supreme Court ruling that allowed Paula Jones to bring a sexual harassment suit against President Bill Clinton while he was in office. Other women have said they would embrace the opportunity to provide a deposition in the case. The lawsuit is before New York State Supreme Court Judge Jennifer Schecter; it alleges emotional harm and seeks only $3000 in economic damages, because money is not its purpose; its purpose is to expose the truth. Rachel Crookes, Jessica Leeds, Summer Zervos, these are the names we should be hearing again before the end of this year, raised in protest against the predator in chief. Those names could bring him down. Not for nothing is he terrified of Moore’s proximity and contagion.
And while we’re at it, where is the band of intrepid lawyers who will launch a public-relations impeachment campaign against Clarence Thomas for having perjured himself to Congress, since the whole world knows he lied about what he’d said and done to Anita Hill?
Me, I believe the women. I believe Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan and Leeann Tweeden and Manohla Dargis and Summer Zervos and Leigh Corfman, who got robbed of part of her soul when she was just 14 years old. I believe myself. And I still believe Anita Hill.
This blog will return on December 4, 2017.