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home : insight & opinion : guest columns
January 22, 2018

12/12/2017 8:06:00 AM
It's womens' turn for leadership roles
For the Daily News

"Women in the News" was once upon a time a segment of the news broadcast wherein a man, or sometimes two men, would tell some anecdote about something a woman had done. She may or may not have been present and was never asked to give any analysis of what this meant to history, or whether or not her cause or actions or whatever it was she had done would matter beyond its being reported.

For all sorts of reasons, men were in charge of things, and women lived in the homes men bought them and raised the children men thrust upon them. There were exceptions, of course, but that was the norm, which is a term men used to describe the way things were that they had become used to. It didn't occur to them that "Norm" might ever be changed to "Norma" as in the way women saw things and how men had better get used to or else.

Well, fellas, welcome to the new world. It's worth a look back to see how it came upon us all, men and women alike, but we may as well forget the argument that it's not going to happen. It already did.

Watch the news; that will tell you what's going on. Not what they're saying, but who's saying it. The CBS Morning News was given last week by three women, without apology for not having a man present. A new guy gets to have the night work, but face it, he's only retelling what the women already told us in the morning.  

The public no longer trusts men and the networks have figured it out. Folklore has it that all men have this thing - how should I put this delicately - that makes us stupid. Women don't have it. Time was they were considered untrustworthy because they were "too moody," which was guy talk for hormonal, and possibly intellectually challenged because their estrogen levels were on the move. 

That was a minority report at best, and always a cheap shot. Girls were smarter than boys in grade school, and we all knew it. Their brains didn't stop growing, while mens' kept going. They have the capability to do very nearly anything a man can do and have always had innate advantages that allowed them to do a whole lot more.

Now that we have DNA testing readily available, we find out that through the generations women have been a good deal more self-directed than was previously believed. Then again, how hard is it for a woman to fool a man, really? Men have this thing that makes them foolish, remember?

So the "Man of the Year" on the cover of Time magazine for 2017 is not a man - that was changed to "person" some time ago, and now it's not just one but several. The honorees are the women who have spoken out through the power of social media to say they were sexually harassed and/or mistreated, and are now the public face of the change it is hoped this will bring to the world.  

Sexual harassment is bad; it is in fact a crime, so it is not new to say it happens, or that it was done at work, or that people were wrongly demoted or fired or passed over for promotion because of it. It rarely happens to men, but it does, and it is just as wrong in that context, but men have always had the power of public opinion on their side, so we don't see that as something new.

The news here is the full power of social media throughout society. The hashtag, which I used to call the pound sign, is a force to be reckoned with.  I am glad women have armed and armored themselves for the battle to come. I'm not talking about war between the sexes; that's not going to happen, I mean the abdication by men of the throne of traditional leadership positions.

It will be an adjustment, but others have been made to bring us to this point and we learned to adjust. Men are survivors, we'll be just fine. Give the women their due and keep your hands off their backsides while we send them up to the plate to take their swings. It's a team sport, after all, and if they have the skills, I'm content to let them have the credit for doing it right.

This will all take some time to develop, of course, assuming it happens at all and we continue to be so politically schizophrenic as to say on the one hand harassment has to end while we elect a guy who brags about it and calls it "locker room talk" as if that excuses it. Incredibly he got the women's vote. I'm thinking that won't happen again. I would go so far as to suggest that he is halfway through the only term as president he will ever have.

After him, however, it will be undeniable that he has permanently changed the landscape of national and international politics. Whether that is for better or worse we'll have to wait and see.

Women will have to learn to trust each other more and defer to men less. Men will have to learn to behave. Those are both good things, so we should be all right regardless of whose turn it is next.

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