"Chicks compete in the world, and they think a pair of pants goes with it. They're really unbelievable. And they're not gentle. And they're not women."
—comedian Mort Sahl, Playboy roundtable, 1962
I first came across these comments when I was researching my college senior thesis about porn and the sexual revolution. For me, it epitomized the defensiveness (and vulnerability) men felt in the face of feminism, which had only begun to take hold. Every time I re-read these words, I feel grateful that even if some men have similar thoughts 50 years later, at least most of them have the sense not to admit it to the media.
A few, on the other hand, feel perfectly fine with airing out their anxieties to the world. Yesterday, Rep. Todd "legitimate rape" Akin told the Kansas City Star that he still thinks he has a good shot at defeating the incumbent:
"I think we have a very clear path to victory, and apparently Claire McCaskill thinks we do, too, because she was very aggressive at the debate, which was quite different than it was when she ran against Jim Talent. She had a confidence and was much more ladylike (in 2006), but in the debate on Friday she came out swinging, and I think that's because she feels threatened."
Now, on the surface, Akin appears pretty cocky, a man who certainlydoesn't need any advice from me. But this latest winceworthy remark only drives home his deepseated uneasiness toward the 2012 woman. Akin's views are cut from a 50-year-old cloth, from a time when men were aghast and alarmed at women's independence, and they weren't afraid to show it. If he wins in November, it'll reveal less about him than about how far we haven't come.