Baby Boomer women vs younger gen women and how they view sexual harassment.

Last night, I partied with four old ladies. My mom, her two friends, and my older sis. We took a limo ride to go look at Christmas lights.
Anyway, my mom and her friends are in their early 70s. All three of which are each independently successful women. A retired professor, a retired VP for a fortune 500 company, etc…

Each of these ladies I know have their own stories of sexual harassment. And more importantly, they had to deal with this nonsense at a time when nobody gave two shits about sexual harassment.

So last night the subject of Kevin Spacey came up. The above mentioned ladies expressed their disappointment over Netflix letting KS go. In one ladies words: “I don’t care what they say about him, I like KS. They shouldn’t have let him go.”

It was at this point I practically had to bite a hole through my lip from saying something.
I’ve often felt from watching my mother, older ladies see SH as a fact of life. No point in getting mad at the storm, better to just learn how to navigate it. While the younger gen women are more like: “Screw that noise. Let’s get mad at the storm!” (Which I think is great)

I’m not sure the question I’m asking here. Do you guys feel older women view SH as a more forgivable offence?


My mom talked about being a young career military officer’s wife and how many senior officers would get a tad intoxicated and grab the asses of the junior officer’s wives at formal events. Wasn’t a thing the wife, the junior officer or God himself could do about it, except smile and not get so close next time. It was something they just suffered and kept quiet about. I’m betting that has cleared up by now because I can’t imagine that not being reported today.

I think going back to the 60s and before, it was recognized as often being part of being in the workforce. Especially for young single women in positions like waitressing, nursing, steno, stewardesses and secreterial. So yep, I think older woman, those woman and men for that matter over 70 are more blase about the light gropings, inappropriate remarks or wolf whistle type offenses.

My wife, sisters and female friends are in their 50s-60s. Most of them talk as though a lot of what is called harassment (and date rape) these days is just something you were aware of and took steps to avoid/deal with. AFAIK, they are all talking about the fellow student or boss who manages to "accidently " brush against you, butt grabs, and morning after regrets. Haven’t (recently) spoken with anyone who has exposed to, raped, or had job hire/advancement/retention based on demands of sex.

The younger women I speak with - my daughters, nieces, SOs of nephews - are very happy for the publicity sexual harassment is receiving. My wife and I have noted some perceptions of harassment/date rape as being broader than ours.

At the time when these events were happening to them there was no room for red hot anger. It WAS accepted by society, they and society had fully internalized that this was ‘just how it is’. They both felt, and fully were powerless. No room for you to get anything but over it, as sad as that sounds.

It’s been, at least, in excess of fifty years since these occurrences. It’s a little unreasonable to expect them to now suddenly feel the white hot anger of a thousand suns of the women of today, after a lifetime of cultivated circumspection, I should think.

There comes a time when we will all look around, shrug, and say, “But it’s a different world today!”

Please share how your and your wife’s interpretation of date rape in particular, differs from how it is defined today.
I doubt I’m the only one who is curious.

I’m not in the age bracket of the women in the OP but at age 50, you’re so used to it it’s easy to be blase. I’m glad the women of today are changing the culture but I can’t say I’m particularly emotional about it.

As regards Mr. Spacey, I still think he’s a great actor and his misdeeds won’t keep me from seeing his films (if he ever makes another one).

We’ve encountered instances where date rape was charged, whereas it impressed us as a woman giving in to persistence, which she could have resisted, but later regretted.

Another instance was a woman agreeing to sex with a man who was emotionally manipulative.

We’ve also discussed implications of consent/rape when both parties were intoxicated.

And we’ve heard of several instances that impressed us as largely reflecting bad judgment and poor choices by the accuser.

But I’m not about to engage in a discussion of my wife’s and my definition of date rape.

This attitude could be due to seeing sexual harassment as just a fact of life. But it could also be due to seeing sexual harassment as nobody’s business except the people involved. In earlier generations, there was more of a tendency to keep celebrities’ (actors, politicians, etc.) private lives (and their sexual misbehavior) private. SH wasn’t okay, but it needn’t affect the person’s career or public persona.

My Boomer sister recently retired. In the early 1970s she was number two at a local manufacturing plant that was part of a big business.

During a meeting with the plant manager and some home office bigwigs one of the out-of-town guys patted her on the butt and said “Go get us some coffee, honey.” She grabbed his wrist, smacked his hand onto the table, and said “I don’t do coffee, sweetie.” The next week she got a phone call from one of the other attendees offering her a position at the home office. She told this story when it happened – not 30 or 40 years later.

