A few weeks ago I watched “The Funnier Sex” about women in comedy on CNN which was episode two of their series “The History of Comedy.” Just as I realized, “We’ve come a long way, baby” - like the Virginia Slims cigarette ads of the ‘70s - the comedian Patton Oswalt replied with a burst of protest when asked how he feels about women in comedy, “Why are we still asking this question?” He made the point that gender distinction is wrong, as though women were not equally comedic as men.
The stats are nothing to laugh about; women are 50.6% of the US population and 47% of the total workforce. These statistics should make it clear that women are in equal force with men in American society. We want men to know and realize that women should be respected and treated as fellow humans and citizens in the community. What scares me about being a woman in today’s world is it appears some men in leadership roles want to reverse the progress we’ve made over the last five decades.
Without getting into a long dissertation on pro-choice, I want men to know that choice means the right to choose; therefore it means women can choose to have a baby or choose to have an abortion and receive medical care and treatment during pregnancy, or the termination of pregnancy, legally. Pro-life means an end to legal abortion thus any medical professional performing an abortion for a woman seeking to end a pregnancy is violating the law. Donald Trump stated in a pre-election, televised Town Hall meeting that he believed women should be punished if they got an abortion. We all know that Trump stepped back from that statement later, after the interview, but not from his pro-life stance. We also know that the Vice President Mike Pence is pro-life and wishes to overturn Roe vs. Wade as well as defund Planned Parenthood. If this occurs there will be an increase in the number of abortions (despite legality) in the US and the death rate of women from abortions will increase substantially. Since Roe vs. Wade made abortions legal in 1973, the number of abortions in the US is actually lower now than it was before the legalization. Overturning Roe vs. Wade is a giant step backward and men should care and support the majority of women who want to keep abortion legal and support our right to choose.
VP Mike Pence has stated he doesn’t have meals or meetings alone with women unless it’s his wife. Pence also does not agree that women should serve in the military, and is certainly against women who choose be in combat alongside their fellow male soldiers, even though they have the right to choose military combat service and be protected from abuse and harassment. The current administration appears to not support women in government with only four women in the Trump Cabinet compared to Obama who had seven women in his Cabinet. Seven women are still not enough when we are 50.6% of the population, but we are going backward again with Trump – that scares me.
In a recent article written by Hans Fiene, “Why Men and Women Can Never Be ‘Just Friends’” he writes, “…If he’s spending time alone with you, he wants a date…” Hans implies all men are this way. There are other absurd statements Hans makes in his article. My point is, men should have female friends and business colleagues they meet with or attend social events without the assumption either party will view it as a “date.” It’s upsetting to keep hearing about high-powered male executives and famous male public figures being exposed and sued for physical and verbal abuse, paying off victims for silence, sexual harassment and rape. The recent claims and reports that Bill O’Reilly of Fox News sexually harassed and verbally abused women, after Roger Ailes, former Chairman of Fox News, was also accused of the same by a number of women is disgraceful. I’m not implying women never abuse men, or that women are exempt from penalties if they do abuse a man. I am afraid that our civilized society is unraveling, especially when Trump publically supports Bill O’Reilly and states he feels, “Bill did nothing wrong.” How does Trump know that and why is Trump making statements that support appalling conduct? Perhaps because Trump himself conceitedly admitted he gropes women inappropriately under the mistaken assumption they want his sexual advances.
This is not a whine festival or a portrayal of women as hysterical and fearful beings. I don’t live my life in fear, but I am concerned and outraged to think in this day and age women and men are thought to not to be able to have platonic friendships, or professional relationships because “men always want to have sex with a woman.” All men are not predators so it’s important that good men join women in calling for justice and protection from the abuse and attacks by corrupt men.
I want men to know that women need men to respect and treat us as equals and kindly, just as they should expect women to respect and treat men with equal kindness. Yes, we want recognition that we are women and our identity as a woman is important, just as your male identity is important to you. Women are slightly over half the population, yet many still don’t receive the same pay as a man doing the same work, or we aren’t offered equal opportunity to rise in our fields, especially in government. We want our right to choose. Women also want men to feel it’s okay and appropriate to invite women into a safe social or business environment and to be civilized, open and honest with us. Men should want to feel safe, not threatened and receive the same civility, openness, and honesty from women.
Just as Patton Oswalt pointed out women comedians are comedians; women are humans as men are humans. Let’s progress forward together and leave the fear of each other and oppression behind. That’s true greatness.
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