Good morning, Wednesday.
So unless you've been asleep at the wheel for a hot minute, you no doubt have noticed we are living in a nightmarish, reality show on peyote mixed with arsenic. I can't believe what this (not my) President has unleashed and the cans of worms are infesting our screens every day- try very hard not to pay attention to the news. I double dog dare you.
Thinking about Kavanaugh, it's hard not to reflect on my own teenaged coming of age. He's a bit older than me but generally the same era. He saw Sixteen Candles. So did I. He liked beer. So did I. And he drank too much and did dumb shit. So did I. But this is not a piece to excuse his actions- to me, he's undeniably guilty and there's no way he should serve on the court. And if I didn't think so on the basis of the crime alone, I double dog didn't think so after his testimony. Big boys don't cry. Especially those who want to serve on the highest court of the land. And that's that.
I remember being a teen in the 80s and thinking about how the generations before mine really did a number on our fun. By this, I mean the AIDs crisis, that scourge that transcended any thought we had about sex, and we thought a lot about sex at that age. It was terrifying to even imagine having anything other than safe sex. And I found myself wondering if my team was paying the price for all of that indiscrete hedonism of the 70s salad days. Perhaps we're in another period of correction.
A period of darkness, of penance for all the ignorance we had when it came to toxic male culture. The fact that we didn't come forward and shoved it all under the rug is coming back to haunt us. And now, today's kids are growing up in a world that must seem terrifying when it comes to sexual nuance and sex in general. How do we flirt in this day and age when everything is off limits? How do we throw caution to the wind and not fear for our lives when it comes to sleeping with someone? For me, this is clearly a non sequitur, but I'm talking about the kids. How will all of this affect them? If I was a young woman right now, I'd be terrified. And if I was a young man, I'd be frozen, wondering how to be and how to act when it comes to dating and dominance and anything else you can think of.
Some years ago, I worked for a trend forecaster who was instrumental for bringing the term "metrosexual" into the lexicon. It seemed that men suddenly had a raison d'etre- to wear striped button downs, buy expensive face cream, and cop to the fact that they were every bit as vain as we were. Then the financial crisis happened and many men in fields like manufacturing lost their jobs, and to me- that was a crucial moment. Suddenly, women seemed to be faring much better than the guys. And then I couldn't help but wondering where this left men. How would they evolve when women were arguably smoking them in most arenas? And now look where we are. We have a President who mocks the testimony of a woman who claims she was raped.
And we can't go a day without a man being outed for doing something awful. It's so sad to me. Tragic, really. Was I naive and never seeing all of this? Clearly I grew up in a culture that never called foul on this behavior. Back to the movies of my youth, and particularly Sixteen Candles- there's been articles written of late about how incredibly fucked up that movie is- Jake Ryan- my preppy poster teen for all that was right in the world, noted that he could violate his passed out girlfriend and then stuck her in a a car with an eager nerd, who apparently took advantage of her to which she responded, when asked if she enjoyed it, "I think I did."
Can you imagine a film like this playing now? This, mind you, was one of the greatest films of my generation. A classic. An icon. And our teenage brains were buying one very twisted myth- that when a rape does not take place in some kind of textbook dark back alley, it's actually funny. Unbelievable isn't it?
I hope that we are getting to a place where the very notion of toxic masculinity will go the way of the cave man, and never, ever come back. This is not exactly relevant, but when I look at shows like "The Deuce" on HBO, New York seemed like one giant, STD laden cess pool. But the 70s, and their distant cousin, the 60s, were the decades of sexual awakening- when Ozzy and Harriet began to sleep in the same bed, and then some. Who knew where it would lead? Well my generation found out. And the notion of "safe" sex was born. But with all the revelations coming out right now, who knew it was anything but?
Were we so focused on cleansing ourselves of the sins of the 70s that we failed to notice some other crucial things happening in culture?
Many people said that when Trump became President, it would get dark. And it's darker than I could ever have imagined. But from the darkness comes light, and rock bottom leaves only one way to go- back up again. I'm praying we can get out of this place, if it's the last thing we ever do. This period of revelation and hopefully correction is a painful one. But it's got to come to the surface so we can not only question how men like Trump came to power or how someone like Bill Cosby did what he did, but what was happening in our culture to create a perfect backdrop for these scenarios to occur. In order to stop the bleeding, you have to close the wound. It doesn't appear we're there yet. But I hope that tomorrow's high school party goers or anyone else does not have to endure any of the crap we did. I am beyond grateful for the women speaking out, speaking up, and most of all, speaking their truth. Time's up indeed. Period. End of story. XO