Murmurings From Our Grumpy Old Park Benches

I’ve been reading the Tribune’s editorial pages now for almost 75 years. Including its New Deal agonies….Isolationist days…Cold War warnings….right through its current Nixon-to-Trump timeline. This can help a reader sense patterns. One we proverbial grumpy-old-men talk about on our proverbial-old-park-benches is the number of commentaries from enlightened but impatient young women.  

If we’re counting right, the tilt has been toward how the male of the species still exploits the female. Unquestionably an historical fact; at least until today’s gender-less Millennials. However, on the flip side of this fact is the confusion of those grump-old-men who may agree, but are left struggling to find just the correct fit. How to stand with the enlightened female without exactly breaking ranks with our own gender, because we still like a two gender world.

First, consider the workplace. Especially its unofficial lexicon. Here females are neither girls nor gals; they are women or ladies. They are no longer secretaries; they are administrative assistants. And above all, they don’t get coffee. 

Next the public setting. Out here the guidelines get fuzzier. The enlightened male has to know his audience. There are women who appreciate male courtesies, others who resent it. So on trains and L’s he may or may not offer them his seat. Entering elevators he may or may not let them enter first. On the other hand, in traffic it’s apparently still every driver for him/herself.

At social gatherings many of the preceding guidelines melt away. The crucial fact here is how to navigate among social-friendly, social-imperative, and social-pickup. Friendly means to smile and do a lot of listening; no female has ever been proven impervious to the sound of her own voice. Imperative is when you offer a strong opinion, but remember to forget the old tribal assumption wise elders are always men. Social pickup? Well, that probably still remains an art form in which each hunt must still rely on the practiced skills of the individual hunter.

The Tribune editorial pages will surely continue to address the important issues of the day. When it comes to the rise and role of the modern woman, it is only right to hear from the female of the species. On the other, more nuanced side, the males of the species who straddle post-Victorian America [first half of the last century], and post-Modern America [second half], also wish to go on record on your pages.

We get it. We respect it. Just remember, though, how hard cultural shifts like this can be. Look how much work it took you…..

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