Feminists Turn Back the Clock

During the Clarence Thomas hearings, I continued the normal work of Prison Fellowship. But something happened that made me stop and think about this question of sexual harassment--and how feminists are trying to turn back the clock.   I was in a California prison. Under California law, there must be no discrimination in hiring correctional officers. So I saw female correctional officers everywhere, walking the cellblocks and corridors.   Suddenly, I came upon an acutely embarrassing scene. A young, attractive female officer walked into an exposed toilet area, stood in front of an inmate who was seated on the toilet, and ordered him to report to the cellblock.   You should have seen the look on the poor man's face.   For that matter, the look on my face. I couldn't believe the system had become so insensitive, so invasive. Prison already strips you of personal identity and private life. Now, because of so-called anti-discrimination laws, inmates suffer the added shame of having the most intimate details of their lives observed by members of the opposite sex.   Just then, across the dorm, I saw a TV screen showing the Thomas hearings. Thomas, who was being grilled for allegedly using indecent language and stripping a female employee of her dignity. Yet here, before my eyes, a female guard was stripping a naked man of his dignity.   Something was wrong with this picture.   How did we arrive at such a bizarre contradiction? Think back to the 1960s, to the sexual revolution. Feminism was a prominent force in that revolution. Feminists insisted that women could be just as promiscuous as men, just as coarse in their language, just as interested in pornography and other forms of explicit sexuality. Feminists insisted that men and women are alike in their sexual responses. Anyone who said they are different was trounced as a chauvinist.   But now, all of a sudden, feminists insist that women's sexuality is different from men's after all. They're beginning to demand the kind of gentlemanly deference that belonged to older codes of chivalry.   Anything else is labeled sexual harassment.   Is it any wonder Americans are confused? The very people who once proclaimed a woman's freedom to use explicit sexual language now act aggrieved that a man would dare--dare!--to talk that way to a woman. The very people who once defended a woman's right to like pornography are now outraged if a man is vulgar enough to talk about such things to a woman. The very people who deliberately tore down the older codes of chivalry and deference to women now want them back.   In the 1920s, the early feminists tried to reform men and make them more responsible. But the feminists of the 60s did the opposite--they imitated the sexual irresponsibility of men. They took twisted and perverted forms of sex more characteristic of men at the time, and made that the standard they aspired to.   We can be just like men, they said.   Now, I'm afraid, we're all reaping the painful consequences of a sexuality run amok. Even feminists don't like what they helped create. The question is, Can they turn back the clock?


Chuck Colson



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