So friends have responded to my query about the Weinstein/Trump monstrosities and each has a different understanding and focus – it is fascinating. I have learned so much and have applied it to my life with surprising results which you will hear about in the days to follow. .
A woman friend brought up a very interesting point. “ Yes, Harvey Weinstein has been a rat for years, but then everyone has heard about the Hollywood “couch” since the beginning of Hollywood. Maybe it’s finally met its end. I’m sorry to say, but the other side of that coin is that women want to attract the attention of men (though definitely not the unwanted attention) and many sold their morality for the possibility of fame. If women had reported Weinstein at the beginning, he wouldn’t have been able to hurt so many. But I understand that they were afraid, for whatever reasons. It’s never okay to extort sex for success. The rapes should have been reported to the police. Even if the women didn’t get the job or the part or whatever, at least Weinstein would have been in jail all those years, and the women would probably have had closure much earlier in their lives. So sad that our culture puts up with that–that men are taught at an early age that it’s okay to be misogynists. Hopefully, the tide is changing, however slowly, for the better.
Friend Bruce made several intelligent comments. The first, slightly obvious, but it had not occurred to me prior to reading this response. “In the old days, women were protected from much of this stuff by male family members and it is still the case in much of the world. But western society has sifted from this model to one of female independence where the former protections are no longer in place. We have to find a way to other forms of social control. It is going to be a very hard shift to make because we are attempting to move away from biological presses that, in an evolutionary sense, have not had to be controlled internally. The protectors of females kept other males in line for the most part. The price paid was a suppression of female independence. Not so good for the women, we now think.”
I realize (with chagrin) that one reason I did not think of male family members as protectors is that my father was the enemy – he was one of them. And actually, I am tougher than my two brothers. A professional woman, when learning of my past, said: “No wonder you became a lawyer!” I thought I just stumbled upon the law as a career choice but the good old unconscious might have been doing some undercover work.
Bruce said another protection for women is that wonderful (and somewhat rare) trait called empathy. “Last summer we ‘talked’ about men in power having diminished capacity to empathize with those around them. Empathy is about the only thing that will stop one of these powerful men from making a move on a less powerful female. If there is an empathy deficit, they simply push forward wanting what they want. Indeed, they expect women to want it from them because they are powerful. There is nothing new in any of this but what is new is the developing conviction among women that this is not a valid state of affairs.” Bruce had referred me to articles in The Atlantic, so I went back to the source. Jeffrey Useem in the July/August reported that not only is empathy rare but rich and powerful men loose it after gaining power.
Useem began by using the example of Stumpe of Wells Fargo fame. At hearings Stumpe was “utterly unable to read a room” and did not appear to be chastened or remorseful”. What was going on in his head? New research suggests what wasn’t is the better question.
The article began humorously “Power has its side effects. It can intoxicate. It can corrupt. It can even make Henry Kissinger believe he is sexually magnetic. But can it cause brain damage? The article answered the question in the affirmative, Dr. Ketner at UC Berkeley found that power has the same effect as brain trauma and that individuals in positions of power over time become more impulsive, less risk aversive and most crucially – less adept at seeing things from another point of view. There are many reasons for this but the powerful stop mimicking other’s behaviors and there are functional brain changes. A lively quote caught my eye: “Hubris syndrome is a disorder of the possession of power.” Most well written articles leave the reader with a measure of hope. This one did and postulated the theory of toe-holder as a “hubris resisting force”. The toe holder is a person who brings the person in power back down to earth.
Two examples were provided: Clementine Churchill did it with hubby Winston and Howe did it to President Franklin Roosevelt. I call the “hubric resisting force” SASS.
Discerning readers will question why Bruce and I were discussing “empathy deficit” last summer. (New readers are alerted to the fact that Bruce is an old friend (since 19) and is a retired professor of psychology). I became involved in a non-sexual relationship with a man of immense power and wealth but Bruce warned that ‘empathy deficit’ would do it, and me, in.
His prophecy proved true, but I have recovered. During the months of the relationship boy, did I SASS. It was the first time the rich man had ever been sassed during his whole life, I know that for a fact. But the toe-holder let go.
But in more conventional terms empathy works as a deterrent to unwelcome sexual advances. Married empathetic men would not stray as they empathize with the pain their straying would cause their wives and would empathize with the pain a temporary relationship would cause the object of their desires. So they would be out of the population of sexual predators. It should come as no purpose to anyone that my father was clearly NOT empathetic.
So enough of that until now – ensuing posts will talk about my counting the number of unwelcome sexual advances that I have accumulated in the last two years of my life. Then a friend with the nickname of “The F. guy” will add his knowledge and insight into the matter at hand.
The photo is me taken at the Inspiration Lab at the Vancouver Public Library. I went to an Introduction class there on Friday and got tremendously inspired. The staff is so helpful and incredibly informed. I went thinking of doing a podcast but became even more inspired. I did a stand up comedy routine at a pub in London. I have the audio tape somewhere and I could use the studio with the green background and recreate the scene. Cousin Gail was there that night. I had always wanted to be a stand up comedian and when I saw a three day course offered in London i enrolled and bravely did an open mike night at the corner pub. Never again!! It felt like I was prostituting my sense of humor. But it would be jolly to recreate it. Right now I cannot remember what I wore but I can call Cousin Gail and ask. I posted the picture on Instagram where I can be found as alexismctwit.