For women, it’s no Garden of Eden

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As the public continues to hear a cascade of abuse of women and teenage girls both recent and in the shadowed past, it is evident that America’s women still rank below males and often the man’s horses and canines. I am never shocked by the stories as they unfold. I am, however, stunned that so many women and teen girls had lockjaw and males uniformly earned a pass for their unfettered misconduct. Sadly, it is often times the males in positions of authority and power who manipulate the adoring female into a compromising situation — too many names to name of late.

I am a survivor of an abduction and assault when I was 12 years old. My sensitivity to this subject is profound and deeply rooted in a dive and roll out of a moving vehicle. They never caught the man but I learned then that a woman or a girl cannot physically overpower a man; they need to outsmart them. Front page headlines and photos did not let me remain silent or obscure as my city woke up to my ugly reality in black and white.

That hard lesson got me through college years of stalkers, knee grabbing Sr. VPs, parking lot flashers and lunging first dates. I empathize with the young teen girls who blindly trusted a male adult in a position of authority. Being the victim made me a pariah in high school and the girl with a history as damaged goods through no fault of my own. I was snatched as I made Hallowe’en trick or treat rounds with my sister and a friend.

With almost 25 years in a front row seat in corporate America and the male-dominated board rooms where women, as eye candy, were told to pivot and turn to indulge the corporate wolves, I chose to avoid the man traps. Business trips looked more like bachelor parties with abundant alcohol, misplaced hands and innuendos. Elevators, private offices, empty hotel corridors were all to be avoided. The male-dominated business and political world has not evolved and perhaps has only festered in the new millennium of deeper pockets and boundless excess. So many past misbehaviors continue today and are excused as men in rut or locker room talk. It is NEVER OK to abuse, sexualize, belittle or demean a female or other fellow human (Notice I did not use the term “weaker sex”).

I had four brothers who were raised to respect and honor women as their equals; socially, intellectually and personally. They appreciated the female form — never to be maligned but respected and celebrated! There is a line between appreciation and demeaning objectifying, and it is evident women have not gained much ground in the last 50 years in spite of the “Sexual Revolution.”

The “pardon me but” males and prudish females say many females dress seductively so they ask for it. It is therefore the female’s “fault” for the male’s unbridled sexual drive? Women and teenage girls should not have to wear sack cloth to curb unchecked male aggression or testosterone. That is what the misogynist Islamist rules of black abayas and hijabs provide — a shroud on temptation to mask a lack of Muslim male restraint. Dressing to look pretty is not dressing to be molested or preyed upon, ever.

Perhaps, after recent disclosures and exposures, society as a whole will at least be more aware to this deep, ugly reality. American women and particularly mothers are as much to blame for dismissing aberrant male behaviors as just “boys being boys” — almost as a badge of honor!

We look away as politicians, power brokers and leaders operate outside all social mores. Why is it OK to dismiss as many as 15 unrelated female/teenage victims in order to get your politician into the White House or the Senate? It is time for women/girls to walk out of the room, demand respect and gain equality amidst institutionalized abuses. If a boss sees sexual misbehavior of any kind he/she need to squelch it immediately. As long as predatory behavior continues unchecked, it will escalate and normalize. That is what politicians in power, celebrity directors using the casting couch and date rape drug users count on.

I can only hope men and boys will think before they participate in or instigate sexual misconduct. We are in a changing time and our POTUS is part of the ugly misogynist past that is politically, socially and morally incorrect in 2017 and for eternity, I can only hope.

• • •

The author of this commentary is a Coeur d’Alene resident.

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