By Robert A. Vella
The 21st century is still new, but it hasn’t been very kind so far to good ole U.S. of A. The 2000s began with an economic recession as the 1990s dot-com bubble burst. Then in quick succession came the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the subprime mortgage crisis, the Great Recession, the Gulf oil spill, the electoral rise of right-wing extremism, international turmoil particularly in the Middle East, political scandals galore (too many to mention), racial violence, the specter of catastrophic climate change, the ascent of anti-establishment populism, and the unexpected election of President Trump.
Amid all this tumult, an increasing number of observers began seeing the very fabric of American society – its culture – splintering into divergent factions. Lines of polarization became distinct over politics, economics, the purpose and role of government, class, ethnicity, religion, immigration, region, war, and other issues. Some asserted the internal divisions plaguing the nation rivaled that which had triggered the Civil War. Many others wouldn’t go that far, but knew the country was far from unified. Most could intuitively feel that something was amiss in their daily lives. All were aware of a growing distrust of America’s large social institutions.
Now, we can add more weight to the idea that American society is fracturing internally with a new opinion poll suggesting divisions over sex. From: It’s Not Just Mike Pence. Americans Are Wary of Being Alone With the Opposite Sex.
Attitudes reflect a work world shadowed by sexual harassment. In recent news about Uber and Fox News, women see cautionary tales about being alone with men.
In interviews, people described a cultural divide. Some said their social lives and careers depended on such solo meetings. Others described caution around people of the opposite sex, and some depicted the workplace as a fraught atmosphere in which they feared harassment, or being accused of it.
“When a man and a woman are left alone, outside parties can insinuate about what’s really going on,” said Christopher Mauldin, a construction worker in Rialto, Calif. “Sometimes false accusations create irreversible damages to reputations.”
He said he avoids any solo interactions with women, including dining or driving, as does his girlfriend with other men. When he needs to meet with women at work or his church, he makes sure doors are left open and another person is present. Others described similar tactics, including using conference rooms with glass walls and avoiding alcohol with colleagues. “Temptation is always a factor,” said Mr. Mauldin, 29.