How Far?

March 2, 2020-

Chris Matthews retired as host of the news show, “Hardball”, with this evening’s broadcast. He’s not someone I have watched very much, if at all.  Talking over one’s guests isn’t something that would have gone over well, when I was growing up.

He comes to mind for a different reason, though. One of the things he is reported to have said this evening, is that he was sorry for constantly telling the women on his program that they were beautiful.

It took  many years, but a former student of mine pointed out, a bit sarcastically, that this is not the first thing a woman, or a girl for that matter, wants to hear about herself, first.  I began, at that point, to think more of the actual skills the person has, and of how to compliment those.  Beauty is not a skill, so however attractive I might find someone, the sensible thing is to focus on what can keep her in the loop, can help her grow.

We might think, in this month that celebrates Women’s History, of just how far we have come, as a species, in the area of gender relations.  My grandparents’ generation would have been mortified, had women gone out on the street in slacks, less-than-full length skirts or, God-forbid, shorts.  Women rarely drove cars.

My parents’ generation saw women exercising more options, when it came to dress, and certainly most women drove cars.  Working outside the home was one area on which progress was a bit lacking-other than teachers, secretaries, cashiers and nurses.

There was a lot of  “break-out”, both socially and vocationally, with my generation.  The Women’s Liberation Movement took me aback, when I got home from Vietnam, in 1971, though it might not have. Young Vietnamese girls were telling us that they heard “Mi “(American) girls were thinking more for themselves, and therefore they, the Vietnamese, expected to do the same. There was an incident where a girl told me I was not her type.  The other guys at the table about fell out of their seats.  I left her alone; then again, I did that routinely in the States, so it was nothing new, for me. For a girl in southeast Asia, though, it was a big step forward.

When women started opening doors for men, letting us board buses first and talking fiercely about not wanting to be on a pedestal, it began to sink in that this Movement was resulting in lasting change, however maudlin it appeared.  It was the beginning of the end for “Prince Charming”, who actually ended up being a villain in one of the more contemporary Disney films.

That has suited me just fine.  I was married to a woman who eclipsed me, intellectually, and, since her passing, have preferred the company of women friends who have clear goals, and make no excuses for their dreams and their drive-in fact, who make no excuses for anything in their lives.

While there is much to be done, as yet, I would answer the question, “How far have we come, in the area of gender relations?”, by saying how proud I am to be in the company of so many who are sure of themselves and can be persistent, with no fear of being pushed back into the corner.


4 thoughts on “How Far?

  1. Hi teacher,

    I always knew that women ran the world. My parents were both employed by the time I came along in 67. My father also came home from Viet Nam, in not so good shape, but they made it work. The women in my family did all of the heavy lifting, taking care of us while my parents worked. When men were not working, they were drinking heavily and abusing their wives and children, mercilessly. I have a very healthy respect for the way the women in my family saved me when my father went on his murderous streak on me.

    I had very few male teachers across the board through my entire educational run. Once again, women ruled the world. I guess I learned early on how my father and his ilk treated women, and what they said to them in open community. Something I did not adopt. My father used to say lots, for that matter.

    I guess being gay, most of my friends today, are women. That’s a true statement. All of my gay contemporaries, have nothing in common with my back story, (AIDS) and they have, by action, said, that they aren’t interested in socializing with me. So be it. That thought of “Women rule the world” has followed me into my older adult life. In the rooms of Sobriety, Women are a majority here, and seem to be, in certain terms, more sober than their male counterparts, which is why, I guess, I gravitate towards the women.

    I come from a world where women were objects to be criticized, cheated on, and objectified. In my step moms house on holidays, my step father, after the evenings events wound down, would gather the men in the back tv room, and they would screen porn, as the women sat in the dining room and kitchen doing dishes while the men luxuriated with drink in hand and God knows whatever in their pants. I was gay by that point, so, women were not my cup of tea, in sexual terms, so I never involved myself in their behavior.

    My rationale about women is this, “they rule the world” and to shortchange in woman in my world today, is akin to heresy. Where as straight men I socialize with in the rooms, make no bones about their proclivity to sexualize anything that walks by them, (for the most part, most straight men I know think about two things: Drinking and Sex). I stand up for our women, and I love them all dearly, and they know this. I would never disrespect a women, on any terms, by shooting my mouth off. Yet it happens frequently in my social circle.

    All of us men have a past. No one escapes that fact. And today, a man’s past is up for scrutiny. It does not matter how far back that past goes. If you’ve shot your mouth off or said something uncooth, you have a fatter chance at recrimination, than others.

    Like you, I notice a woman’s beauty first. But my conversation pattern follows a certain logic. I’ve learned by schooling of my friends, how to properly converse with them (my friends). I’ve learned that there is a ritual pattern to conversation. And if I miss a social cue, or skip a question, that is supposed to fall, in a certain order, I am quickly redirected to pick up where I left off.

    I was surprised when I clicked on Twitter to find Chris Matthews Sign off. He is of a different ilk all together, and comes from a different time, he is younger than my father, but older than I am. And like I said above, He has a past, and is in tv. Fair game applies.

    I find it interesting to see how social norms have changed on fifty plus years. What is deemed socially acceptable and what is not. And more importantly how women feel about themselves. My mother, for example, was told, never to speak unless spoken to by my father. He abused her just the same as me.

    The women are making lists and taking names. The male chauvinist, sexist, old school, ways of socializing are no more. And now, the men in high places are paying for the past, and I don’t think the women are far from done, in prosecuting their fight for respect and dignity. Men should be on notice.

    Don’t shoot ones mouth off flippantly.


    Liked by 1 person

    • All of what you said here is true. I feel no attraction towards,men, and never have, yet many of my friends are women, and not just the pretty ones. I have just found that women, in general, are kinder, listen more and are more encouraging. I have made my share of boneheaded remarks in the past, for which I paid, dearly, at the time. The effect has been that I outgrew crudeness, long before “#MeToo” forced others to come to grips with their past.


  2. My mother always emphasized my intellect, kindness, and as an add on my beauty. I grew up knowing that brains were something valuable, above looks every time. Sadly there have been men I’ve encountered who don’t prioritize in that order. Seems it is only a pretty face then as a sort of bonus to have a brain. I think if Fox news and what they seem to set as the example…

    Liked by 1 person

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