Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane, co-author Rainy Day Thought, where they write about experiences, ideas, nature, creativity, and culture. The latter might appear at times political, but we will try to avoid partisanship to speak to the broader issues that impact a culture. This is just too important a time not to sometimes speak to problems that impact society. As she and I do, readers will find we often disagree and have for over 50 years-- still able to be close friends. You can do that if you can be agreeable that we share more than not despite the difference.

Diane posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments, relating to the topic, are welcome as it turns an article into a discussion, but must be in English, with no profanity, hate-filled comments, or links (unless pre-approved).

Fantasy, the painting by Diane Widler Wenzel, cropped a little to fit the needs of a banner.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Me Too

by Rain Trueax

March Sunset from our desert home

Before I start on MeToo, I wanted to let readers here know that I have a free book at Amazon for Kindles. This is one of the benefits of making my books exclusive to Amazon (as well as that it can be borrowed for Kindle Unlimited members). So, if you have never tried a mystical realism novel, this is your chance for free-- Dangerous Match. It is supposed to show up free Saturday and Sunday but be sure it is before you hit buy.


While I no longer watch MSNBC for news, I used to have it as my go-to source. Even then, I wasn't fond of Chris Mathews. Something about his style of reporting turned me off. Still, when I read that he was forced out of his job there due to the MeToo movement, I read more about what exactly had happened.

Evidently, he said things he was not supposed to say to women and then about Bernie Sanders. I won't go into the political comment but the ones to women were what interested me as I've followed this movement to get justice for women... or was it that?

From what I read (if readers know more, please comment below), Matthews made the mistake of telling women they were beautiful or that he could fall in love with them. They were flirty comments, not groping and not really more than was common at one time between men and women where nothing more was intended.

MeToo changed all of that. In some cases, the change was welcome and appropriate-- should have happened years earlier. When Bill Cosby raped women he had drugged, this isn't just inappropriate. It's a crime and he deserves to be in prison for it. Harvey Weistein is more dicey as did he rape them or use his position of power to seduce what a woman would not naturally have given him? Where some of the women maintained flirty and even sexual relationships with him, it became a he said she said for many. He sounds like a total pig but so did many who ran Hollywood studios in their heyday. People accepted the casting couch as part of the world. Not all the women who got ahead in that world went through it but probably too many did. They felt abused and justifiably so, but it was a sort of contractual arrangement that most walked into knowing how it worked.

It wasn't always that way. There is a story out there about Natalie Wood, that when she was a fifteen or sixteen year-old starlet, she was raped by a major star. He did it to teach her a lesson supposedly. She went back to her mother and was told to never tell anyone or it'd ruin her chances in Hollywood. The attack meant she needed medical care and doctor also was sworn to secrecy.The big star went on to greater stardom. She ended up needing therapy and with a drinking problem that may have contributed to her death by drowning. Did that big star ever feel guilt for what he'd done? Seems unlikely given he died recently and received much acclaim for all his good works. Why don't I name him? Well, because men often got protected back then if they were valuable enough to the studios. Why are they still protected? They aren't but some are. The following two links exploring possible reasons why.

So where does that leave us today? Well, rape should be punished and it is-- sometimes. Is it in Hollywood today? Maybe with Weinstein but how many more are out there and getting away with it based on their power, which is both through their movies but also to whom they donate. The second link gives the dark side to Hollywood-- not necessarily connected to any one person but a whole system.

What about Chris Matthews? Was what he said to women not a big deal, or does is it bad enough that it deserves a man's reputation being trashed and losing his job?  Bill O'Reilly lost his at Fox, but it was for harassment and maybe rape (do you pay off a woman to the tune of $30 million when it's not something huge). But did Matthews actually lose his job for another crime-- old age?

Is MeToo about too much power in men or something deeper in our society like an uncertainty-- even today as to what is appropriate? What men once saw as acceptable now is not because a woman might be uncomfortable with it. Why is she uncomfortable?

When I was in college, I considered changing my major to psychology. I went to the psych professor, who I had admired. He told me that it'd be a mistake. He said that I was too pretty and would get married before I got out of college making the degree of no value. At the time, it did not intimidate me, nor did I feel flattered. I considered he was just saying it as he saw it. Today, a prof who said such a thing could lose his tenured position.Times change.

