I have vivid memories of times in colleagues’ offices or conference rooms, hearing really horrible, inappropriate jokes that were sexist or at my expense “blondixt” in nature. I laughed out loud, because they were funny to me. I still giggle a bit when I remember some of those times.
If I go back even further to my days as a scrappy youth, I remember being out past the time the street lights came on (because I’m a rebel like that) and being dirty and worn out from climbing hills and rock piles without a parent present.
I ate McDonald’s, drank Pepsi, and HoHo’s were my go-to snack. Man, now I want HoHos. Not A HoHo, like the entire box, please.
I lived the life.
I was blissfully ignorant.
I have fond memories of an uninhibited time. The freedom to do or say what we wanted was abundant. I loved the feeling that I could do or say anything. I could eat all the junk food with no consequence. (Ok, that is my last mention of food. I just miss all of that yummy goodness.)
I’m sure many of you feel the same way. You harken back to the days when it felt like we were all free. The nostalgia hits you and you want to change the current state of the world and tell every to just go back to the good ol’ days.
I understand your desire, I often have it. So why can’t we just do that? A man was elected President on that premise.
Well, simply, we shouldn’t. One detail no one can afford to miss hangs out there… especially if you believe in being treated fairly and humanely.
The good ol’ days were not good for all.
Subjects I could dive into keep swimming around in my head. I could try to tackle racism, sexism, sexual assault/abuse/harassment. I could throw facts out about how many women were NOT in management or higher level positions in the “good ol’ days”. I could talk about how we are still struggling with equality for people of color, and how in the “good ol’ days” there was no voice for them, at least not in the establishment.
I could talk about how women were expected to raise the kids, as if they didn’t want to do anything else in life. The belief was cleaning toilets and making all the meals were just a few desires genetically engineered in them, and they should be happy they don’t have to work.
I can talk about how children were silent about attacks or abuses because they did not have voices. I can talk about how they still are, but at least the grown ups are starting to talk about their childhoods. Not once did I hear about this in the “good ol’ days”.
Speaking of abuse, I read something today as I was reading through all the latest victims of sexual abuse and assault coming forward. I wasn’t surprised. I had no strong reaction. Here it is:
Kevin Spacey finally has someone sticking up for him in public, though the thoughts expressed by 85-year-old author Gay Talese aren’t going over well. “Jesus, suck it up once in a while,” he said of the accusations at a function for the New York Public Library. “I feel so sad, and I hate that actor that ruined this guy’s career,” said Talese, referring to actor Anthony Rapp, who broke the scandal open by recounting how Spacey tried to have a sexual encounter with him when Rapp was just 14.(Source: Newser, John Johnson)
This doesn’t sum up the “good ol’ days”, but man, it comes pretty close.
Oppressors believe the oppressed should suck it up. If you were stronger, like them, you wouldn’t be the oppressed. See? That is how society works.
Talese is essentially saying, “Hey, we’re just having a little fun. Come on, get over it.”
Who’s having the fun? The 14-year old boy? Women being forced to have sex or watch a man play with their… well, you know… in front of them as they are backed into a corner?
You all know my story, and I’m sure you would agree when it happened to me from the ages of 4-9 years, you really can’t blame me. However, when a person is a victim, you can’t blame any of them. You can’t say, “suck it up once in a while”. (Yes, I know how that sounds, moving on…)
I think most people can understand that point. Sexual abuse and assault isn’t widely defended, although victim blaming is still a huge problem.
However, when you ask people to stop the jokes about people of certain ethnicities, women, or those in the LGBTQ community, the Clint Eastwoods of the world come out and say anyone hurt by the words are pussies. Yes, he said pussy. Because, well, they could say that in the good ol’ days, and apparently in 2016.
I can’t tell you how often I heard jokes at my expense. Department head meetings, show meetings, planning meetings… ok, most meetings… let’s change the venue… in the hall, the elevator, in TV or movies. The sexist jokes were everywhere. Most of the time I thought they were funny.
How? How could I find them funny?
I considered the source.
Unfortunately, there were those who weren’t joking. Also, there are jokes that aren’t funny, even if the person saying it “doesn’t mean anything by it”. There are things that should never be said, but still are. The current President is making some believe it is ok to be racist and sexist.
Hang with me a moment here, while I go on a tangent about something in my “good ol’ days”. I remember when Howard Stern came on to the scene. He was foul-mouthed, and gross. He demeaned women, and took advantage of those women who want fame so bad, they are ok with being reduced to sex objects. I remember a discussion or two about Stern and how intelligent he was. I was told I needed to tune out the penis and breast discussions to hear some really smart insights on the state of the world. I’ll mention one here: his suggestion that road construction is done at night or the weekends. More states are taking up that idea and it works. So, let’s not pay attention to the sexist, disgusting stuff he says, because he is smart? Let him be shitty to women, because he has some good ideas? Um, I’ll just leave that there.
So, here we are, trying to correct so many wrongs in our history, and in our present. We should. We have to. I will join any fight where we free the oppressed, change perceptions, and create more empathy.
If we all do that, my dream would be my kids will grow up believing they are living the “good ol’ days”, and we will see a world where people are no longer judged by skin color or gender or sexual identity or social status.
We’ll just be judged by whether we are idiotic, unsympathetic, jerks.