What Do You Mean?
After a (somewhat deserved) comment from a TNA member on my last post, I’ve been thinking a lot about the words “non-partisan.” What do they really mean, going forward?
As for me, I am unabashedly liberal. I think that’s pretty clear. However, I can agree with conservatives, moderates, Republicans, evangelicals or whatever labels you want to come up with on the full enfranchisement of women in our society. This means ratifying the ERA, and all the things that come with it: full representation in government, being paid like 100% of a person, and the end of institutionalized misogyny.
I am constantly amazed by how easily a woman is dismissed by men as either a bimbo, or a hag, no matter how great her accomplishments or contributions. I see this in all areas of life, whether it be in the political arena with Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, my own experience interacting with men, or the way women like Rihanna are treated in the press. The fact that one out of three women experience physical or sexual abuse (or both) in their lifetimes should be a part of every story about this unfortunate young woman; yet far too often, the angle I see in the press is more along the lines of “the bitch deserved it.”
Until sexist, misogynist memes and laws no longer exist in America, we women must come together regardless of political affiliation, and keep speaking out and acting as one.
As a woman, I have been told various things by various factions in the feminist movement. One claims that gender is a social construction. This faction, in my opinion, falls into the category of denying reality. In fiercely and falsely asserting that women and men are the same, we open ourselves up to what I call the “Oh, Shit!” moment.
The “Oh, Shit!” moment is that pause before a woman realizes she is outnumbered by men who can do her physical or professional harm, and that there’s no way to fight them on equal ground. It’s that feeling when the cortisol rushes to your brain, your heart takes an express train to the bottom of your stomach, and the “fight or flight” instinct takes over. And what can you do at that point? You must flee, or be overwhelmed. And you understand that the myth of female/male equality has been nothing but a well-intentioned lie.
Let me share my own “Oh, Shit!” moment with you. When I was 17, I worked at Wendy’s in the summer to make some extra money. I had done the same the year before, and had enjoyed it. A lot of kids my age were working with me, and I like the service aspect of the work. (One woman told me, when I took her order at the drive-thru window, that mine was the first friendly voice she had heard all day.) However, this year, things were different.
This year, Wendy’s had decided to participate in an “Inside Out” program. This meant that convicts who were eligible for working outside the prison were invited to work at Wendy’s, to make their transition back to civilian life a little easier. It might have been a good idea for them, but for me, it was a nightmare.
- You Said It, Sister!
When I read Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s book, “Rumors of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated,” I felt as if I had been sleep-walking through the past twenty years of my life. (I hope that soon I will have the long-promised interview with the Congresswoman for your reading pleasure, but she is obviously quite busy on her book tour!) Through a devastating, methodical collection of facts and figures, the Congresswoman builds an airtight case for her premise: American women have NOT come a long way, baby.
Sexual harrassment suits are still routinely filed at places that are designated by female-led organizations as woman-friendly. Women still make 77 cents to every male dollar for doing the same job. Although many other countries, including the not-so-forward-thinking Pakistan and India, have had female heads of state, we Americans are still not quite able to bring ourselves to elect a female president, although many qualified women have tried and failed. Our business community has little to no support for women who want to participate in the workforce; no places for breastfeeding, no help for those who need daycare, and maternity leave for most is a thing of the past, having been replaced by “disability pay” – as if having a child were a disability! And as for a woman’s right to control her own body, although 6 years of Republican control over Congress, the Executive Branch and the Supreme Court has not led to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, certain factions within the Republican Party never seem to stop trying to chip away at reproductive choice. Just recently, HHS Secretary Leavitt put forth a proposal erroneously declaring some forms of birth control as abortifacients, thus opening the door to more “conscientious refusals” by anti-choice health professionals to prescribe them. Finally, the ERA has been dead in the water since it failed to pass in the 1970′s, the last time that a demonstrated, concentrated push for womens’ rights occurred.
Maloney’s excellent book offers practical, real-world solutions for many of these problems; among them, lobbying for specific legislation and networking with women in business to get more females into the top slots in Fortune 500 companies. But when all is said and done, the overwhelming thing we all must do is to elect more women to local, state and federal government. Why? Because of the 30% Solution.