Did you ever get the uneasy feeling that the world you thought you were living in wasn’t quite real? Real in the sense that things you thought were true in fact might not be?
Sounds like the cue for a fantasy story, but sadly, it’s not fantasy, it’s reality.
For example, one could be forgiven for thinking–or perhaps a man could be forgiven for thinking this–that by now women were doing OK. That men had learned to treat them as equals, deserving of respect for their own individual merits. Seems like a no-brainer in the 21st century, don’t you think?
But is belief in this beautiful truth, that all people are created equal, only skin deep? There is an abundance of evidence that this might be the case. Let me cite some anecdotal examples.
Here in Ottawa, at one of the local universities, there were two front page stories in a matter of days. One in which a woman was allegedly sexually assaulted by members of the men’s hockey team, and another in which the student leader was the subject of a sexually violent online conversation.
Then there’s the sexually-oriented attack on Mary Robinette Kowal from some male members of the Science Fiction Writers Association, as I mentioned in an earlier post.
And the latest from that community, the ill-advised selection of Jonathan Ross, known for his verbal abuse of women in his performances, as MC for the Hugo awards ceremony. At a time when healing is needed, what a brilliant choice. I’ve never seen Mr. Ross in action, but by all accounts it seemed that the Hugos were hurtling towards a disaster of 2013 Oscars proportions. Anyone remember the travesty that was Seth MacFarlane’s Oscar performance?
After a Twitter storm, Mr. Ross resigned as MC. But what were the organizers thinking of in the first place?
Finally, an amazing incident in which a passenger on a WestJet flight left a note for the captain, written on a napkin, to the effect that the airplane cockpit was no place for a woman.
Wow. Come on, guys, are we really so threatened by successful women? Have we learned nothing over the past few decades?
Perhaps the hardest thing to accept is that the problem seems equally prevalent amongst young, university-aged men as men of my generation, who could almost–but not really–be forgiven, having grown up in an era when most moms stayed at home and baked and cleaned.
Why don’t all us men take a breath and agree on the following:
We will not make sexually hostile comments about women, even in private conversation.
We will call out anyone who does.
Even if deep down you believe that women should stay at home (you might want to get some help for that), you will behave as if you don’t believe that, and treat the women around you with the same respect as if she were a man.
Is that so hard?