Remember the original Family Feud?
100 women surveyed. Top six answers on the board. Here’s the question… Name a game show host who would never be able to come in contact with the contestants in the modern era?
Good answer. Show me, ‘Richard Dawson’!
With the litany of celebrities, sports figures, actors, and news outlet personalities being accused of sexual aggression, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct – and a string of other legal terms that boils down to ‘unwanted advances of a man toward a woman’ – it is appalling that so many men in popular or powerful positions do not (or did not) see their aggressive and unwarranted actions as inappropriate. All people deserve respect. That is not a trait that is only reserved for men in high positions.
At least, in the case of Richard Dawson, he showed his affection for and to the ladies and to the entire viewership of the Family Feud game show. The show is available in syndication on some basic cable channels. I always love watching the show because I am able to sometimes come up with the answers and yell them back at the television screen. But it is surreal and strange to see the women on the show excited to have an opportunity to kiss Richard Dawson, especially in the social climate we find ourselves in today. Is it a matter of innocent versus malicious intent? Was our culture more open back then?
Now, we live in a world where men can marry men and women can marry women; where the traditional ideals and concepts of marriage have twisted into something unrecognizable by established religion and society. I will always applaud the direction the lawmakers and the general populace have walked in their tolerance and understanding of people from all walks of life. it is a good thing that the new millennium has brought with it a sense of enlightenment.
But it also seems to have brought with it a reinforced sense of male entitlement.
I know several transgender women who have encountered men in public places who tend to stare at them (or worse, invade their personal space). Some may do so out of a sense of curiosity, novelty, or, even, disdain. It becomes apparent which of the aforementioned is at work when those people start to make disparate comments to their significant other about the TG person that they have just encountered… even when they are within earshot and sightline.
I heard an account from a transgender sister about an encounter in a doctor’s office waiting room. A husband, while waiting for his wife’s appointment to be complete, was running his eyes over my friend’s legs and breasts. When his wife returned, the husband systematically began his judgmental and opinionated tirade about the detriment of having to tolerate people “like her”.
Why did the husband have a sudden change in demeanor? Had he been leering at my friend, or admiring her? Did he feel shame because he realized he had been staring at a woman who used to be a man? Did that bring about a fear in him that caused him to point my friend out to his wife?
The story illustrates that it is a fine line to observe a woman (any woman). Too long a stare can be misconstrued as lecherous and uncomfortable. If you want to learn more about a person (not just how they present themselves), strike up a genuine conversation with them. The privilege of being a man doesn’t give him the right to objectify a woman because he likes how she looks. Nor does it give him the right to verbally belittle her because he thinks he is of a higher station than her.
We seem to live in an era where some men still require the subjugation of the better and fairer sex in order to stoke and fuel the fires of their own egos and libido. With all of the woman coming forward to stand up to their assailants, these specific men (and, hopefully others who still cling to their veils of secrecy) may finally have realized that women in all of their forms are as strong – if not stronger – than their male counterparts!