We’ve come a long way from the twin beds that couples shared on American TV in the 1950s and ‘60s. Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore had separate single beds in their master bedroom in New Rochelle, New York as did Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in Manhattan. Yet both of those famous TV families had little boys. It was as if those little boys came from Macy’s.
In those most prudish days, sex was a subject that was off limits all the time on television as well as in daily life. The sexual revolution of the late-‘60s got the wheels turning but who would have guessed we’d be where we are today.
The spectacle of women publicly shedding light on deep dark secrets that go back decades is amazing. Men in powerful positions in the work place are now being exposed for the letches they were and may sti ll be. And there is no gender restriction. If you are a man who knew or worked with Kevin Spacey, then you go public and denounce the ugly actions of that powerful aggressor just as women have done to their exploiters – prominent men like Senate candidate Roy Moore, Senator Al Franken and TV journalists Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer.
This outpouring didn’t start this fall with revelations about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. But for some reason, his now legendary and oft-repeated inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour towards women has ripped the last lid off the thinking that these are private matters.
What’s happened with such revelations becoming part of public discourse is a societal seismic change. For far too long, it was understood that women who denounced the behaviour of letches would too quickly become double victims. A victim for what they endured in private and a victim for having the gumption to denounce the perpetrator.
There was always the feeling that powerful men had too much to lose and it logically followed that their victims would never get a fair hearing. The message got out quickly. Speak out, and with lightning speed, you will be dismissed as either unstable, a liar, or both. Those who yielded power in the relationship had the power to squash their victims.
Another unspeakable truth was that in many cases, friends, colleagues and family told victims they would do themselves harm they would have difficulty recovering from if they spoke out.
It was always understood – and popular culture perpetuated the notion – that many women could not definitely prove what happened to them, thereby providing their perpetrators with almost full cover, certainly in courts of law where it would count the most.
What happened with Weinstein is that so many women stepped forward it became impossible for him to dismiss them all as liars. The same goes for Keven Spacey. When so many men said the star overstepped the limits of anything close to acceptable social behaviour, Spacey had no defence. When it comes to sexual exploitation, strength in numbers overrides power and stardom.
And you can’t have this conversation without Donald Trump being part of it. Was it just 15 months ago when an audio recording surfaced with him bragging about groping and kissing women whenever he wanted to because, in his own words, “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
Despite the fact that several of Trump’s accusers stepped forward with their awful stories of his abusive behaviour, Trump still won the election. To this day the president insists he did nothing wrong to those women.
But, the mounting number of recent examples, tell us that in the 15 months since Trump got caught red-handed, the dynamics of sexual exploitation have changed. The many more coming forward now are not being dismissed. Their attackers are admitting wrong doing and public exposure is making the police appear more willing to investigate.
This bad stuff is now fully in the open with victims regularly going on TV and sparing no detail. The days of remaining silent about deep dark secrets is ending. The awakening is long overdue.
And you have to wonder how many other rich powerful men are worried they may be next on the chopping block.