2018: Year of the Woman?

RIP Penny Marshall

Some called last year the Year of the Woman. There are good justifications for the phrase, the recent election, what’s happened in the #MeToo movement, but Christine Blasey Ford might have an opinion on how far we have to go.

With President Obama, we were confronted with the reality that, despite progress, racism is very much alive in our culture. The past year or two has spotlighted an identical dichotomy with regard to gender. Politically, socially, and personally, we seem to become ever more divided in ever more ways.

As a white male I can speak on the core of sexism or racism only from the outside, but as a member of a group perceived to be a key source of the problems in the first place, raising my voice in support seems crucial.

Finding the words seems unusually hard here. (Every sentence is like squeezing water from a rock.) Everything is from my perspective (even this paragraph).

Trying to speak for the perspective of others, especially others with significantly different key life experiences, seems presumptuous, if not arrogant.

(A blogger I know commented, negatively, on the impossibility of taking the common phrase, “If I were you,…” literally. It’s impossible to really know what anyone else’s experience is like.)

So, with the caveat that I’m stuck in my own white aging head, I do have some things to say under the rubric Women in 2018.

§

For me, an obvious, if sad, way to start is to commemorate the death of Penny Marshall, popularly known for playing Laverne DeFazio on Laverne & Shirley.

Many also know her as director and producer of some pretty good films. She directed Big and Awakenings, for example. Of interest for this blog post is another film she directed: A League of Their Own.

Which comfortably sits in my Top Five Favorite baseball movies. It’s absolutely my favorite movie about women’s baseball.

Plus: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Lori Petty, and Jon Lovitz. Need I say more?

Okay, more: It’s preserved in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, because women’s baseball was really a thing, and this movie, while fictionalized (and delightful), is also historical.

Which brings me to why I wanted to mention this here. It’s not just because the movie is about women, or about women “invading” male territory. It has a scene — not a scene, a moment — that catches my heart every time.

Pay close attention to everyone’s facial expressions:

At the time (1943), there was a racial divide in baseball. Jackie Robinson (#42!) wouldn’t “break the color line” until 1947. (But for the record, Moses Walker was the actual first black Major League baseball player.)

Negro League baseball had been around for decades, but there were no options for black women. Who, as this scene points out, can throw a ball as good as anyone. Just check out the distance on that throw (over Dottie’s head).

The looks they give each other say it all.

RIP, Penny Marshall.

§

The moniker, Year of the Woman, actually belongs to 1992 when a notable number of women were elected to the Senate.

Vox magazine has an article about how sexual misconduct is a driver both times. I can’t help but be sad it takes a reaction, a strong negative reaction, for women (and their supporters) to really push back.

It’s like the progressive modern hero who needs to be hit again and again until, finally, the anger rises and the real fight, the heroic fight, begins. (And the hero always wins, because grit and determination always succeeds. If you’re the hero.)

Why isn’t it obvious a population of roughly half women, half men, and in fact with women in slight majority, has to be governed by like bodies?

Why isn’t this something we all demand?

As a Minnesotan, I’m proud that we have Senator Amy Klobuchar, who’s pretty cool. You may have seen her during the Kavanaugh hearings.

(We’re also the only state in the region who voted for Bernie or who didn’t fall for Trump, despite the best efforts of our rural citizens. The metro area is big and progressive.)

§

We used to have Senator Al Franken, a loss I have mixed feelings about. (We also used to have Governor Jessie Ventura. Whole other mixed feelings. 😀 )

Franken’s fail, to me, seems more in the infantile jackass area than in the predatory creep (let alone criminal assault) area, which I’m not sure warrants the loss of his seat. (Actual assault can result in community service or fine.)

That said, I don’t know the guy. It could be he is a major creep, even predatory. I don’t know what it was like for women to be around him.

On the presumption he was just an infantile goofball with no sense (a description that fits far too many adult men for my taste, so it’s possible), his case illustrates how a right thing can go wrong when we over-react.

§

This gets us into one of the most fraught areas of gender.

Unlike the racial divide, which is ultimately just a paint job difference, the gender divide involves functional differences linked to our emotions and sex drive.

