Column: Wake up, old man


Photo credit: Anna Brodsky

In the 2017 Women’s March, women came together to continue the fight for gender equality. Recent events have proved the fight for female justice has only begun.

By Azel Al-Kadiri, Columnist

 In the powerful new age of the Me Too movement, sexual assault victims far and wide have been courageous enough to share their deeply painful stories. Consequently, we have watched some of our favorite public figures and politicians tip like dominoes en route to their karmic downfall. 

On Aug. 10, 2021, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned after being accused of sexual assault by 11 women in an investigative report. For many years, my household of New Yorkers adored Governor Cuomo’s East Coast charisma, clear communication and that classic “we got this” attitude. His family-man facade gained the trust of New Yorkers for 10 years, reaching new heights in the dark early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, according to his victims, it was Cuomo’s seemingly lovable persona that inflicted the manipulation.

One of the many alleged female victims was an executive assistant. She recounted Cuomo’s relentless hugging, rubbing and kissing. She said in a recent news article, “Any time he touched me I felt like it was inappropriate. He was my boss, let alone the Governor of the State of New York, so I definitely felt he abused his power and definitely knew that he had this presence about him, very intimidating.”

It’s disgusting and inappropriate, but Andrew Cuomo’s behavior towards women is no surprise. In his own words, Cuomo said, “In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn.”

Consequently, Cuomo’s resignation is probably frustrating to some people, and I can understand why. How can we sit here and criticize a state governor when our current president, Joe Biden, has been accused of a lot of the same offenses? 

Many Americans have been forgiving; in fact, some may argue that men like Joe Biden and Andrew Cuomo are “misunderstood” and “not up to speed” with how to treat women in 2021. The question is, how should society hold men accountable for behavior that was once so normal in society? Is it fair to assume these older men simply don’t know any better? While some of us may roll our eyes at this thought, I know I do, others sympathize with the generational gap of men stuck in their “old habits.”

This familiar psyche of powerful men is one at the epicenter of gender norms. It’s the timeless principle of a dominant man in matrimony with a flaming ego. As male leaders gain authority, women become objectified in the process, inevitably diminishing our value as humans. Like many before him, Cuomo equated his position of power to physical entitlement directed at women he believed he could control. We’ve seen it before, and we will see it again. 

Yes, it is true, Biden and Cuomo are most likely not inherently bad humans. After all, there must be a good reason we elected them, and a good heart and mind are at the forefront of that. Their true colors are something that can only be seen behind closed doors and, unfortunately, are something we will never know. However, now we must pose the question: should we give these alleged predators the benefit of the doubt? What you decide is up to you, but what I know is that these highly influential men that we trusted are supposed to be our leaders. 

As the public, we will never know what is true and what is fabricated within these accusations; still, we can’t ignore the undeniable parallels between Cuomo and Biden, older men accused of abusing their power in a sexual nature. The truth is, that 25 years ago, many of these violations would have been an average Tuesday for women. But this is the 21st century, and it doesn’t matter how friendly, intelligent or respected men like Cuomo and Biden are – demeaning kisses, butt rubs and creepily long hugs are simply intolerable. Society has moved on.

At the end of the day, I don’t think the success of a nation bears as much worth if the individuals in power are not held to the highest account. Every vote, handshake and speech mean nothing if victims are cowering at the mention of a Cuomo or a Biden. The old man generational excuse can only be used for so long, women have had enough. Did I like Andrew Cuomo? Absolutely.

But all I have to say now is good riddance. To all the powerful men in the world, I say cut it out, or you might well be next.