A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE
Older White Males, Voting For "The Way It Was"

 

I was conversing via email recently, with a relative of whom I am particularly fond, when the subject turned briefly to politics.

I wrote: "I don't know what your politics are.... I was a registered Republican up until my party nominated George W. Bush and I realized there had been a coup. "

"Today, a fair number of followers of the Conservative movement appear to be certifiable lunatics", I continued.


.

"My two brothers remain staunchly Conservative Republicans", I told him, and then I continued, saying;

"In my 'old age', however, I have discovered that I most definitely am not. Turns out rather a lot of us are coming to that realization, since the very definition of "Conservative" appears to have changed."

My relative responded to my email with a curt reply, saying;

"If a Conservative is still for the way things were when I grew up, then I stand with your brothers..."

His chilly response saddened me. It basically appeared to write me off.

But it also got me thinking.

As I recall, he graduated from high school in 1958, which makes him six years my senior. I was a member of the Class of '64.

I suspect he yearns for the warm and fuzzy cocoon of yesterday. It was a simpler time, he seems to recall, when men were the undisputed "Kings of the Castle".

His memory tells him that it was a particularly good time to be a white male....(if you didn't count the draft, and the Vietnam war, that is), but of course there were always ways around that, provided that your family had enough money, or enough influence.

The men of his era were absolutely certain of their place in the world.

Women have a different perspective of yesterday.

I recall begging my University educated father to let me go to college. "It would be a waste of money", he told me. "You're only going to get married, and no self respecting man would ever ALLOW his wife to work".

Yes, I managed make it to college anyway, but as I look back, I'm stunned by how archaic, how backward, how narrow minded my father's comments sound to me today. As if my own future should somehow be dependent upon what some future husband might "allow" me to do.

Two of my friends became pregnant in the '60's. One was forced to give her child up for adoption, something that haunted her for the remainder of her life.

The other traveled out of state to undergo an illegal abortion. She ended up permanently sterile. She was lucky to live through it.

Some so-called "back-room" abortionists didn't even use anesthesia, because it took too long for women to recover, and they wanted those women out of their office as quickly as possible

It wasn't until 1965 that birth control became legal in America, and even then it was restricted to use by married women only.

It was another seven years, 1972, before birth control became legal for all women.

A woman's right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy wasn't achieved until 1973.

 
If you were a minority growing up in the 50's and '60's, you had even less rights than white women did.


There were separate schools, separate water fountains, separate bathrooms, whites only lodging, restricted neighborhoods, inter-racial marriage was against the law, and the words "Colored To The Rear" were stenciled on the back wall of the bus I rode to school.

I understand the appeal of nostalgia. There were good times as well.

I have fond memories of Saturday matinees and drive-ins and American Bandstand and Homecoming football games.

But romanticizing the past, imagining that the radicalized Republican party can somehow return that particular moment in history to white males, simply by ripping away women's reproductive rights, eliminating the voting rights of minorities, making certain the White House is restricted to white males, by destroying public education in order to force religion into our schools, by poisoning our elections with corporate millions, by enforcing an antiquated, far-right view of morality and gender bias.... that skewed viewpoint is not only irrational, it's delusional.

And it's dangerous to the health of our nation.

Gender Gap Near Historic Highs:

If only women voted, Obama wins in a landslide.

If only men voted, Romney wins in a landslide.

Taken further:

if only Latinos, blacks, celebrities, college grads, professors, scientists, poets, Burning Man attendees, book readers, trees, oceans, major cities or college towns of America voted, Obama nails it wholly and true.

If only rich CEOs, gun owners, upper managers, oil companies, rednecks, shut-ins and guys who think Muslims are terrorists, Mexicans are lazy house painters, and feminazis are ruining porn, voted, Romney is a mutant and faraway god.

 

All of which leads to the most depressing conclusion of all:

Older white males remain the most terrified, lopsided, confused demographic in all of America, perhaps even more acutely and more embarrassingly in this election than any other in modern history.

Sources:
http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/gender-gap-near-historic-highs/?partner=rss&emc=rss&src=ig

http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2012/10/23/frightened-men/

This is the twenty-first century. It is not "1900 Yesterday". And it never will be again.

Women are no longer relegated to scrubbing floors and raising babies. Today women are equal partners in the home, in the workplace, and in the military.

Today we are one nation. A vast melting pot of races and religions and and skin colors and nationalities and yes, genders.

Cocoons are for the faint of heart.

I am an American woman. I choose to go FORWARD. With hope, and with anticipation, and with a desire to make the world a better place for my children and my grandchildren.

There are fine adventures and good times ahead, and they await all of us.

I am reaching out my hand to you, my friend.

Take it, won't you?.

Join me.

  "I thought you felt the same" -- 1900 Yesterday

 

Cynthia Gurin - September 7, 2012