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Local View: We all have the power to end the disrespect, harassment of women

Steve Lindstrom, for the News Tribune

I am 68 years old, and when I was much younger, much thinner, and much better looking, I lived through the “boys will be boys” mentality in school, at work, and while out socially. The brush against the breast, the pat on the fanny, the uninvited kiss on the face, the bullying, and the threats to employment: most women were “conditioned” early to accept this world if what we wanted was a career with men.

People who wonder why so many women waited so long to start speaking out are the people who are in denial about the American culture — a culture which, for too long, has confirmed on the straight male the status of demigod.

As we watch U.S. Sen. Al Franken and public-radio personality Garrison Keillor fall, many ask: How can we change this?

Every one of us has the power.

Watch your language; does it lower females and raise males?

Spend your money where it supports equality, and that’s not in bars or restaurants that have women’s bosoms or bottoms exposed to encourage more drinking by male customers.

Write letters or emails and make phone calls to politicians, the owners of local businesses, media representatives, city council and school board members, and others; these people have a great deal of power over the direction of our culture and how we treat each other.

If you belong to a body that worships, organize a group endeavor to reach out locally to people of power.

Parents and teachers have amazing influence over how children are formed. There is a song in the musical, “South Pacific,” that has the phrase, “You’ve got to be carefully taught.” It refers to hatred. Every child born starts out accepting every other child born. We teach them how to be prejudiced; how to discriminate based on gender; and how to be racist, homophobic, or isolationist against “the other.”

My husband and I boycott certain local places that we believe are not respecting females. It’s easy to do. We also write letters to challenge ideas and behaviors that we find disrespectful or demeaning.

When you participate in change, the feeling you get is the same as when you successfully complete a project at home or at work. You did something! You stopped sitting and complaining, and you took action.

Every person has that power.

Many years ago, someone smart said this: If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Nancy Lanthier Carroll

Nancy Lanthier Carroll of Duluth is a freelance writer and editor who served earlier this year as a citizen representative on the News Tribune Editorial Board.

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