Local column: A time of reckoning

The time of reckoning is here and hopefully women finally will get the respect they deserve, writes George Morrison.

High profile companies and organizations are quickly and effectively addressing the issue of sexual harassment and gender inequality. This has many forms in our society and business world. And there is a long way to go to rectify the many aspects of this mindset and presence.

We wait painfully for the time when women will be treated exactly like men, by men. When women are not judged and analyzed by their hair style, makeup, clothing, body or anything that men are not judged by; when women can give their opinion boldly, vigorously and without reservation; and not be considered out of place, unfeminine or shrill.

Many of these habits and misconceptions have been drilled into society, both men and women, for eons and they will be hard to change, but it is not impossible. For instance, the idea that women can or cannot perform certain jobs — that there are places they “belong,” such as the home or the kitchen — these concepts are way past their time to go.

There are too many daily and common instances of women being talked down to or diminished. It is time to reshape our notions of who a woman is, and what she can do. The stereotypical idea we were taught and assimilated into needs to be challenged and ended. It is time to view women as equal to their husbands and brothers or any other male in society. It won’t be easy for many to do this. To those accustomed to privilege, equality may feel like oppression. Too bad; it is time. You will get used to it.

I think this gets us to the current uprising of women refusing to be quiet about sexual and gender mistreatment. I don’t want to sound self-righteous here, even though I have long been a feminist, I have probably been guilty of some protocol or etiquette on this matter over my many years. I am sure today most men are now thinking the same thing. “Have I ever offended a woman by my ignorance or non-thinking words or actions?”

If you see it happen, report it; if it happens to you report it. Make an effort to train your children what is the right thing to do if they see it or are a victim. Don’t force them in contact with anyone they don’t want to be with. Don’t force them to hug Uncle Joe. Change old paradigms. Be aware of your children’s behavior; if it changes dramatically, find out why.

Our society seems to be on a good roll here. Many events and actions have been swept under the rug in the past; which means both men and women need to change their thinking about and acceptance of bad behavior. Be proactive — make a difference.

Morrison is a retired INL worker with a degree in political science; and a continuing student of politics, history and economics.