Monday, April 21, 2008

Win or Lose, We Still Have a Long Way, Baby

With the PA vote loaming on the horizon, I’m going to resist writing about the Primary race. We’ll know enough tomorrow night, and I can wait.

I can’t really wait but I have to so instead of getting anxious now, I’m going to wait until about 5pm tomorrow.

I am struck, over and over again, by how gender plays out over, and over again. The way one can talk about a woman, her body, her dress, her voice, her hair, her makeup, is mind blowing to me. I cannot believe it’s encouraged.

Often.

I sat in the train station this morning and listened to a woman talk to a group of women friends. My back was to her and I could not see any of them. She commented about an obvious mutual acquaintance of the group’s.

She said I was pretty enough to be her friend. Can you believe it?

With only my ears, I imagined a twenty some year old was speaking. When I stood up, I saw a group of forty something year old women.

What?

How is it that we have gone through the struggle for independence and equality, for centuries, and still be our own worst enemies?

I posted the picture yesterday because my friend Donald sent it to me and it did, in fact, look like one of the Christmas drag parties. (He really doesn’t look that bad in a dress, though.) The first thought that went through my mind was that I always found the women against abortion were women no one would want to sleep with.

I’m doing it, too.

All in good fun, and that was the intent of the photo. It made me laugh when I opened it. I am not, by any means, the most politically correct person to ever walk the earth. I do, after all, eat meat, wear leather shoes, and quietly believe in investing in the stock market.

But where and how do we draw the line?

Girls have, for the last decade, outperformed boys in school. And yet, when they graduate from college, the real world sets in- all the good grades mean nothing. Women are paid less, over all. African-American men make more than white women.

I guess those 50 extra years of voting rights made some difference.

Seriously, what happens to women after college? Is it the way our educational system is set up? Is it that women are better trained to be factory workers- the current standard of our incredibly outdated system- and then fail later because they are not competing in a factory world?

What about the experience, the socialization in schools, that leaves women at times vicious with each other? I mean… what kind of mess brought us the likes of Ann Coulter?

Mostly, I wonder, why it is that being anti-Obama has garnered me some of the most hateful accusations of being racist, but when I point out the misogynist comments made about Clinton I’m told to get over myself?

That’s just the way it is. No harm, no foul.

I wish I had some answers, some studies to point to, or some solutions to offer. I don’t. I embrace the girls in my life and encourage them to be stronger, faster, better… I’m not sure that’s the right thing to do. I can’t imagine changing something without taking it over.

It’s playing the boys game by the boys rules. I’m not sure women will ever win in that arena. I’m becoming more and more certain I don’t want to win.

I want a new field, a new place, and a new image of success. One that reflects the best of what women can be, as women, not the sum of body parts men find attractive. I have no idea what that looks like but it is something to try and dream of. What a school would look like, a business, a government in a matriarchy, minus all the negatives women carry about themselves.

Regardless of the election results in November, I appreciate Clinton’s run for the presidency. Win or lose, she has gone out in the boy’s game, the man’s world, and balanced gender rules the men she’s running against haven’t a clue about. She’s done it by being stronger, faster and better… and I’m still not sure that’s the right thing for women to strive for.

But until we have that new place, the new field, we are only left with the familiar arena. If the girls in my life are ever to be given the tools to create a new image of success? We will have to get past this one first.

12 Comments:

Blogger Sue J said...

Excellent post. I think maybe one reason why Hillary Clinton's women supporters are so loyal -- even when she wasn't initially our first choice -- is that we see her battling in this campaign against all the nuanced sexism/misogyny whatever you want to call it that we all fight against every day in the working world and beyond.

I look at her and think if she can't be elected president, what woman can? I mean, how much higher do we have to jump to prove ourselves equal to men? She's already gone leaps and bounds beyond Obama, yet he's the front runner.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Fortune Cookies said...

Excellent post! I believe that the main reason that women are so supportive of Hillary is precisely what sue j said, she personifies every feminist battle we fight for every day in our own lives, and she emerges ahead, with dignity and poise.
I think that possibly this works as her detriment as well, in that men naturally are frightened by what is unfamiliar to them. Hillary has never been afraid to take a stand, even when it was not a popular stance, and speak her mind. I think the boys in Washington (and in the news rooms)find that to be too threatening.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Morgan said...

The thought is, in the long term, the more women entering the playing field, the playing field changes. But as you have noted, we are changing, not making change once in the game. Men are changing also. Maybe not as fast, women are more adaptable; but a larger majority of men are accepting of women and minorities next to them in the workplace. I visualize in the future the playing field having an androgynous look in values. Unfortunately, I don't believe we are necessarily carrying forward some of our best values.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous donald said...

i have great hope that with women like yourself, sue j, and many many more out there, who are working hard pointing out the inequities in the workplace and in government, that we will begin moving in a to a more acceptable place for both women, men, gays, lesbians, etc. where people are embraced for their contributions, not based on race or sex. we have a long way to go, but i hold out great hope that we ARE beginning to break down the barriers. keep on challenging us!!

and please, don't become too PC, i love your edginess. if you do become to PC, to whom will i send my silly jokes and photos?

9:53 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

nah, donald, I never made a good PC lesbian. got too annoyed with the whole process thing.

I mean, I love me some process but... not around ordering pizza.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

I get some hope from looking at the alternatives. Worst case: McCain wins. This is still a country of 50 states. I'll stop being proud of being an American, but I'll accelerate my scheduled move to California and become a proud Californian. You can be a proud whatever a resident of MA is called.

Second to worst case: Obama wins. We'll still be proud to be Americans, but we realize we've still got work to do.

Either way, we start from the outside and move toward the center, gathering allies as we go. If we become voices in the wilderness, we'll still be voices, and other voices will be joining us, just so long as we come close to speaking the truth.

We never give up. Never. Never. Never. We never give up.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Sue J said...

there's a process to ordering pizza?

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Portuguese. I discovered its by chance blog that much pleased me.
I wait to come back with more time and attention.
Happinesses

http://www.valsa-lenta.blogspot.com/

12:21 PM  
Blogger Valsa Lenta said...

I am Portuguese. I discovered its by chance blog that much pleased me.
I wait to come back with more time and attention.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

welcome valsa!

8:43 PM  
Blogger arlene said...

I support Hilary-she smart intelligent and not afraid to stand up and support all issues and yet they are always trying to bash her -go Hillary!

2:54 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Thank you for the strength and hope you give me every time I read this blog.

8:34 PM  

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