The performing arts may be inherently susceptible to sexual tensions and trespasses. During the months of preparation for stage or movie productions, day and night blur, as individuals must melt into an ensemble, a foster family that will disperse as quickly as it cohered. Like athletes, performers are body-focused, keyed to fine-tuning of muscle reflexes and sensory awareness. But unlike athletes, performers must explore and channel emotions of explosive intensity. To impose rigid sex codes devised for the genteel bourgeois office on the dynamic performing arts will inevitably limit rapport, spontaneity, improvisation and perhaps creativity itself.
Similarly, ethical values and guidelines that should structure the social realm of business and politics do not automatically transfer to art, which occupies the contemplative realm shared by philosophy and religion. Great art has often been made by bad people. So what? Expecting the artist to be a good person was a sentimental canard of Victorian moralism, rejected by the “art for art’s sake” movement led by Charles Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde. Indeed, as I demonstrated in my first book, Sexual Personae, the impulse or compulsion toward art making is often grounded in ruthless aggression and combat — which is partly why there have been so few great women artists.
Women’s discontent and confusion are being worsened by the postmodernist rhetoric of academe, which asserts that gender is a social construct and that biological sex differences don’t exist or don’t matter. Speaking from my lifelong transgender perspective, I find such claims absurd. That most men and women on the planet experience and process sexuality differently, in both mind and body, is blatantly obvious to any sensible person.
The modern sexual revolution began in the Jazz Age of the 1920s, when African-American dance liberated the body and when scandalous Hollywood movies glorified illicit romance. For all its idealistic good intentions, today’s #MeToo movement, with its indiscriminate catalog of victims, is taking us back to the Victorian archetypes of early silent film, where mustache-twirling villains tied damsels in distress to railroad tracks.