Musings —10.08.2017 10:54 AM—
That’s the title of Ross Douthat’s column in today’s Times. It’s important.
Maybe [Weinstein’s] overdue exposure shows that the world has changed, and progressive industries are finally feminist enough to put their old goats out to pasture.
But it might just show that a certain kind of powerful liberal creep only gets his comeuppance when he’s weakened or old or in the grave. The awfulness of Ted Kennedy, at Chappaquiddick and after hours in D.C., can be acknowledged only now that he’s no longer a liberal lion in the Senate. The possibility that Bill Clinton might be not just an adulterer but a rapist can be entertained now that he’s no longer protecting abortion from the White House. The sins of Woody Allen … well, I’m sure Hollywood will start ostracizing him any day now.
Last Sunday I wrote a harsh obituary for Hugh Hefner, which noted that he represented a certain style of liberalism — progressive and yet chauvinist, liberationist and exploitative — that perdures in our society to this day. Some readers were skeptical: Didn’t Hef’s feminist critics win the fight for liberalism, while his Playboy philosophy became something of a joke?
After he started having sex with his daughter, I resolved never again to pay for a Woody Allen movie. After I passed adolescence, I decided Hugh Hefner was a caricature, a joke of a man, padding around in a housecoat with pneumatic women young enough to be his granddaughters.
And, when I was involved in daily politics, I developed a deep dislike – bordering on hatred – for politicians who use their power to get what they wanted from less-powerful women. I soon learned, too, that these “men” came in all ideological sizes and shapes. Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats: all of them had their share of rutting male pigs.
I don’t think I ever heard my father call himself a feminist, but I think he was one. My brothers and I were brought up to believe in equality, and to fight for it. Women were to be treated, always, with respect and near-reverence. My Dad didn’t want Playboy in our home because he was a censor – he forbade it because it was disrespectful to our mother.
But am I the type of liberal hypocrite Douthat describes in his column? I am, I am. As a teenager, I still secreted Playboy into the house. As a man, in relationships, I behaved abominably with too many women. And, of course, there was that time I met Bill Clinton and cheerfully posed for a picture with him. It’s even on the back cover of one of my books.
Am I a feminist? No – not yet. I think I am still unfit to be one. I am a work in progress. And that is why I still wince when I hear the likes of Justin Trudeau call themselves feminists, like it is a talking point.
Stop calling yourself feminists, fellow liberal men.
Try being better men, first.