"A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle." - Gloria Steinem
I grew up with these words. My mom had made a handpainted shirt, for herself, with the sentiment. It was a green long-sleeved T with a scoop neck, and she had done some really cute illustrations for the fish and the bike. I liberated it from her at the age of 10 and wore it until it fell apart.
I have been a feminist all my life. In the straw poll held at my elementary school in a fairly conservative town in liberal Massachusetts, I voted for George McGovern.
When I was in college, I campaigned hard for the Equal Rights Amendment. I canvassed for NOW and NARAL. I volunteered for a rape crisis hotline.A large part of my undergraduate work was in women's studies.
I hit my head hard against the glass ceiling, more than once, but still found a way to achieve "traditional" career success in the Internet software industry.
I did not change my name when I got married, and not just for professional reasons, although I readily admit "Getgood" is not a bad name for a marketing professional. I do wish it didn't map to the Treo provisioning software, but that's another story.
I discuss gender here on this blog. Often. Everything from the gender imbalance of the so-called A-list and the speaker rosters of high profile tech conferences to an anonymous blog supposedly written by a woman that just rings false. From harassment to the wonderful W-list meme.
I sit here today at 45, what I fervently hope is indeed the middle of my life, and I wonder. While women have indeed come a long way, we haven't gone all the way toward equality, not by a long shot.
And god damn it, I want to know why.
I want to know why politicial observers think it is okay to analyze Hillary Clinton's hairstyle, make-up, and fashion sense, but not Rudy Giuliani's, assuming he had any. Hair I mean.
I want to know why Facebook continues to get glowing press in USA Today when it seems to have a frat boy mentality that shows little respect for women. Banning photos of women breastfeeding, and then running a personals ad on the Facebook page for the group protesting the ban?
I want to know why women, even politically active women, feel that a man's voice carries farther than theirs, even when the issue is theirs. And please don't misunderstand -- I appreciate it when a politically aware man steps up to the plate and stands up for women's issues. But his voice shouldn't carry farther than hers.
Twenty-five years ago, actor Alan Alda spoke at an ERA fundraiser at my college which (small brag) I organized and managed -- everything from selling the tickets to dealing with the press, and this was BI - before Internet! We were lucky enough to get him because one of his daughters was in my class.
He told us then that women have every right to expect, to demand the same rights and respect as men.
We've earned it. We continue to earn it.
Why don't we get it? RESPECT.
I really want to know. Because we don't. Not across the board. And it just doesn't make sense.
Women still have to be better, smarter, brighter, faster, meaner, leaner than their male counterparts to get as far. Often for less pay.
Society in general still devalues the work of the stay-at-home mom while putting ever increasing pressures on the working mother. It's not right, but it is. Sure, there are glowing exceptions to this generalization, and there are wonderful companies doing wonderful things for the parents of both genders in their employ.
But they are exceptions.
Young welfare mothers still often have to stay at home, and on welfare, even if they don't wish to because they cannot afford childcare. And of course, they're looked down upon because they aren't "contributing."
People still suggest that a mother should breastfeed her child under a blanket or in the bathroom. Come on -- do you want to eat YOUR dinner in the bathroom? Sure, seeing a woman breast feeding in public may be uncomfortable for some people, but if it is, you just have to get over it. Because it is her right. Her legal right.
And so is giving a child a bottle instead. Personally, I'd like to see a little more tolerance for women's choices, on all sides. We cannot, should not, forget that the baby bottle was one of the things that made it possible for women to stay in the workforce after having children. Mother's milk may be best, and I applaud women who make that choice, with all that it entails. But formula ain't that bad, and it is important to understand that it is every woman's choice. Respect it.
A woman's choice. Her right to decide. I won't get into reproductive rights in this post, but let's face it, those are under assault too. All the time.
Why does our society have such a hard time with successful women? With women making public choices, for themselves, for their families?
With appreciating women's sexuality without objectifying it?
Why do we continue to define success by masculine measures? Morality too.
I really want to know.
Posted @ 5:10PM in Gender
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