Recent events—the Me Too movement, the accusations against powerful men, their firing (or in the case of certain Republican candidates, nothing) was something I was avoiding. I didn’t think my survival of a violent felony was appropriate for Facebook. But now, I’m starting to cheer up. I’m getting happier and happier. I don’t care if I liked an actor’s work, or Garrison Keillor. Why?
Well, it’s something called feminism. Which insists that my survival is tied in to the survival of all women. As are my concerns. As is my fate.
I came of age as a writer in Boston in the 1970’s. It was an open assumption that older men preyed on young women in the poetry and literary world. In this way, these worlds were no different than the 42nd Street Port Authority Bus Station where pimps accosted me every time I stepped off a bus from Jersey. I grew up with the combat of the street, and accepted it. I couldn’t accept the misogyny of the poetry world so I sidestepped it. This wasn’t the only reason I didn’t become a “real” academic and essentially identify as indie—that’s my personality and my path. But I knew from the first hours at my first writers’ conference that fawning over skanky old (sometimes drunk) famous guys was never going to be my thing.
None of this is news, and none of this affects my personal relationships with men. I don’t ask the question—are their good guys—because I differentiate between individuals and patriarchy. I’ve loved my husbands, my male mentors, my nephews, my son-in-law, my male friends, and many men under many circumstances. I don’t fear or criticize them because I consider myself a good judge of character and I don’t confuse those I’ve chosen to be close to with famous powerful men whose values are loathsome. And why would I? Various counter and subcultures I inhabit have provided unlimited and excellent opportunities for men be care about women and equality. To be honest, I never expected that emphasis from Garrison Keillor.
Misogyny limited the women of my generation. The endless expected unexamined daily harassment of women in all the artistic fields certainly destroyed some careers before they ever began. If the firing of predators makes my cohort—creative class women—safer, then I am one hundred percent behind it.
Frankly I think the rest is just smoke and mirrors—an apology for behavior which is immoral and illegal. I don’t care if liberal leaders go down, or if I find out William Shakespeare was hitting on his interns. I grew up knowing this behavior was pandemic. Maybe it will become less so.