Apparently feminism went on holiday at last week’s 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards. E! Network red carpet correspondent Isaac Mizrahi grabbed then peered down the front of Teri Hatcher’s dress, asked Eva Longoria about the disposition of her pubic hair, and squeezed Scarlett Johansson’s breast in an extended grope—twice. All of this outrageous behavior was beamed to millions and E! got what it wanted—attention and more viewers motivated by prurient interests.
Hatcher acted shocked, the key word being “acted,” but otherwise did not put a stop to Mizrahi’s affront. Longoria simply did not answer the question, while Johansson appeared nonplussed, asked, “What’s going on?” then put up with Mizrahi’s antics. For women adept at marketing themselves, all of them missed their chance to be the focus of national news, rather than Mizrahi.
Hatcher at 40 should have the perspective and self-awareness to have recognized the moment. At a minimum, she could have pulled away and said something like, “Keep your hands off me!” Or better, had she said that and slapped Mizrahi., she not only would have made national news, she would have become the hero of women everywhere. Hatcher would immediately have become “The woman who said ‘No’” to sexual harassment in front of the entire nation. She would be the “strong professional woman” who stood up for herself. She would be the talk of talk shows, and she would have launched herself into a whole new level of fame, for this incident and its aftermath would have been covered not just on entertainment but hard news programs. But, alas, she didn’t take action—nor did Johansson, who arguably had even more cause to protest Mizrahi’s behavior. They missed their moment for singularity.
Perhaps if any of these women had protested, their reaction would have elicited chuckles later, because these are women whose entire careers and personal presentation is built upon sexual contexts and evident sensuality. But even so, I think they could have won the day, because most women, or anyone for that matter, know that unsolicited improper touching is not acceptable and not legal, even if you remove moral concerns from the equation. Women from Oprah to Hillary would have rallied to their defense, and so would have a lot of men.
Curiously, none of these actresses have demanded an apology and none has been issued. In fact, the only people who seemed to have been offended by this public display of over the top behavior is GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. GLAAD took umbrage with the openly gay Mizrahi’s use of the word “dyke” in his conversation with Charlize Theron. E! Network president Ted Harbert said, “"While E! Networks does not generally condone the use of that word, we are totally confident that Isaac is the last person on Earth who could be accused of even the slightest degree of homophobia." GLAAD later said that E! agreed to edit out this word in future airings of the program.
So in Hollywood morality, it’s O.K. to use a word like “dyke” if you are not “homophobic.” By this logic, one could use the “N word” if he or she is “not a racist,” or could call someone a “Nazi” if he or she really didn’t mean anything by it. It’s an interesting argument in this day of political correctness.
Also by Hollywood logic, it may possibly be an egregious error to use a derogatory term referring to gays or lesbians, but it’s apparently just fun and games to touch unsuspecting women in improper places—a behavior that in any other context would be called sexual harassment.
Feminists have argued for more than three decades that women should be treated with respect, should be regarded with dignity, should be accorded equality with men, should not be trotted out as mere sex symbols, etc. Later radical feminists positioned themselves and their movement as “men and marriage haters” and considered all sex with men to be forms of oppression, viewpoints that continue to undermine the movement’s other worthy considerations. But much of early feminist arguments had value and needed to be made. The Golden Globe incidents are a case in point. Feminists should be screaming the loudest about this episode, but they have been curiously silent.
This incident also demonstrates how much culture has changed. While neither Lauren Bacall nor Katherine Hepburn were paragons of personal virtue, can you really imagine either of them tolerating the public embarrassment endured by Hatcher, Longoria, and Johansson? Not really—primarily because they had come of age in a time when culture still operated with a reasonable moral consensus. Women did not enjoy all the civil liberties we now consider their due, but they were, largely, accorded a public degree of respect.
Morally, of course, from a Christian perspective, this episode is even more unacceptable and further evidence of cultural decline. So for once Christians and feminists ought to be climbing the same bully pulpit, decrying sexual harassment of any person, no matter who he or she is or what he or she does for a living. Christians will speak out on this issue, and I’m one of them, but where are the feminists?
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006
*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.
On November 2, 2005, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a sex education decision in Fields v. Palmdale School District so sweeping in its breadth and so threatening to parental rights as to take your breath away.
The case is rooted in a Palmdale School District (California) survey of first, third, and fifth graders, ostensibly to evaluate psychological barriers to learning. A parental consent letter was sent home, but it did not mention that sex would be a survey topic. In the survey, children were asked about, for example, “touching my private parts too much,” “touching other people’s private parts,” having sex feelings in my body,” “thinking about sex when I don’t want to,” and more. Parents understandably reacted negatively to this intrusion and sued the school district.
The Ninth Circuit Court decision said that “once parents make the choice as to which school their children will attend, their fundamental right to control the education of their children is, at the least, substantially diminished.” In other words, parental rights regarding their children’s education “does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door.” The court concluded with “In summary, we hold that there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents’ to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal religious values and beliefs and that the inserted right is not encompassed by any other fundamental right. In doing so, we do not quarrel with the parents’ right to inform and advise their children about the subject of sex as they see fit. We conclude only that the parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on that subject to their students in any forum or manner they select.” (Italics mine.)
