The lead story on Axios this morning was Sexual Harassment. The story has taken over the news, it seems. And doubtless, some feel it is a distraction. But there is a very good argument that sees the story as part and parcel of the general state of affairs, not merely in the US but globally. If that is correct, we will see stories of abuse from every quarter for some time to come.

Not only that

The abuse stories may themselves be the tip of an iceberg, The iceberg is what used to be called, in French, the droit du seigneur. Originally this apposite phrase was the license given the lords of manors.

It permitted them to sleep with the new brides of their vassals.

If you reflect on history, you can see that the same cruelty and impunity we see today has its roots in the power to force a submission at will. Because men ruled with almost no exception, because their brute power was greater, and because women were trained to fear and submit, we have inherited a society that is only beginning to wake from this cruel patriarchal past.

It is unquestionable that within the letters MAGA is a summons to return to a time when male dominance was unchallenged. But we need not go backward. Male power remains alive and largely undaunted. Still, we can and will overcome.

What we are seeing is a push and pull, a battle joined.

The battle is to achieve tolerance and democracy in our relationships on the basis of mutual fairness and respect. We have a long way to go but we will get there.

The presidential card

Sadly we have a president who is a poster child for patriarchal rule. This is the man who calls graphic accounts of violating passing female “locker room talk.” This man presides over a country where evangelicals who say they follow Jesus actually follow Trump.

Jesus was a conspicuous and vocal opponent of abuse.

There are myriad ways of attacking women indirectly or obliquely. You can do it by not paying her fairly. You can do it by taking health measures to limit her freedom to decide what she can and cannot do with her own body. Trump has started filling the US courts with white men who are a step removed from the mentality of some of the public men who have been accused of abuse, including the president.

Achieving victory

By championing tolerance, democracy, and helpfulness, we will achieve victory over the binary philosophy of those who commit and countenance abuse. We will see that our task is to abolish violence itself – all efforts to achieve mastery over persons by force. This is the reason why universal ethical values are the key to our future.