Were women sacred back in General Kelly’s day?

I’ve vowed not to write about Trump, just General Kelly, because Kelly and I share a bit of the same background — same age, same hometown. Here’s a bit of what he said the other day:

You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases.

Here are some things I remember from growing up, like Kelly, Catholic in the Boston neighborhood of Brighton in the 50’s and 60’s:

  • Birth control was illegal and also sinful, except for the rhythm method. One time I was looking for something in my parents’ room and I came across a little pamphlet about the rhythm method. This totally creeped me out, because it strongly implied that my parents had sex, which seemed incomprehensible to me. I became aware much later that merciful ob-gyns would sometimes administer unneeded hysterectomies to women whose bodies (and lives) were wearing out from constant pregnancies.
  • Divorce was also sinful, and hard to come by even if you decided to go ahead with it. So abused women just had to take their abuse.
  • The best public high school in the city was Boston Latin School. Except girls couldn’t attend it. (They could go to Girls’ Latin, where my mother went; it was pretty good, but not the same.)
  • The best colleges near our neighborhood were Harvard and Boston College. Neither admitted women on an equal footing with men until the 1970’s.
  • There was no such thing as intercollegiate sports for women — at least, nothing like today.
  • Women, if they worked at all outside the home, were mainly teachers, nurses, secretaries, or sales clerks. The Globe helpfully divided their Help Wanted section into male and female sections, in case you weren’t clear on the concept.
  • Boston teachers weren’t allowed to teach after they became pregnant. In the 60’s, a sister-in-law of mine hid her pregnancy for as long as she could because she and her husband really needed the money.

These sorts of things are, I assume, not what Kelly had in mind when he talked about looking upon women with great honor. Maybe he was thinking about holding the door open for them, doffing your hat, giving up your seat on the subway. Maybe he was thinking of religion: May processions in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, statues of her in the front yard or on the living room mantel, kneeling down in front of her to say the rosary along with Archbishop Cushing on the radio. This is the rosy view of the past as seen through a conservative lens. This is MAGA in the mind of a true believer.

Only a true believer would tell a blatant lie about a black woman to make a point about how sacred women are. Only a true believer would ignore the many ways in which his boss has not held women in great honor. In a tweet, the New Yorker claimed that Kelly was Trump’s latest victim. But he’s not a victim; he’s an enabler. He’s not trying to save the country from Trump; he’s trying to help Trump do a better job of destroying it.

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