by Rod Harvey, Gold Coast, Australia
Back in the 60’s, when Bob Dylan was singing ‘The Times They Are A Changing’, the Women’s Liberation Movement was born and rapidly grew in the 70’s and 80’s throughout the western world.
Men watched on as women feminists fought for equality, with some feminists choosing to burn their bras to signify their independence. And what affect did that have on men? We loved it! Nothing like a bra-less woman to stretch the eyeballs.
The revolution brought gradual changes as women fought against oppression and became more independent. We saw gradual increases in women’s wages and sexual freedom, more women in corporate and political positions and sex discrimination became a hot topic.
There was an edge to it, a drive and, dare I say it, many women ‘toughened up’ to compete against men. But there was a fundamental flaw because the revolution alienated men, which is why there hasn’t been a significant change in men’s attitudes. And to this day, the subtle (and at times not so subtle) denigration of women continues.
All around us the signals are obvious: advertising agencies still continue to portray women as sluts to sell products; the major religions are still patriarchal and treat women as second class citizens; the ‘old boys’ clubs still exist in the majority of boardrooms; we see sly inferences and biased reporting about women in media articles (as well as the more obvious page 3 girls to perve on) and we hear snide remarks about women from politicians, workmates and talk-back jocks.
We don’t have to dig deep to sense the tone of what is going on. Observe how men speak to women; the behaviour of many young men when they are with their girlfriends in a group of people; and the accepted norm of how boys treat girls at primary and secondary schools. For many, if not most, respect has flown out the window.
Yet many women are inadvertently not helping the situation.
After all, have you ever heard a woman make comments similar to these?
“Wait ‘til your father comes home.”
“Shhh… your father is sleeping in.”
“Oh he gets angry, but he’s under so much stress.”
“My husband’s a solicitor.”
“A boob job will give me more self-confidence.”
“I look hot in this dress.”
“Every relationship has its problems.”
“It’s not worth the hassle to bring it up – who needs the aggro.”
“I’m too old to find someone else.”
“The magic has gone.”
“Whenever he does jobs around the house he wants sex later.”
“I just wish he would hug me without wanting sex.”
Many women have given their power away and men take advantage. Then, when the woman says ‘enough is enough’, men receive mixed messages and get confused. We need open and honest communication.
So why has it taken so long for me to really feel what is going on?
Recently a group of female Universal Medicine students began to write about the belittlement of women in the media and society. Yet they did so in a different energy to that which we have previously witnessed. This time it was done by women expressing from a foundation of love while standing in their power and there is something beautiful and compelling about that.
Love is what men will respond to, as was expressed so eloquently in Lee Green’s recent post ‘Men: what mess are we truly in?’
Love will open up men to consider their responsibilities in all of this mess and this has made a huge difference for me.
And once my awareness was heightened, I felt deeply into how I had contributed to this crazy consciousness of separation between women and men. Don’t kid yourself that it’s not there – I suggest that all men have played their part.
I then began to pay more attention to what was happening around me, and the signals that I hadn’t really acknowledged before were as obvious as XXXL scrotums on a Great Dane.
Just yesterday I noticed…
- An online ad on a website that appeared to be for a high-class brothel with introductory photos of women, then as the ad progressed, it turned out to be for the new QT Hotel in Sydney.
- Headlines on women’s magazines focusing on diets and women’s body images. ‘New Idea’ and ‘The Women’s Weekly’ used to contain reasonable articles – now it’s about looks and celebrity.
- The Gold Coast Bulletin had a half page article about two women who have started a business to provide tours for ladies who want to have cosmetic surgery in Thailand. Another article had a photo of a female body builder in a micro-bikini ‘pumping iron’.
- And last week, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said Opposition Member Jackie Trad needs to “harden up” and failed to censure fellow Member of Parliament, Ray Stevens, for referring to Ms Trad as “Jihad Jackie”.
So I wrote to the Queensland Premier. A day later I also signed and commented on an online petition to ‘encourage’ the UK’s Sun newspaper to drop their topless page 3 girls. And in future I won’t hold back in discussing these issues with other men and my sons.
I’m not here to be an activist, or to defend women (they can do a good job of that for themselves). But I am now convinced that if we are to accelerate serious change, then men’s support is crucial. Let’s be in it together.
Men, we have much to account for. This is not about paying lip service to women. It’s about reflecting and deeply feeling how each of us has contributed to this pervading consciousness. And with that awareness we will naturally know what to do and say.
By truly engaging with women we’ll discover their essence and how feminine, sexy, playful, loving and amazing they are. How could we possibly belittle that?
The times they are a changing…