Another stage in the sexual equality revolution has finally arrived. I’m thrilled – and stunned – by the rapid spread from Weinstein to the outing of many other outrageous men to #MeToo and now to #meNOmore, as women across the world stand up in many industries against the organisational and reputational power which men have exerted over them. We’ve come a long way since Mad Men.I was brought up at home to believe in equality. I was never comfortable in the locker room or in men’s groups talking derogatorily about women. I’ve always preferred women’s company – but then I’ve never liked cars, I’m an appalling handyman and I never tell anti-women jokes. I’ve applauded women standing up for themselves for what they deserve and want. I’ve blogged on this theme several times but, being a man, my views seem not to be seen as particularly important (I get very few comments on these blogs).
From the values of Mad Men
I was always surprised by how this TV series of the 1950s was applauded, when its fundamental values of treating women as second class citizens and sex objects are so out of date…or should be. OK, it’s beautifully made and does recall a particular time, but the praise seemed to longingly value ‘the good old days’, when men were men and in charge.
In many ways Weinstein is just Mad Men, but without style or grace. Power exerted because it can be. Give me what I want or your career will go nowhere. I don’t understand why outing Weinstein was the straw that broke the camel’s back – there have been many individuals (Savile, Cosby, Strauss-Kahn, Berlesconi, Harris to name a few) named recently in many countries who have been serial sexual harassers.
Which led to #MeToo
When #MeToo was born, it encouraged women to add their stories. And a flood resulted, because, when one woman named a particular man, many others were prepared to come forward with similar stories of that man. (Strangely, though few have been charged or found guilty, it is assumed that most are guilty and some have even admitted their guilt, explaining that was ‘their way’ or ‘the times were different then’.)
And now the flood is under way with spectacular success, with a new name, a new industry, a new country every day. No one is prepared to defend the men involved where there are multiple accusers…except for Donald Trump and Roy Moore. I expect people like this to be blown away when the storm becomes powerful enough, as has already been the case for Moore.
And now #meNOmore
So this week we have advanced from #MeToo. No longer is it sufficient to say, ‘Yes, I too was sexually harassed’. Now women are saying ‘I’m not going to allow this any more’…which is a very big step, but one that is necessary, because men have shown that, in total and on average, they will not willingly support women becoming equal, since it represents a power loss to men generally.
Where do I stand? I am a man. I love looking at women. I do want to touch them, hug them, kiss them and more. I feel that testosterone surge when I find a woman attractive (whether or not the woman feels attracted herself). It’s a very powerful urge. But I know that I don’t have the right to do any of this, unless the woman makes it clear that it is OK or desired. Although I feel I would never want to overpower a woman with physical strength, clearly some men do want to do this. That’s where another part of the problem lies – in the unequal physical power relationship, as well as any unequal organisation or individual position power difference.
To the Future
This is just the start of a tectonic shift in behaviour between women and men. It’s not anti-men. It’s anti-power abuse, whether that be organisational, individual position or physical power. How far the change goes depends on women collectively. Are they/you prepared to act and talk in support of your sisters? Will you refuse to bow to powerful men? Will you call them out when it happens to you?
Strangely, when our economics are becoming much more conservative world wide, our social behaviours are changing in the other direction. Same-sex marriage, voluntary assisted dying, sexual equality, indigenous respect, reductions in domestic violence and institutional abuse and more are flowering. In Australia, and most developed countries at least, while we have many complaints, we have much to be thankful for.
The current rapid move towards sexual equality for women is something to be recognised and supported…even by men. Men are not the losers here. Those without respect for the rights of others are the losers. And they deserve to lose. Roll on, women!