I have more to say on this topic-- from the perspective of an old woman. 
I'll save it for next Saturday.


Tabor said...

Regarding Mathews I do not know if he should have lost his job. Maybe they could have forced a public apology. I do know that sexual harrasment can seriously affect a person's sense of self-worth, their track toward career success and perhaps impact mental health for alltheir life, whether male , female, trans, Bi...etc. I once said something to my daughter years ago about someone being Oriental. She prompltly corrected me and said that word was improper. I was at a loss but made sure I did not use it again. Mores change and we have to change as well. The Metoo movement is long overdue.

Rain Trueax said...

I agree on harassment, which is why others like O'Reilly deserved to lose their jobs. I have yet to hear if Matthews went that far or was it just compliments?

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

Interesting about the psychology professor telling you that changing your major to psychology would be a mistake because you would get married before finishing and the degree making it of no value. He probably would have said my degree in drawing and painting would be of no value even though I earned it. Certainly not all the interactions I had with Portland State College educators were nurturing pearls to cherish. Even in the art department.

Rain Trueax said...

Today, a prof would not dare say that or he'd lose his job or be sued. He did not though influence my choice.

Annie said...

As a young girl I was molested by a neighbour, when I told my parents about it they disbelieved me and continued to be friends with that man. As a teenager I was raped on my way home from school. After the event I straightened my clothes and walked home trying to think how to deal with this. I already knew that my parents would not believe me or if they did they would blame me and my father had a bad temper. So I resolved to say nothing to anyone not even my closest girlfriend. I bore a huge load of shame for being so stupid as to get myself molested and raped. I had a job where my boss was a fairly powerful man in the academic world and he took every advantage of that. As a single mother of two children (surprise surprise I was incapable of staying married to a man) I could not afford to lose that job but the constant shame and fear ended up making me so sick that my doctor forced me to quit the job. I was in danger of losing custody of my children.

I know from personal experience the huge amount of courage it takes to speak up against sexual conduct when you are in an inferior position of power as most women still are both in their families and in the workplace. For every woman who lies about the abuse or uses sex to gain some advantage there are at least a hundred who suffer in silence and shame because they don't dare put their own lives and/or the lives of their children at risk. The fact that some prominent women, mostly actresses, have launched serious complaints in the #MeToo movement is a huge moment for me, a kind of light at the end of the tunnel. Women have precious few role models to look up to and actresses and musicians are prominent among them. We don't have very many political or business or scientific or academic female role models, actresses are pretty much it. When they stand up and admit their shame--because that is exactly what it is--then there is hope for a multitude of women, including myself.

Rain Trueax said...

Good thoughts, Annie. I had the opposite experience regarding my parents concerns about sexual abuse. When I was very little, Mom watched like a hawk when an old man seemed too taken with me. She remembered her grandmother's boyfriend, who did molest her sisters, and when her grandmother found out, she kicked the man to the curb. BUT no legal charges back then and that would be different today-- we'd hope. My daughter had a good friend in college who was raped by a guy she thought was a best friend and although it required medical treatment, the girl did not press charges as it was still harder to get date rape charges to stick. I think there are many good things about the MeToo movement but does it sometimes go too far when someone loses a job over saying a woman is pretty but doesn't go beyond that?

Rain Trueax said...

I should have said 'strong' thoughts as those experiences are not good but good to be said.

Joared said...

That is a gorgeous sunset! I didn’t watch MSNBC, only occasionally was exposed to Matthews on other programs or special news interviews. My impressions were he sometimes seemed to get a little too worked-up on matters for what appeals to me in a newsperson’s (man or woman) delivery. I haven’t paid that much attention to the specifics that resulted in his firing but would wonder what might not be public knowledge. Certainly he came from a generation of broadcasters for whom the attitudes toward women in the business who were few as colleagues and treated more as underlings. Often relating to women by some of these men seemed to consist primarily within the context of sexual comment that might or might not be intended to be taken seriously — underlings jobs could hinge on how they coped with this. The men viewed their own behavior and words as acceptable. It can be difficult to describe the effects over time how women subjected to this might react when they finally feel they can honestly express themselves about such experiences and someone will actually listen — perhaps revealing long-simmering instances that went too far. I’ve been disappointed when several broadcasters I liked were fired as I thought they were above such behavior. They probably would have preferred to have left without public revelations of specifics.