According to this ruling, written for a three judge panel by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, one of the most liberal and activist judges in the country—and one of the most overturned judges in U.S. judicial history—parents possess no fundamental right to direct their children’s sex education. They may “inform” and “advise,” but they cannot exercise any of this parental oversight inside the walls of the public school. Even the House of Representatives in the nation’s Congress recognized the outrageousness of this position by passing House Resolution 547 the week of November 14, 2005, in which the House expressed its recommendation that the Ninth Circuit rehear the case. Likely this case will be appealed to the United States Supreme Court, but there is no guarantee the high court will hear the case.
The implications of this ruling, should it be regarded as a precedent, go far beyond sex education. In the Ninth Circuit’s view, parents have no right to protest anything in the public school curriculum. It may take a village to raise a child in some peoples’ view, but this case puts the responsibility firmly in the government’s court (sad pun intended). So it’s not parents but judicial philosopher-kings or other designated professionals who determine what’s best and when it’s best for our children.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog on sex education, parents should be their children’s primary if not sole sex information providers. This is a right, responsibility, and privilege of parenthood. Public schools should not be involved in sex education, primarily because they are not able to ground sex education in values leading to a moral consensus on sexual matters. Without clearly stated values, sex education devolves to sex information or sex orientation or sex introduction, or worse, sex promotion.
Let’s hope the United States Supreme Court not only agrees to hear this case but in due course overturns it. The high court will find ample legal precedent, as well as social, religious, and moral common sense, to buttress rationale for regarding parents as the fundamental caregivers, nurturers, and guardians of their children’s development, including their sexual understanding.
Beyond obvious concern for parental rights this case certainly reminds us why activist judges working with a liberal and/or a morally relativistic mindset must be replaced by judges who respect moral values and the law. This is another reason why who we elect to the United States presidency is so important and far reaching.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005
*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers, President or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.
I learned about “the birds and the bees” while sitting in a barber chair. My father was a barber, so he knew that he had me pretty well trapped for however long it took to cut my hair or cover his topic, whichever came first.
My Christian father’s other favorite technique was to drive around to who knows where with me trapped next to him on the other side of the front seat. So sex education in my day was not a matter of what program might be in vogue in the local public school. It was a matter of Dad-picks-time-and-place, Dad-tells-son-what-son-needs-to-know, and Son-learns-from-Dad. That’s it. No curriculum—other than the Bible. No Parent Teacher Organization. No trained sex educators. And you better believe this: No recommended methods to assure “safe sex.” It was abstinence-only. Period.
So I wonder about programs like Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s “Talk Early & Talk Often,” initiated at the beginning of this school year. While TETO strives to encourage parents to talk with their children about sex before the kids learn from culture and media, I’m more skeptical than hopeful. The record of “sex education” programs, other than a few that are truly abstinence-only in their approach, is not all that promising. Many sex education programs do more to promote adolescent sex than prevent it. They do more to advance “alternative lifestyles” than to advance personal responsibility, and they more often suggest a “safe sex” approach than an “abstinence” approach to adolescent sexuality.
I’m glad TETO aims at parents, trying to assist them in acting as the primary sex educators of their children. They should be. But any government sponsored program, particularly in today’s politically charged and politically correct environment, will necessarily be devoid of any sound moral foundation. In other words, to be acceptable, these programs will have to avoid talking about real morality, right and wrong. Evidence for this can be found in one of TETO’s tips for parents: “Try not to be judgmental.” This may mean, “Don’t frown upon kids’ questions.” But it may mean, “Don’t tell kids what’s wrong with sex outside of a heterosexual, monogamous, lifelong marriage.” Or “Don’t tell kids they’re wrong for engaging in sexual relationships.”
For sex education to be effective—that is, for sex education to amount to more than the sharing of new knowledge about sex—sex education programs must also discuss values. If the end result of sex education is supposed to be fewer teen pregnancies, fewer abortions, fewer too-early-too-stressed-then-broken-marriages, fewer STDs contracted, fewer individuals forced into early sexual experiences against their will, or fewer abandoned babies, than what’s “right” and what’s “wrong” must be identified, considered, and hopefully understood and embraced by students in the sex education classroom. Sex education without values is no education at all. It’s just sex facts.
Most public school personnel involved in sex education programs are likely operating with the very best of motives and the highest standards of professionalism. I am not criticizing them. Rather I salute them. In this time and culture their task is truly over-stressed and generally under-valued. But public schools by definition are ill-equipped to provide moral instruction. In many cases they are not even allowed to provide moral instruction—at least clearly religiously based moral instruction. That’s why I believe public schools should concentrate their tight budgets and teaching assets on academic achievement, not sexual enlightenment.
I think parents, families, pastors, and churches should be teaching young people about what God says about human sexuality—that he created it, why he created it, how and when we may express it, and that we are accountable to him for all of it. Because many fathers and mothers abdicate their parental responsibilities is not cause for transferring that responsibility to public schools. Aimed at parents as it is, TETO may help, but I still don’t think it’s the answer.
Parents need to talk early and talk often to their children about sex. This I affirm. But I think these talks will be more effective if administered privately, individually, lovingly, knowledgeably, and frequently by present, involved, parents—not a school program. For children without present, caring parents, the local church should step in with knowledge and values, not the local school. I know this is not easy, but I believe it is right.
Dad didn’t have a degree in sex education. But his Christian commitment and biblical understanding, his upbringing on his family’s farm, his status as a happily married man, and his maturity qualified him to speak with authority. I was the beneficiary. I was given both facts and, more importantly, the values to interpret them.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005
*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.