This was Virgil’s opening line in the Aeneid and it came to mind in the brief clip of Morgan Freeman, the latest celebrity apologizer, as he sat across from a comely tv interviewer wearing a short, tight, sleeveless, v-neck dress that had climbed to mid-thigh while she was seated. Unsurprisingly, he stared and commented on its brevity and when she stood and pulled it down, he pleaded with her not to change the object of his gaze She giggled flirtatiously at the time, but apparently thought twice when MeToo seemed a better route to follow and now 80 year old Morgan is in hot water too
If you watch morning news, as I do, you will see all the female commentators wearing sleeveless, short, body-hugging dresses and high heeled shoes with no pantyhose as they give you news, traffic and weather reports, while the male anchors are wearing business suits,button-down shirts, ties and presumably shoes and socks at 4 am These outfits are not seasonal - the women are as bare in winter as the men are overdressed in summer. On channel 2 this morning, the sign-off had 4 of the young, pretty women posed on the sofa with their bare legs glamorously oiled and slanted to avoid that center view that would be too obviously incriminating. Nude female arms and legs have become the current suggestive hallmark of sexuality.
It’s certainly no secret that between their outfits, their hair-styles and their false lashes, women who work on tv sign on to be objectified as eye candy For a while this strategy was most obvious on Fox News but the other channels quickly saw how successful it was and followed suit In the past year, I have seen only two women wearing pants - Dana Tyler on CBS and the weather girl on Channel 1 If you look around New York, there’s no question that a multitude of women wear pants daily so their elimination from the tv screen assumes even more suggestive significance.
This has been going on for years but what is new is the sudden thrust of women in the media accusing men who comment on their attire of sexual harassment, as if they weren’t aware of their complicity in agreeing to dress this way as part of their jobs. For a long time, it was stewardesses who were forced to wear the short skirts and high heels, thereby enhancing the getaway on a plane with a visual fantasy of what a business man might enjoy while he was alone and out of town. Eventually the stewardesses objected, and now many of them wear pants and flat-heeled shoes and are not made up to look like an escort service
The greatest irony in the battle between the sexes is that this Victorian reaction to this so-called harassment is taking place at a time when sexual behavior is heavily influenced by expanding concepts of gender fluidity and the omnipresent availability of pornography. Surveys of contemporary young women show them willing to perform sexual acts for males without expecting anything in return and often participating in trios to please the man. Something worthy of greater examination is whether women are sublimating the hollowness of these encounters by bonding into the great sisterhood of MeToo and projecting their more painful personal disappointments into a generic category of male discrimination against women.
The sooner we return to acknowledging that sex without emotional attachment - the hook-up - is the worst form of sexual harassment of women - the greater the possibility of disbanding a movement that has become a misguided witch-hunt.
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