Our North American Culture is a study in hypocrisy
The Slut-walk organizers might say that any overture would be unacceptable, but the nude protesters in Montreal can't claim that division between acting on and deciding to turn our eyes. I for one understand the difficulty to turn our eyes and decide not to even acknowledge or look at the suggestive and beautiful (in my eyes) woman (or men for that matter). Our North American society is so twisted in it's desire to blame and punish (I find) that even a simple compliment, in good taste, is almost immediately taken as an insult or worse.
In Europe, this isn't so, because perhaps the female gender is more secure in their sexuality, despite often suffering the difficulties in a far more paternalistic society. These are the dilemmas of Italians, French and other women everywhere, yet there seems to be less visceral anger to even a look, not to mention the far more obvious and potentially insulting cat-call. Unfortunately, this emotionally charged issue often brings-up the anger, resentment and finger pointing minority of women, rather than the more rational and open for discussion majority.
Can a women or a man dress provocatively? Absolutely despite the view of some
We are in a
post modern world in North America where, despite the efforts of
organizations like Slut-walk, to suggest that dressing in a manner that
is revealing of those sexually charged body parts (and some would argue simple physiology like feet) that people can imagine
under clothing, are in fact provided in full view specifically in an
effort to be noticed. Just look at the thousands of magazines on display
at any showcase. Certainly, I agree with Slut-walk that to dress in
such a manner, yes, provocatively for some (such as for my wife and I
when our teenage girls want to go clubbing or to a concert dressed
bearing their navels, or with low cut tops that are see through, etc...)
and for their own self-confidence for others, does not give a green
light to aggressive behavior, which again is different to each person
(some may find a long look offensive, while others wouldn't even notice
Despite some peoples desire to use physiology and hormones as an excuse, the reality is that hormonal differences are factual and based in real science. The genders are different. We do think somewhat differently and we have to manage that difference everyday in a complementary manner as a species. To deny this is to be naive and uninformed. However, to deny that we as thinking and evolved higher mammals can use this as an excuse to behave in an accepted manner in our culture is equally naive and uninformed. Unfortunately, when a supposed role model like Lindsay Lohan (many would be correct in noting that she is a poor role model) struts around without underwear in a revealing mini-dress, I hardly believe most female or males can be demonized for looking at that example of what is wrong with an element of our society. As a father of five young teenage girls and a 20 year elementary school teachers husband, I have some reference to frame my responses, my wife being an MA in family therapy and my ex-wife being a family therapist and counselor for teenage girls and young women suffering from eating disorders.The bottom line is we all know that Ms. Lohan's behavior is a cry for help that has yet to be answered properly.
Lawyers always have to have their say and bag of cash
Ah... the lawyers!
Don't get me started on the lack of tort reform. I grew up in Canada and
have lived in the US for almost 20 years and the clear difference is
how the US is run and directed by the desires of the legal profession,
often pitting one group against another to continue arguments and keep
generating fees ( I went through an ugly divorce and the ones that
suffered the most beyond the two parties, of course our children, owe
this in large part to the lawyers who should be damned for stirring the
pot under the guise of protecting each one of the opposing parties
rights. By the way, our government is doing this now using the Patriot
act under the guise of security, but don't get me started on the waste
of resources and civil liberties that has and will cause going
My first young experience with an element of this discussion was when I went to MBA school with a bunch of other alpha personalities. I remember opening the door for a fellow schoolmate who immediately told me she was offended and thought it a complete waste of energy for me to open the door for her when she was perfectly capable of doing it herself. This was in 1989. I had been raised by a British father who believed in being polite, if somewhat dated. When I moved to the United States, I was reminded of this episode when I told a younger colleague in investment banking that she could ask me questions at any time, when she apologized for interrupting me with a question. She then proceeded to claim sexual harassment (in 1993) which I was absolutely shocked about and quite literally depressed as I was a young married man, unfamiliar with the competitiveness and frankly meanness of the culture of money on Wall Street. This same culture has seeped into the gender discussion, with the hatred and loathing of some women quickly reacting to even the slightest gesture by a man, who in many cases is terrified to approach a woman (rightly so it would appear).
Pitting men and women against each-other
I introduced this subject because the company I work for, Couples Company, which is run by an award winning international journalist, Laura Lewis, often covers these issues as it pertains to different cultures (she covers a good part of the Middle East) as well as women's issues from a variety of perspectives. What I notice today is that as almost 20 years ago some of the same visceral, reactionary protection oriented discussion is flung about willy-nilly with some of the people that are colleagues and allies in the same effort to bring our society to the next level of consideration and thoughtfulness that both men and women have outlined so well within this discussion.
How to kill your husband
We assume that all people engender the same level of desire to interact positively and with an effort to bring about the best in everyone and that, unfortunately is very far from the truth. What I've learned in almost 5 decades of existence and in a variety of industries is that there are a minority of thoughtful people especially in cases when we are dealing with gender equality, education and a desire to provide our girls the self-assuradeness and confidence for a life that focuses on their own development and not having "it all" as in the 1950's and reflected in a recent book by British author Kathy Lette "How to Kill Your Husband and Other Handy Household Hints". Now while Ms. Lette is condemning men in general, she doesn't miss the opportunity to support the development of girls to women as people who hold their own destiny's and despite not agreeing with her that men should be exorcised from the lives of women if they aren't absolute cheerleaders of everything a woman wants or feels she needs, I do share some of her insights regarding the need for mutual support, trust, education and communication, because that of all things to me, is the most important aspect of any relationship and until one or the other gender figures out how not to live with the other, then we will be stuck trying to figure it out, hormones and all.