Long ago and far away I had a brief “discussion” with my older brother. He maintained that his life would be richer than mine because he was male, and I was a mere female (he did not put it quite like that, but looking back the inference is there). Being a history buff almost from the minute I could read, the idea was immediately rejected in my mind. After all, women had starved, been essentially tortured, and endured ridicule in order to provide future generations with the vote, ability to own property in their own right, and equality of life issues. The early clues of my naiveté were forgotten as I matured, such as being relegated to the kitchen washing dishes while the rest of the family was in the living room watching TV. My one year at WSC was proof, to me, that women were on a par with their male counterparts as I was welcome even in a seminar meant for upper level students…and aced it.
A few years after that I was picking up units at a JC in Redding, CA, and unsuspectingly walked into a physics class, to be faced with a male instructor stating categorically that women did not do well in his class. Needless to say I walked out and changed classes. Years later, attempting to complete my degree at U of W in Seattle, I entered the Speech Therapy Department office to sign up and was told by
the rather old, red-nosed chairman, women do not do well in this department. As a recently abandoned wife I was too fragile at that moment to fight back, changed my major, and therefore the trajectory of my life. Upon completion of degree requirements and entry into the required quarter of student teaching I faced another dilemma. It was the era of mini skirts and without transportation I was riding a bike to the grade school to which I was assigned. I chose to wear slacks for obvious reasons, and the first thing the woman Principal told me was that pants were not allowed…but mini skirts, it seemed, were fine! Fast forward to graduate school in California. I was in need of a small loan until I could get a part-time position. Filling out the paperwork I came to the line that required, if the borrower was female, a signature from the husband or father. (That is no longer required). I was forced to beg my father to sign, and endured his lecture on paying it off. I was a mother, and in my thirties.
Recently my very articulate daughter shared a post she had written on her Facebook page, and I have chosen to use her words to speak for all women:
I am tired …
I am tired of the patriarchy.
I am tired of women being called weak or hysterical if they show emotion, while a man is “sensitive” when he does.
I am tired of women being labeled as cold and unfeeling if they don’t show emotion, while it is called “strength” in men.
I am tired of a man being called assertive, while a woman acting the same way is called a “bitch”.
I am tired of men, and women, thinking that “boys will be boys” excuses all the abhorrent sexist, and even sexually violent behavior out there.
I am tired of people worrying about how a man’s life might be ruined by allegations, charges, and convictions of sexual violence, without considering how the women’s lives have already been ruined.
I am tired of comments about women not smiling enough.
I am tired of worrying that what I say will be seen as bitchy or too aggressive, while I sit in meetings where men yell at other people, or put them down, but are called “strong leaders”.
I am tired of an expectation that I have to live up to some agreed upon standard of beauty, in order to get any attention from men, while they can be fat, ugly, orange painted slobs and expect beautiful women to adore them.
I have been tired for a long time, as I’ve experienced and observed the embedded sexism in our society … but the events of this week have just made me angry! It is not about the two people at the center of the storm – we do not know the truth and never will. No, it is about how our country is reacting, and the fact that for all the progress that has been made in my 50+ years, women are still judged by standards NEVER applied to men, and have to play by a different set of rules. And it is about the fact that we are still not appropriately represented in the government that affects our daily lives. We are more than fifty percent of the population, and we deserve better!!!
I could not have said it better. Ladies, know your history, fight for the rights your dead sisters won for all of us, hold your heads high and never give up. We owe it to the past to protect our daughters future!