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There seems to be an awakening of the feminist movement in the Twin Ports area, as of late.
Recently, Duluth resident Abigail Mlinar and a few others formed a group called the Feminist Action Collective, and they hit the ground running. Originally formed in the wake of President Donald Trump's unexpected victory last November, to counter what they saw as a wave of misogyny, and general disrespectful behavior toward women emanating from the Chief Executive on down, the group has expanded it's mission to address abuse, disrespect and mistreatment of women at a local level.
Recently, a Superior City Councilor, Graham Garfield, was pressured into resigning his seat after the Feminist Justice League, another group that has formed, headed by Heather Bradford, threatened extended protests until Garfield either was removed or resigned. Garfield was involved in an altercation with his girlfriend wherein it was alleged that he physically harmed her, and brandished a firearm. Garfield has been charged with a felony in this matter.
The Homegrown Music Festival was held last week and Mlinar's Feminist Action Collective was on hand with yellow buttons pinned on the lapels of members, who were ready to assist anyone who felt threatened by "creeps" who tend to prey on inebriated women who are vulnerable. If one felt threatened or uncomfortable, one could seek out a person with a yellow button and that person would see to it that no harm would come. This is activism at it's finest.
What is going on with American men? Why are they terrorizing women like this? What can we do? I don't want the women I know to feel vulnerable and unsafe. Maybe the answer is something from the past.
When I was a young man, a teen-ager, I got to a certain age where I became interested in females, and in unlocking the mystery of how to get them, or at least one of them, to be interested me. My mother informed me that the best way to make myself appealing, was to learn to become a gentleman. Respect was the key. Kindness, patience, generosity, -these were all qualities that a young lady would recognize as appealing, even if I wasn't the greatest looking, or most athletic person around.
I took a great interest in this subject, and scoured used bookstores for archaic works such as "Etiquette" by Emily Post, "The Manners of Polite Society" and "Practical Life" by Mrs. Julia McNair Wright.
Armed with these encyclopediae of enlightenment, I took great care in learning the rules of a gentle society that existed largely in the past. The interesting truth I discovered was that the entire Victorian system of manners was based on respect and deference toward others, and above all else, respect for women, by men. Never was a woman's virtue to be called into question, even if faced with direct evidence, never was a hand to be raised toward a woman, and if abuse was witnessed, a gentleman had an obligation to put a stop to it, even to the point of physical restraint of the perpetrator.
Perhaps the schools of today, preferably the high-schools, should revisit some of these rules of the past, and teach a required course on the subject. I will end with a simple outline of a "Gentleman's Code" which we would all benefit from heeding, both men and women. It was written by John Walter Wayland, in 1899.
"The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe."