Formerly beloved cultural icon Bill Cosby has become the latest entertainment titan to be charged and convicted of sexual assault. The inside details of the case are shocking and nothing short of predatory.
Looking back on my younger days through a contemporary lens, there were incidents and actions that now make me wince uncomfortably in disbelief. What was considered normal and societally acceptable at that time consisted of vague moral decisions often fueled by an excess of alcohol and hormones. To the best of my recollection, I’m fairly certain that I never crossed the line between ardent pursuit and sexual assault.
The #metoo movement began in the darkness as a solitary light and began to shine much needed light into the dark corners of gender relations. Everywhere you look, former titans of commerce, industry and entertainment are finding themselves frozen like deer in the headlights under the disapproving glare of society. High flying executives, long immune to the complaints of the people they used and abused are being cast out of high paying positions and ruined financially. Their previously untouchable careers in tatters, these (mostly) men find themselves pilloried and in disgrace as a result of being outed for behaviour and practices that are no longer considered acceptable in society.
As the single father of a daughter, I had the discussion and did my best to help her to make good decisions in the shadowy world of gender relationships. That conversation mainly consisted of telling her that most men could, and would do almost anything in order to get what they wanted. I did the best I could with the information that was available to me at the time. As the now mother of two sons, the talk she will have with them is greatly changed from a few short years ago. Her children, and in fact all children, are being taught a new paradigm in relationships and how they can interact with each other.
People in positions of power and authority over others are recognizing that what once was unacceptable but common, is now considered unacceptable, period. This should however not be a gender specific awakening and should apply to everybody and in all situations. This new awakening comes with responsibility on both sides of the equation.
There exists now a state where “trial by Twitter” consumes the evening news and the faintest whiff of allegations, proven or otherwise, can destroy the career of anyone. With the drive to gender equity and responsibility, people can sometimes play fast and loose with the truth. These public lynching’s based on shadow and innuendo can be just as wrong as the acts they are being accused of and must be punished just as swiftly and as severely once the facts are disclosed.
My granddaughters and grandsons and the other young people of today will one day look back in horror at what was accepted social and workplace behaviour a few years ago and with any luck and a lot of persistence, today’s parents will find a way to teach equality and open mindedness and above all, respect for each other.
Those of us who live in northern latitudes know the feeling of suddenly noticing that it’s getting lighter as the year progresses from winter to spring. It’s a slow awakening and one day, on your way home from work, you realize suddenly that its light outside.
If we persist and if we teach them properly, our children will see the light and the darkness of these kinds of abuses will be, like winter, a bitter remembrance.