“He suddenly pinned me to the door and tried to kiss me.” What do we make of Shimon Peres, now that we know?
This is a segment from The “From ‘Et Tu’ to ‘Me Too’” Edition.
This was “common” and acceptable behavior in the 60’s and 70’s and I remember it well. It was particularly prevalent among Israeli men in my experience. I remember having attended a talk in NYC by Arik Sharon. When I approached him to thank him and shake his hand among a group of others from the audience, and he took my hand and asked me to meet me at the bar of the hotel for a drink. I was young and still naive, but had a sense of how this encounter would play out, and yet was tempted because he was a mature man, handsome and famous, and singled me out. But I was embarrassed by it being so public and therefore declined in that hasty, brief moment. My experience as an 18 to 24 year old was filled with the arrogant moves of mature men, who approached me with dominating behaviors. But in the culture of the time, this was acceptable “mating ritual” behaviors. Women were to be “seduced” (aka manipulated) and aggression was as acceptable as finesse. Fame, power, money, confidence were the markers of success and manliness, and it was the job of a young woman to learn to navigate the straits of men and sex; the lessons and choices and outcomes endless in variety. I don’t fault those men in my past, nor some of my own unfortunate choices. We are always, everywhere, products of a culture that defines and permeates our behaviors and values and judgements. Things change. More rapidly than ever it appears. However, human history does seem to reveal some basic characteristics that challenge us in every culture and every generation.
Thanks for this moving and thoughtful comment, Rikki. I really appreciate it. And I am sure you are right. At the same time (and in a contradictory way) I think that even back then, most men who did such things knew, even while they/we were doing it, that there was something icky about it. I think most knew that they/we were not treating the young women as complete human beings, but as something less. Mostly, I think they/we weren’t really thinking much about the women at all. You’re right that it was a kind of socially accepted behavior, and lots of people were doing the same thing, and that matters. Still, I think not only that they/we *could* have known there was something wrong with turning down a woman for a job because people’ll gossip, and then pushing her against a wall and, well, whatever he did. I think they / we actually *did* know it was wrong but did it anyway because it seemed like a victimless crime because who was paying attention to the women and girls anyway?
There is some beautiful about your approach, which is forgiving and understands how imperfect all of us are. But, still, I’m not sure.
Thanks for writing, so movingly.
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