Sadly sexism, racism, homophobia have diminished
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It has been an interesting not quite five decades to live in. True enough of any decade in the century past.
Not that I knew much about the 1950s that I spent my first six years in. Or a good slice of the next decade. At least I can remember the early 60s. The sixties still has special resonance, maybe most strongly for people who weren't alive then. The birth of rock (if you ignore the 50s), sexual liberty, drugs. That was the late 60s and early 70s (maybe the 60s died when straight people discovered disco).
If you'd asked me in, to pick a year, 1973 I'd've guessed that by now pot would be legal, sexism completely dead. I probably would've made many other equally foolish predictions. Homophobia I couldn't have guess at. Living in Atlanta's midtown, sometimes hanging out with the demimonde, for a time working with the gay representative to the city's human rights commission, working on one of the few gay newspapers in the country - what did I know about homophobia (OK, yeah, and having the personae of a heterosexual).
Women were 'liberated' with surprising ease. Marybelle Morgan advising housewives to wrap themselves in saran wrap before their husbands came home, dour Phyllis Schlafly proved as powerless as they were silly. There's still too much sexism for me to want to be a woman. I don't know if women are relationship oriented, men fixated on their dick (more fancy distinctions available in any bookstore's self-help section). Probably the conditioning is there and propagated my many an average liberal family. Probably will diminish a bit ever generation. If I were a woman I'd burn with irritation to see it all gone down. (Do the gay men who call women fish still exist? The guys who flinch and go "ewww" at the thought of seeing a cunt?)
Racism is left to evil crazies. Witless Trent Lott proved the danger of showing even the most passive sympathy for the ugly, unregretted days of separate but equal. Back growing up in Savannah I remember the invisible lines, sometimes a high fence with barbed wire that separated the races. Black people had their own side of downtown. Watching Barbershop with Charles I remembered the shops, some of which had men sitting outside playing checkers all day long. If I were to go back to Savannah today the shop that sold "POWER!" lotion and "Jinx-Off" spray would be gone.
Savannah's racial geography was like a checkerboard. We moved to a new neighborhood every few years. A black neighborhood was almost always a few blocks away. It wasn't until I moved to Atlanta that I would live in a city where the black people mostly lived on their own side of town. If you are ever in Atlanta and drive down Ponce de Leon Street you'll notice the street names are different on each side of the street. White folks didn't want to live on the same streets as black people.
We of the homosexual persuasion (as I once heard it put) have our own glossy magazines with lots of ads for medications for people who are HIV+. The liquor and cigarette companies are happy to help us pursue a slower damnation. There's Will and the queer gang in Pittsburgh. Whatever is wrong with the mass media folks at least they are socially more liberal (and avid for our dollars) than the unwashed majority. Rick Santorum is a good reminder that while there aren't that many Fred Phelps fans out there gay people are still unwanted, threatening, creepy.
Sadly enough though we still can't legally affirm our commitment to our love (not that I want to but . . . ), can rarely adopt a child (certainly don't want to but . . . ), we may get beaten to death for where we drink , how our body moves, smiling at the wrong man --- it is lots better than it was in 1963.
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