How many more Harvey Weinsteins need to fall from grace before Corporate America gets the message: women are not the chattel of media moguls, business tycoons, slimy politicians, or radio show hosts.
They are liberated, capable professionals deserving of our utmost respect and admiration—not the “locker room” vulgarization President Trump and his ilk would ascribe them.
Oh, and don’t forget his noble defense of those lewd comments: “Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course —not even close.”
Isn’t this the age of unprecedented equality, civilization, and enlightenment? Isn’t this the age of unparalleled professional opportunities for women? And not the dark ages of subordination, oppression, and witch hunts? Isn’t this the age of women presidents and prime ministers?
Yes. Yes. Yes. But the patriarchal, power-play politics of sex are still (alarmingly) calling the shots.
The Quid Pro Quo Card
It’s one thing when a male sexual predator harasses his female employee in the demented hope of consensual sex of some kind; it’s quite another when he has the power to make or break her career.
In a stirring and personal essay written for The Atlantic, Brit Marling, the star and creator of the Netflix series The OA, recounts in detail a sexual harassment encounter she had with Harvey Weinstein following the the Sundance Film Festival in 2011.
When he allegedly asked her if she’d like to “shower together,” her fear impulse kicked in: Weinstein was, after all, someone “who could anoint or destroy me.”
Her essay refines this point with a sobering poignancy:
“Weinstein was a gatekeeper who could give actresses a career that would sustain their lives and the livelihood of their families. He could also give them fame, which is one of few ways for women to gain some semblance of power and voice inside a patriarchal world. They knew it. He knew it. Weinstein could also ensure that these women would never work again if they humiliated him. That’s not just artistic or emotional exile—that’s also economic exile.”
Pulling it Back
When you consider that, as of 2017 women make up only a dismal 23 percent of The Directors Guild of America, and that professional women still (on average) make far less than their male counterparts in a wide range of professions, it’s crystal clear that we have our work cut out to rein in this discrepancy—but more importantly, to restore the gender balance and fend off the sexual distortion ingrained in the patriarchal male psyche.
Yes, we’re talking a major cultural shift here, that is still very much in its infancy.
As I note in my debut book, Do It Anyway: Deep Spirituality Meets Real Life:
“Violence against women and societal degradation of women in general is rife across the globe. From prostitution and child sex slavery to the vulgarization and brutalization of female sexuality in the sleazy multi-billion dollar porn industry, to the embedded on-campus rape culture of U.S. colleges, women have been objectified and commodified in the most appalling ways imaginable.
And that’s just their bodies. Their intelligence, creative potential, intuitive and intellectual input, not to mention their humanitarian service to generations, have all been severely sidelined in a human history of patriarchal arrogance and ignorance.”
Yes, it’s high time the “locker room” boys (would-be men) grew up and moved beyond their “innocent banter.” Time too for corporate professionals to get the help they need if their only way to satiate sexual desires is to fax images of their genitalia to their female colleagues.
In a word, 21st century male professionals—especially those with the most clout—may need to consider taking professional seminars in workplace sexual harassment and code of conduct.
Let’s hope, as I note in my book, that there’s a brighter future for humanity beyond the sleaze, violence, harassment, and degradation that women have had to endure for centuries:
“I look to the day when we are no longer lost. When the joy and personal fulfillment everyone seeks and deserves is no longer negated by a preoccupation with bodily functions and gender definitions. When sex slavery, prostitution, sexual discrimination and inequality, porn kings and pimps are a distant memory of human depravity. I look to the day when human sexuality is honored for the life-giving, liberating, harmonizing, and sacred gift that it truly is, rooted as always in God’s universal heart of kindness and inclusivity.”
I believe we are capable of embracing this vision, even if it takes (but hopefully not) a few more decades. What say you?
Author: Gerard Murphy
Image: Will Elder, 1957
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Travis May