Around that same time there was a guy who chased after, pestered, and harassed Sis for five years, constantly asking her to go out with him, dance with him, kiss him, etc., despite her constant rejections. They celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary a couple of months ago.

There are, and always have been, women who choose to take responsibility for their own lives, as well as women who choose to be silent victims (not talking about actual victims of violent crime [and not about the idea that rape is always an act of violence]).

My mother died recently, and so isn’t here to ask, but I reel safe in saying that sexual harassment made her see red. She wasn’t even a Boomer, having been born in 1940, so she was about 6 years too old.

She believed Anita Hill, and absolutely hated Clarence Thomas with the heat of 1,000 suns. When the movie 9 to 5 came out, in something like 1980, she was so very glad that people were finally talking about workplace issues for women. I’m not sure if the term “sexual harassment” existed when the movie came out.

My mother was absolutely not a person to put up with any kind of crap. She was in academia back in the 1960s until she retired just before the year 2000, and sexual harassment was not something she felt she had to tolerate. She didn’t have much time for women who felt otherwise.

I don’t think anyone dared ever harass my mother; but more, my mother had the back of any woman who wanted to complain about being harassed, and that was at true in 1969 as it was in 1999.

My mother, more than any peer, taught me not to take crap from men.

So, no, you can’t generalize about “older” women.

I was in the Navy from '73-'84. I recall stuff that was definitely harassment, and a couple of occasions of assault (not rape, but definitely unwelcome contact) that I mostly blew off, figuring it came with the territory of working in a predominantly male environment. I was pretty shy back then, too - not at all confrontational.

The me of today would react a lot differently (not that anyone is trying that crap with old, decrepit me) and I’m glad to see that more women are no longer just brushing it off as “boys will be boys” behavior. I wish I’d been stronger in my 20s, and I’m determined that my due-in-April grandchild will be taught what is and isn’t acceptable. I’ll be Grandma-daycare, so there will be plenty of time for me to have my say! :smiley:

My big disappointment today, tho, is how quickly innocent-till-proven-guilty seems to be going by the wayside in many of these cases. In fact, it’s downright scary to think someone’s life and career could be destroyed by a vindictive person. We may never know what was actual harassment/assault and what was a misinterpretation of an event or a deliberate act of revenge.

My 90-year-old great-aunt was not blasé about unwanted sexual advances received back in the day. She told me recently that “there was nothing you could do about it, but you hated the person’s guts afterward.”

Now almost all the men her age are dead, of course.

Yeah, that’s weird. Since what I have read, going after brother officers wives was Absolutely Not Done. It would lead very quickly to adverse consequences.

My mom was a RN before returning to school for degree in Anesthesia.

She’s commented about older patients patting her butt. Most of them were in early dementia and she didn’t get upset. She knew the ones that were handsy and she got good at dodging.

She used to joke that giving Anesthesia was safer. Since the patients were asleep.

Different mind set today. They’d probably call the cops on those brain addled old men.

My mom’s a boomer (1951). She really disappointed me with her “boys will be boys” attitude towards Donald Trump’s shenanigans.

I’ve reconciled everything with the thought that yes, this was all very common back in the day and yes women just stood by and took it. But we don’t have to take it now and we sure as heck don’t need to teach younger generations of women or men that this is ok. So my mom gets a pass on her passiveness because her mom and aunts and sisters weren’t trying to tell her that this isn’t right. But somebody’s got to make a change and the change is going to have to happen with me. I hope for the sake of my nieces that my mom gets on board.

Any chance they feel different about Spacey because he didn’t target women? In my experience identifying/not identifying with the victim can have a big impact on outrage

The type of contact used to matter. A pat on the butt is a lot different than a hand that tries to go under a skirt.

That distinction is gone these days. Ex Senator Al found that out.

Football players pat each other on the butt in front of huge crowds and I am pretty sure that isn’t sexual harassment. It isn’t something I would do to a woman because it is disrespectful but I think even that is stretching the definition.

My mother and aunts would never dream of viewing sexual harassment as just something that comes with the territory of being a woman. They have all shared stories with me of their own encounters with pathetic men, but they absolutely did not shrug their shoulders or accept such things.

My mom told me a story about a well-known writer who came to my parents’ house for a party. My dad was a writer as well and they often hosted parties for that crowd. This particular writer grabbed my mom’s bum and made a crude comment. She said, “Get your hands off me. Don’t touch me again.” He apologized. He was used to behaving this way due to his status and the adoring fans who hung on his every word. But it absolutely was sexual harassment.

That’s just one story but a typical example of the way that older women in my family react to such experiences.