Tom Fulks

Step aside, men — it’s women who are leading the resistance

By Tom Fulks

Americans have always worn our left-right political divisions on our sleeves.

Yet the peril our nation faces today transcends this traditional divide. We need a temporary truce in our fight over taxes, foreign policy, Russian influence, social change and everything else that sours our holiday family meals.

Let’s clash over that stuff later. Right now we all need to throw in to help America’s women rescue our democracy from the imminent national and global emergency that is Donald Trump.

As we continue our dreadful daily showering off from the president’s maniacal tweets and dangerous behavior, let’s pause for a moment to appreciate the recent nation-changing obliteration of male dominance in nearly every aspect of American life.

This long-overdue development places women on the front lines of the resistance against Trump and his autocracy-craving supporters.

Trump’s daily assaults against our democratic institutions — the press, the law, science, honor, honesty, decency, reality, normalcy — coupled with the ubiquity of sexual predation by powerful men in government, business and media, has triggered a female backlash so profound the nation will never be the same.

Good. There’s hope for salvation.

Trump precipitated this dramatic change by being the most personally loathsome American president in history. The raft of other despicably bad men in the headlines are mere undercards compared to the power of the president.

The epidemic of outrage fatigue numbs us. That’s Trump’s intent, isn’t it — to debilitate us, render us unable to resist?

But resist we must. Outrage isn’t enough. Action is required.

American women must join this fight en furious masse — in the streets, in the voting booths, in the halls of power — if we’re to succeed. It’s never been more urgent.

The guys aren’t getting it done.

About that: I had intended my last column as an homage to female political muscle, to women sweeping into elective office nationwide in the recent off-year elections. It wasn’t received as such by everyone.

Supervisor Adam Hill posted the piece — under a somewhat provocative headline, “Sometimes we’re jerks. But not all of us are sexual harassers” — to his private Facebook page, followed by more than 4,600 people, where it triggered energetic debate.

One of Adam’s friends launched the discussion with this bon mot:

“I personally don’t think men deserve some kind of award for not sexually harassing women. This not-all-men crap simply derails the very serious conversations we need to be having about toxic masculinity, consent and rape culture. ...

“When there’s a conversation or article about racism, it would never occur to me to jump in and say: ‘Not all white people are racists.’ ... I think the conversation should be pointing out behaviors and language that contribute to our sexist culture. ...”

Said another: “... . Just as nearly 100% of women have been a victim of a man in one way or another, I would assert with confidence that nearly 100% of men either assaulted or harassed a woman or ignored another man who was doing it.”

The sharp commentary, civilized rebuttals and valid counterpoints made for the kind of dialogue I’d enjoy at my holiday dinner table, and provided a measure of clarity.

It’s clear men need to listen more, work harder to understand what women say, and honestly strive to act on what we learn from every woman in our lives.

No man can ever feel what women feel or completely understand the depth of women’s anger and resentment.

Women’s frustration with men’s blithely assumed supremacy and resistance to change is deep, genuine and lifelong. Women’s tolerance for men’s BS is spent.

My last column attempted to convey many men are trying “get it,” but that came off to some as just so much more BS.

But it’s sincere. We’ll stumble, seem like idiots for missing the obvious, but the aim is true: Most men are on women’s side.

Men can’t make women believe it. But we can try.

We’ve reached a pivotal moment in American history. Hopefully, we’ll emerge better for it.

Americans have fought for the soul of our nation before. We must do it again.

So as we coalesce to the resistance against Trump’s war on our democracy, facts, truth and sanity, let’s acknowledge:

It’s women who must unite us — left, right and center.

It’s women who must carry our battle flags of rage into the breach.

It’s women who must lead this fight.

We can’t win it without them.

So how about a truce amongst ourselves while we try?

Liberal columnist Tom Fulks serves on the San Luis Obispo County Democratic Central Committee. His column runs every other Sunday, in rotation with conservative columnist Andrea Seastrand.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune