Have you ever felt you should be somewhere else but not sure where? I was like that yesterday. I was busy. I wrote, as always. I worked on a couple of business documents for a friend, I wrote a letter to Sasha and I even went to hire my dress suit for Ben and Hannah’s wedding in April. I was occupied and busy but there was always the feeling that I should be somewhere else.
Yesterday I wrote about the romantic aspect of International Women’s Day and I believe quite rightly I concentrated on the reasons why the travesties such as the gender pay gap and sexual harassment needed to be sorted. I railed against the likes of Weinstein who used their power to demand sexual favours. Let’s be clear, I have no truck with anyone who discriminates against women or treats them as second-class citizens.
However, there was one critical comment about the piece. It was a nagging doubt I had as I wrote and wondered if it fitted into the tone. The last paragraph said:
Women are our purpose and inspiration. They give us our mental strength. They are the centre of a family while feckless men waste their lives. And I haven’t even mentioned the beauty they bring to the world. When men stay logical women bring passion. When men are fickle women give direction.
It was the sentence, bring beauty to the world, that caused the comment. I had ruined a good article I was told. I was perpetuating the notion of women as sex objects.
Then I read a piece on the BBC. It was an interview with Susan Sarandon, the actor. While being interviewed, On International Women’s Day, Susan Sarandon also told 5 live that there will “always be a casting couch” in Hollywood. “I think what will go away is the unwanted exchange. But I think that giving yourself sexually or being drawn to power and wanting to have sex with someone that’s in power, is also a choice. What we don’t want to have is being exploited and have the Harvey Weinsteins of the world holding it over your head and holding it over your project. “That is the most despicable.”
There a woman has finally said it. We all have choices.
Sasha would agree and I am sure she is just one of many, many women who feel the same.
Sasha works, and she works hard with management and leadership responsibilities. She is determined and makes her own decisions. She would be appalled if she ever learnt that a man was being paid more for doing the same job. She would have a well-placed knee for anyone who tried it on with her. I haven’t asked her, but I would guess that she is right behind the #MeToo and all the other similar campaigns.
On the other hand, she expects to be treated as a woman and that is different from men. She likes traditional roles.
She likes it when I open the car door for her. I will go further. She expects me to open a door for her. She thinks I should sort out the bill in a restaurant. She dresses beautifully, and she dresses to impress. To my eye at least she brings her own, unique beauty to the world and I am not going to apologise if that is thought as sexist.
She is not always strong. There are times when she feels vulnerable and needs a comforting hug. When she messages me and says, each day I start with thoughts about you and this morning I want you to be here. You have to take care of your Sasha and make me feel warm and protected, I have never felt that she is betraying the ‘movement’.
We need to be careful where we want this ‘political correctness’ to end.
Workplaces need to be professional, but they also need to be friendly, otherwise few of us would turn up every day. Some banter can be hurtful but in a properly managed environment it is humorous and nothing more. The micro-society of the office or factory must self-manage the line.
Bullying is bullying and always needs to be stopped at source but sometimes management needs to be firm and it can’t always be cuddly. There are lines that shouldn’t be crossed but when they are an apology should be given and accepted.
Rape is rape and an abhorrence. I want to say that there are no grey areas, although I suspect there may be. In 2015, California introduced new law around affirmative consent. Here is an extract from The New York Times in 2014 from a school education meeting.
Consent from the person you are kissing — or more — is not merely silence or a lack of protest, Shafia Zaloom, a health educator at the Urban School of San Francisco, told the students. They listened raptly, but several did not disguise how puzzled they felt.
“What does that mean — you have to say ‘yes’ every 10 minutes?” asked Aidan Ryan, 16, who sat near the front of the room.
“Pretty much,” Ms. Zaloom answered. “It’s not a timing thing, but whoever initiates things to another level has to ask.”
Not everything in the past was good, but we might not be building a perfect future.
Think about the sexual objectification of women in advertising. In the whole and the round, it is not clever and gives the wrong message to children as they grow. It encourages the wrong behaviour.
However, when we are out to dinner sometimes I will sit back and look at Sasha as she laughs and talks to her friends. I can see her anew and always think she is beautiful and yes, sexy. If that is objectification, then I am guilty as charged.
If a man wants to go to a strip club to watch a naked woman dance and she wants to be watched then so be it. And if a woman wants to go to a strip club to look at a naked man then good on her.
There is not an ounce of disagreement that there needs to be mutual consent before any sexual activity, but just getting to that point in a relationship requires social engagement involving talking, flirting, body language and maybe even opening doors and sending flowers.
The world of human interaction is fraught with danger. We are now so politically correct that we are in danger of removing all the spontaneity, humour, and joy of life.
There are many women who want their men to be strong and protect them with their love. They like the traditional values but rightly they insist that added to all the male characteristics is included, respect. With respect, none of the sins of the past will ever be repeated.
But back to where I started this piece. On International Women’s Day I should have been looking after and caring for my strong, determined, vulnerable, beautiful, and yes sexy Sasha with as many romantic gestures as I could muster.
And you know what, she will flirt, tease, and seduce me with her beauty and sexiness. She doesn’t feel guilty. Nor do I. She hasn’t let down any feminist movement.
We have a choice. And I know I should have been in Kiev.