To the men …

As we approach the centennial of U.S. women getting the right to vote, the two leaders are white haired old men, and the media is filled with discussion of how the country is still not ready for a female president.  This nonsense only compounds my frustration with the lingering white male hierarchy.  I have long been tolerant of the minor sexist transgressions of men.  For many it has been a transition from how they were raised.  However, as the decades pass, with little change – and I get older – I find my patience wearing thin for the same old nonsense.

Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against men.  I spent most of my youth mostly around men both gay (theater) and very macho (cowboys). Most of my best friends, throughout my life, have been men. But it is past time for some of those views of male superiority to end.  This is for those men.

To the man who tried to talk me into a custom tub to shower conversion, because “no shower pans exist with the drain on the left” – I suggest you try that line on someone who doesn’t spend nearly as much time at hardware stores as she does at the grocery store.  Since bathroom remodeling is your career, I know you are aware that these things exist.  Don’t ask me to pay more than I need to, just because you think I’m naïve.

To the man who called my tractor “cute” and decided he needed a bigger one – I have been waiting to see you do something with your tractor that I cannot do with mine.  I have yet to see it.  In fact, my tractor gets far more work than yours.  I sure hope that $7000 ‘testosterone tax’ you paid for your tractor was worth it!

From floor to ceiling, the tackroom that I built!

To the man who complemented the tackroom I built – your comments might have been more appreciated if they were not punctuated with so many notes of surprise.  It’s nice that you finally said you could not have done better – but why was there any doubt that I could do as well, or even better, than you?  You are not a builder by trade, so your only perceived advantage is your genitalia, and the inborn construction knowledge that is imagined to come with it.

To the man who asked if I had a man at home to use the tools I was buying – not only was I buying the tools for myself, but I actually know how to use them!  I have more tools than the majority of men I know, some of whom aren’t even familiar with what many of the tools do.  In fact, I have female friends who can say the same!

To the man who said that I can be “rather stubborn” about how I want my arena graded or my fences built – when you have spent forty years helping to build and maintain equestrian facilities, then you can come back and tell me how an arena should be prepared.  Just because  you have more muscle doesn’t mean that you automatically know more than me.

To the man who told me that I needed to act a bit more dumb and needy to get a man – why would I want a man who needed that?  I know that you meant well, as a friend; but did you really think about what you were telling me to do?  Why can men be who they are, and expect women to be attracted to them?  Yet we are expected to use makeup, change our behavior, even get surgery, if necessary – all to disguise who we really are, just to please you?

To the man who thinks that leadership equates to bullying – why are you still here?  The era of the tyrant leader ended a long time ago.  You dinosaurs, who use anger and fear as your leadership method, should have died out a long time ago.  The generations entering the workforce will make sure you do, as they will not tolerate it like their parents did.  Not only are women getting sick of it, but people of other ethnic backgrounds are also sick of your old white boy’s club mentality.  I may have walked away, but someone will rake you over the coals one day.

To the next man who says something that even remotely calls into question my knowledge, skill, or ability, with even a hint of it being about my gender – watch out!  My filters for that sort of thing are worn thin.  You might just be the recipient of decades worth of frustration in one go!

There are certainly many nice guys out there.  Some of those mentioned above are generally nice.  But the time of forgiving these antiquated notions of men being better at things simply by virtue of their gender – and acting surprised if a woman can manage on her own – needs to end now.  You’ve had decades to make the transition – your grace period is up!

On The Reality of Sexism

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 Womens march for votetortured, 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

Womens march down fifth Ave. 1970
First Women’s March down Fifth Ave. 1970

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!!!

2017 Women’s March on Washington

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!