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Fairer Sex

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As becomes increasingly obvious, we are unmistakably in the middle of a sea change apropos relations between the sexes. That "we" clearly refers to the corridors of power in politics, media, entertainment, and elsewhere. And by the sexes, we mean something beyond the erstwhile binary sense of the word. It is obvious, in this polymorphing world, that a contemporary Noah would be hard put, in filling a lifesaving craft with representative survivors, to restrict himself to the ordinary one-and-one-makes-two.

There was a time when the mechanics of the existing sexual universe could be rendered by the old cartoon of a stone-age man using one hand to drag an unconscious female by the hair, while the other hand held the club that rendered her supine and the bully boy's to dispose of, presumably as a guest, permanent or temporary, in his lair.

Crude as that old stock image was as a metaphor for primitive courtship, it bespoke an uncomfortable truth about the enduring algorithms, through stage after stage of social evolution and of gender and power.

Now all that is being called into question, and good riddance. The club — which is to say, the male dominance built into the prevailing social model — is being challenged with a vengeance. Maia and Isis are reincarnated as Wonder Woman, who is no man's tool and won't be dragged anywhere. The Playboy Philosophy has gone to its reward. The reversals of fortune that have seen Bill O'Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Charlie Rose, and seemingly countless others purged from their positions of acceptability have been quick and presumably irrevocable.

The parameters of the emerging new order are indistinct, as yet. The old order will no doubt reassert itself to some degree. The giddiness felt by some will doubtless subside. The boundaries between healthy sexual interplay (flirting, hooking up, etc.) and sexual harassment are in flux and are being redefined. And the challenge now is to reform and redefine stable and just forms of behavior. The boys club is being deconstructed.

This is a revolution that won't be accomplished by elaborate blueprints nor by elites with specialized knowledge. It will be determined by men learning to behave and by women reporting bad behavior.

The only "guidance" the current moment of transformation has required is an old-fashioned one, summed up in the biblical phrase: "You shall know the truth, and it shall make you free." The instigators of the powerful change now underway have, for the most part, been members of the American free press doing their jobs: afflicting the comfortable by exposing various male misbehavior and predation, previously behind facades of silence and acquiescence.

It is no accident that the deniers of this overdue revolution are represented by bona fide predators — in Washington as well as in Hollywood, New York, Alabama, and elsewhere. But it appears increasingly obvious that those who deny their acions and seek to sustain the dying male-dominated zeitgeist are doomed to be outed.

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