By Robert Field
Although I had thought about retroactive morality for some time and had already started to write down notes for an article about it yesterday morning, the point was made by another during Torah study that the “goal posts” for morality are constantly moving. I added that we need to keep in mind where they had been.
Of course physical assaults and threats of job influence by men on women were not to be condoned. But much accusations of the so called “sexual harassments” taking place more than two decades ago can be blind to the values and practices of the day.
Back then, women were not to be outwardly receptive to the prospect of sexual intercourse with a new partner. A woman “hooking up” in those days would have been seen as a “slut.”
Women were to be “seduced” lest they appear to be of loose character. Hence the saying “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker” because having a couple of drinks gave females cover to “submit” for sex. To put it even more crudely, “No, no, no …” (sigh) amounted to “yes.” After that, the intimacy boundary usually ceased to exist.
Fortunately women over the decades became empowered in the work force and in the home. They no longer have to play the virginal role of the past. It is appropriate that the “goal posts” have been moved, albeit it certainly brings confusion and risks for young males… and I suspect also females But that is for the younger generations to figure out.
Let us not so readily condemn flirtations and attempts to kiss of the past without a sense of the times. Nor should we forget what often took place between co-workers and even bosses and subordinates at the year end parties fueled by much alcohol consumption.
By today’s standards, a significant portion of males of the older generations would be guilty of “sexual harassment” and in some cases perhaps even worse. And yes in many cases it was often unfair to the female. But it was the courting custom largely practiced in its day.
Every generation has the right to move the goal posts. But let’s not forget where they had been when judging people.