I’ve been waiting to write about all the sexual misconduct news until my head cleared and I could make some sense. I don’t know if I’m there yet. Some of my thoughts follow.
The basic stuff that I’ve encountered as a sexually active woman over approximately 45 years:
Men have to. Really they want to, but that’s not a good enough excuse for most men raised in our culture, so they tell themselves they have to.
Men marry to.
The six-week check-up is a case in point. After waiting through a pregnancy in which sex is rare, husbands count the days after their child is born until their wives come home from their six-week check-up with a clean bill of health, usually from a male doctor. This clean bill of health means that the woman is ready to continue providing sex to her husband, and because her husband is looking desperate, and because she secretly feels guilty that she has denied him sex in exchange for the pleasure (the long-term pleasure of course) of giving birth to a child, she goes along. Sex may hurt, but she goes along.
Many women sacrifice the pleasure of sex and lose touch with their own urges and rhythms in order to provide it on a male schedule. I have done this.
If women are strong enough, they have sex only when they want to. Some men realize over time that the women they married are actually people, not sex providers, and modify their behavior accordingly.
Other men turn to women who aren’t their wives, sometimes very young women, sometimes children. Most men aren’t willing to seduce these other women—that’s too much work—so they grope or rape or molest or use their power in whatever field of endeavor they inhabit to coerce.
Some never go through with the sex itself. They are addicted to female admiration and string women along but never take the decisive step. There are lots of men like this. I suppose we have to be grateful that they don’t take the decisive step, but having been one of these foolish, strung-along women, I don’t feel very grateful.
Some men joke about their extramarital activities with each other and sometimes with the women involved, but this is to cover shame—in the case of men who have any.
Other men—such as our esteemed president—have no shame. They are proud beyond measure of their sexual exploits.
Still others deny their sexual misconduct in the face of strong evidence. We are now in an era where people lie all the time about everything. I don’t know when this happened.
The worst lies I’m guilty of are (1) telling my students that they are good writers when they are not, hoping to make it easier for them to write more fluently (which is the only way writers are made), and (2) telling nosey people that I’ve been married twice when I’ve really been married three times—the third time has lasted 33 years so far—because I don’t like the look on their faces when I mention the number 3. This is none of their business anyway.
But this is none of their business anyway is a trap. Lies are lies. One leads to another. It is the business of all of us, for example, to protect women and children from men who say they have to when they only want to and go on to force the issue, inside and outside marriage. It is also the business of women to protect themselves. If you have been raised to believe that your only value is as a sex provider, this is a hard thing to do.
Are ALL MEN this way? I don’t know. But the NOT ALL MEN argument is frowned upon in the wake of Roy Moore and Garrison Keillor and Matt Lauer and Al Franken and John Conyers and Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby. I hesitate to make it. Also, I don't know ALL MEN.
I hope that some of the men pictured here go to jail. I hope many men go to jail.
I believe this is a (r)evolutionary moment.