Fox News is showing its ass again, and in a sense even more graphically than before. While sexual harassment is wreaking havoc in the organization, one low-level unimportant talking head with a background of obnoxious behavior recently felt the liberty to utilize a vulgar sexual innuendo in reference to Ivanka Trump. And just today Bill Shine, a network co-president, was forced to resign because of his tacit approval of the atmosphere of sexual tyranny in Fox News. (See link— http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/04/28/fox-friends-news-psychology-appeal-conservative-media-215044)
What these incidents reveal is the smugness, the unquestioned assumption that men are in power and they can do and say what they will with women. And, I grew up in this culture…as most of us did…and treating women as an object was totally acceptable. I worked in a factory in the early 70’s and women on our team learned to live with Penthouse and Playboy “spreads” of naked women on the walls of the office. The women, who were usually “objects” of the male gaze, had to accustomize themselves to walking into the office where breasts and “gaping” genital spreads were conspicuously posted on the walls. This was a way of reminding these women, remember when you look at these pictures, “This is your place, this is where your value lies.” I am not without complicity. Though I was very young and too timid to actively participate in the implicit objectification of my female colleagues, subjectively I did. Women were “things” and we men had the prerogative of owning these “things” and using them for satisfaction, be it in our imagination, or in the closet of the break room, or in the parking lot during break time or lunch break.
Now, objectification is part of human experience and I am comfortable with the male emphasis of viewing women as objects. We are all objects in some sense. But what is often missing is the complementary understanding that these “objects” have a reality of their own and do not exist merely as a “thing” to toy with and “amuse” ourselves with. The objectification is a necessary part of human experience but it is possible, and imperative upon us, to realize that the “object” of our desire is also a “subject.” One dimension of this relationship is to grasp, cognitively and emotionally, that these objects of our desire have a subjective reality and find violation as, shall we say, “difficult.” But in traditional culture, this “difficulty” is not an issue and the man’s role is to “take it” and the woman’s role is to “submit to it .” This is because women are mere objects and men, being the subject in the universe, can only relate to them as the object. The subjective experience of the women is totally over looked and the violation of her “space” is even an essential element of the engagement.
What is the solution? Well, the solution is underway as sexual politics have changed and in the bedroom, I suspect the dynamics are changing, reflecting the changing dynamics in the work place and in society at large. The specifics? Hmm, well my prurient interests are intrigued but the curiosity is idle. Couples are working out the details and hopefully there will be no explicit tell-all book about the details. Sexuality is personal.
Like all issues, this is a spiritual issue. The complex relationship between men and women, described in Proverbs as, “the way of a man with a maiden,” is an arena where the heart of collective mankind is put on the table. In some cultures, such as with Isis, it has been solved as women “know their place” and dutifully submit, without question. Questioning would be extremely dangerous. In many parts of our culture, the gender roles are being questioned and redefined. This reflects a general trend of questioning boundaries in the whole of our culture which threatens our definition of what is real and what is unreal. Inevitably, this is met with a fierce insistence that boundaries be rigidly defined, that “walls” be erected to shut out anything that is different, including those “damn Mexicans.”