Sexual attraction changes the equation. It’s no longer just about people with minor varieties in appearance, it’s about people you might want to date or be with permanently.

This is yet another area where our cultural belief in the primacy of our emotions over our intellect gets us into trouble. We believe, deep inside, that we just can’t help ourselves.

Which is fine, I guess, if you’re okay with being Pavlov’s Dog.

§

Which brings me to someone like Louis C.K.

His crime, and apparently this is a thing some men do, is that he masturbated in front of unwilling women.

Which I gotta say absolutely boggles my mind. I can’t even begin to understand the thinking there. The narcissism alone is astonishing.

The one thing I can think of that makes (some small) sense (no, not sense, logic) is that, in porn, women masturbating is definitely a thing. Guys are very visual. And lazy. So it’s a thing.

Do these guys actually think it works the other way around?

My own gender mystifies me sometimes. (Let alone others.)

§

What’s funny to me is that I never liked Louis C.K. or found his comedy at all funny. Maybe a chuckle here or there, but mostly it baffled me that my friends kept touting him.

Something about him turned me off, is all I can say.

Guess what other hugely popular person has always turned me off? No, not Kevin Spacey, I was okay with him, really like him in American Beauty and, of course, Usual Suspects. (Never watched House of Cards.)

Neil deGrasse Tyson. Never liked that guy; always thought he was a creep.

There’s a series of YouTube videos of the annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate. It’s been hosted by deGrasse Tyson, and each year various guests discuss the year’s topic.

The guests and the topics are fascinating, but deGrasse Tyson often makes them hard to watch. His interruptions are grating, his jokes pathetic, and his body language downright creepy in how he hovers and touches.

These are things I felt watching these long before the news about him, so it didn’t surprise me much. I was more, like, “Ah, ha.”

§

Another one that felt less than surprising, but personally disappointing, was the accusations against Michael Weatherly, formerly of NCIS, now starring in Bull.

I’ve been a little iffy on the show’s content from the beginning; there is something unseemly about the jury games they play. (I understand it happens in real life. I think it’s unseemly there, too.)

It sounds, basically, that Weatherly is another infantile idiot. Perhaps he is too good-looking and too successful to have developed character and depth.

Again, I’m an outsider not knowing what really happened, how all the people involved felt, what their motivations are, but the more I hear, the less I feel like watching the show.

(CBS and I are not doing well together. More on the brink of divorce. If I dump Bull, it’ll be NCIS and Madam Secretary, and I’m actually getting a little iffy on the former.)

§

In a post about women, I speak about men.

It’s all I can speak about, really.

Voice my disdain for these behaviors, voice my disrespect for these men, these creeps and predators.

Guys, we gotta do better.

Trust me on this, I’ve lived it.

The world is a better place when women are our partners, our co-workers, and our friends.

Yang to the Yin, ya gotta have both.

§

For whatever it’s worth, I have two “bumper stickers” thoughts to propose. Call them mantras for men (but smart enough for a woman):

Women don’t need men’s help,
But they appreciate our support.

And:

Having a dick does not mean being a dick.

Unless your name is Richard.

(Or maybe I’m full of crap and being presumptuous and arrogant.)

§

On the topic of names, I’ve played with new versions of the World Wide Web (WWW):

  • Wild, Wild Web
  • Weird, Wacky Web
  • Why Women Weep
  • Why We (all) Weep

It’s a hell of a tool, and a great toy, but I do wonder at the cost sometimes.

§

In any event, 2018, from Christine Ford to Penny Marshall to Stephanie Clifford to Roseanne Barr to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to all the women of 2018.

My wish for you, and us all, is a happy, secure, productive, and less divisive 2019.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

One response to “2018: Year of the Woman?

  • Wyrd Smythe

    A friend suggested maybe people are just tired of gender analysis at this point, and no one wants to even read about it, let alone comment.

    Could be, I guess. I feel bad the post isn’t worthy. Ya try to take a stand and no one gives a shit. Some even seem irritated you tried.

    Oh, well. Post has a comment now, if I do say so myself. 😀

%d bloggers like this: