There’s little need for any commentator to heap plaudits and bouquets at the feet of Michelle Obama. Her cri de coeur in Manchester, New Hampshire, yesterday was so far above and beyond the level of electioneering we‘ve experienced since this miserable rat race began that only the most hateful hearts could not be moved.
Our single regret was that, at the conclusion of her remarks, she wasn’t able to raise a pitchfork into the air, leap from the podium, and lead her listeners directly onto a battlefield where, within half an hour’s hard work, the Breitbart bodies would have lain motionless, unable to rise again.
This scenario has almost nothing to do with Donald Trump.
What it does have to do with is the wrenching realization that women today are scarcely more highly regarded than they were when the Republic was founded.
Now, we want sexual assaults in business, in the Armed Forces, on the streets at midnight reported, investigated, and tried in courts of law a.s.a.p.
Which is why, of course, we insist that victims of this kind of behavior prove to us again and again that what they’re alleging is really true.
Which is why we need to know that a college junior who has been gang-raped has never in her life tasted wine, beer, liquor, or inhaled half a joint – not to mention swallowed a “date rape” drug slipped into her lemonade. We need to know how she was dressed. We need to know about her family background.
We need to know that she told her close friends about the “incident” as soon as it happened. That she reported it to the police, or to her college, or her teachers. That she has undergone a pelvic search-and seizure for DNA.
We need to know that a thirty-eight year old woman forced into having sex in the first hours of a new job is a virgin, Christian, white.
We need to know that a mother of four, out with her children for an afternoon’s play-date in the park, had never locked eyes with any male of any age. That she did not offer him ten dollars because she felt sympathy for someone without food, or clothing, or care.
We need to know the sexual history of this woman. Has she been active in the past month or days? Has she ever solicited friendship, let alone contact, with another human being? Could she have been a victim of molestation as a child?
Is she divorced?
Does she have a job? Does she have two or three jobs with difficult hours that keep her from her family? Is she a church-goer? Has she ever been a volunteer for a community project? Does she wear nylons? Is she tattooed? Does she have a nose-ring? Did she graduate from high school, from college? Does she respect the hard work and dedication of her father? Of her husband? Of her brothers?
Can she cook?
That “long way, baby” we imagine we’ve come stopped almost before it began. The moment the Pill was introduced and, in today’s terms, went viral, is the same moment women looked down to see their feet encased in cement at the edge of the pier. Women allowed to sample sex, as men are and have been for centuries, are still wearing an eighteenth century scarlet letter.
Which situation goes a long way to explaining why men in national and state legislatures feel empowered to make decisions about women’s healthcare.
The short (and long) of it is that American men do not, and perhaps never have considered women equals. The occasionally successful woman in industry would be an anomaly were it not for the fact that she’s able to make men millions and billions of dollars. Women are expected to play the role of seconds, as in a duel. They’re carrying bandages and medicines in case something happens to a man. But to actually take up arms and stand firmly when facing an enemy or problem is something no man expects, or wants.
There are men, confident in their personalities and sexualities, who do understand the value of an intelligent, insightful, foresightful woman.
But, in 2016, these are still outliers, exceptions, rare.