Sitting down to compose a weekly editorial is sometimes difficult.
But not this week.
As I began pondering this week’s editorial, my husband came into the room and said Matt Lauer, host of NBC’s “Today” show, had been fired for alleged sexual harassment.
It is hard to believe that, in the 21st century, sexual misbehavior in the workplace is still a major issue.
I grew up as one of the feminist movements of our modern era took root in the 1960s and 1970s. I use the word “one” because it is was women of the early 20th century who pushed for the right to vote for women.
Almost a century later, it is truly difficult to understand why women didn’t have the right to vote until the 19th amendment in 1920.
Men panicked whenever feminist Gloria Steinem spoke in the ‘60s and ‘70s. My parents took me to hear her in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
“Women need a man like fish need a bicycle,” was one of her statements that made men furious. She explained that her statement was not anti-man, but pro-woman. She said women should be with a man because they want to be with them, not because they had to have a man in order to get along in this world.
To effect social change in any generation, we need people who will go to great lengths to startle society into seeing the problem and taking some action.
Society needed a reborn feminism in that era.
Until the 1960s-70s feminism took hold, women had the vote, but were still far from equal. A women could not start a business unless her husband said it was okay. Women could not even open a bank account without a husband’s permission. Unmarried women could not get a credit card. No birth control pills.Women could not serve on a jury because they were judged to be emotionally weak and were supposed to stay home. Women could have genius grades, but were excluded from prestigious ivy league colleges and could not even dream of getting into the Naval Academy or other service academy. Women could be fired if they got pregnant, weighed too much or were judged to be weak.
The need for another wave of more militant feminism has been brewing. Each year, we hear the disgusting reality of how women are still not being paid as much as men for the same job.
In recent months, the news has been dominated by many reports of men using positions of power to harass and assault women and men in subordinate jobs. These alleged improprieties affect all levels of government, corporations, entertainment and news figures. With so many powerful men being outed as predators, we should know that millions of anonymous men are also using the office as a place to be a predator.
For ourselves, other women, our children and grandchildren, we must all take on the feminist mantle and demand better treatment. Good men will also join this new wave of feminism.