People Power and Women

 

 

Finally my series on women’s issues and my people power posts converge as I reach the point of advocating an overthrow.  Time for women to use their power to take charge.  Not just beg for an equal place in the patriarchy.  Overcome the patriarchy.

The last post I wrote in the Women series explored the exploitation of women in the sports world, with a long look at the Larry Nasser disaster at MSU and in U.S. Gymnastics.  The more I examined the shocking degree of sexual abuse happening across the country from early school through college and on into professional sports, the more dismayed I became at the lack of real protest.

When I talked to various women about the enormity of the problem, they were all distressed but also shrugged and assured me nothing would happen “because it’s sports…”  The  attitude from other feminists shocked me even more than realizing we have an epidemic of sexual abuse against women in the sports world (and of course beyond).

It was the first moment I began to understand how deeply immersed in the patriarchy we are.  Men can molest and abuse women starting in middle school and it’s not only covered up but only the parents of those molested protest.  Surprisingly the Moms are not sufficiently outraged by the treatment of girls to withdraw their children from sports activities.

At MSU women students did not immediately transfer in protest.  Parents did not take their daughters out of the school or refuse to allow girls to apply.  Other than some editorial letters and outraged phone calls I could find no sign of any large scale protest at MSU demanding policy changes and assurances of protection for the women who attend the school.

No parents organized a boycott of all MSU sports until action is taken.  Nothing.  Not even the parents of girls think girls count enough compared to male sports figures to stand up for them.  I could find not a single news story in the entire country about parents organizing any kind of major protest or boycott at any level at any school where widespread sexual abuse had been reported.

I haven’t stopped reeling at the comprehension of how very little value we women have in this society, even among women.

In the meantime, I watched the #metoo movement catch on and listened skeptically as various women talked about how we’d never go back now.  Been there, seen that in the ’70’s.  We thought the tide had forever turned.  Until we realized it turned back the other way.  By a year or so after the wave of “Me Too’s” peaked I started hearing about Wall Street firms stopping the hiring of women in order to avoid harassment claims.  T.V. sets where women complained of harassment and producers failed to even report the claims.

Oh boy are we deep in the patriarchy.

Then I read an amazing article, Men are 100% Responsible for Unwanted Pregnancies.  Step by step the author goes through an eye opening litany of the ways in which men are responsible.  Starting with the fact that women are only fertile about 24 days a year compared to a man’s 365 day fertility.  In wanted pregnancies, there is an agreement and both are participating in a decision.  In unwanted pregnancies there is at least a failure to prevent and at worst a cavalier irresponsibility on the part of the man who is inevitably part of the equation. Moving on to the horrible side effects of birth control pills compared to the relative ease of using condoms or getting a (reversible) vasectomy.  Well, please read the article in full.

Again I was left reeling at the depths of the patriarchy.

Even the Women’s Movement has failed us here in my opinion.  The strident insistence on protesting and taking stands about abortion is in itself a patriarchal position.  By fighting about abortion and women’s right to choose after they’re already pregnant, we completely sidestep around the real issue and behave as if women get pregnant by themselves.

If men were held responsible for their “boys will be boys” mentality and held to account for failure to take all precautions to avoid causing a pregnancy, abortion would not even be an issue.  Give men jail time and big fines for causing unwanted pregnancies and there wouldn’t be any.  End of abortion problem.  Should suit both the pro- and anti-abortion factions.  Yet no one even raises the possibility.

Because the patriarchy has such an insidious hold even feminists don’t really see it.

When I look at the years since we first took off our bras and marched around for women’s rights in the 70’s, I see:

  • no Equal Rights Amendment
  • women making less pay than men across the board
  • women being assaulted and raped while men for the most part go unpunished
  • men who truly do not understand why they should be punished
  • women coping with issues of pregnancy as if men have nothing to do with it
  • men getting away with abuse, inhumanity and heartlessness while exercising control over everything to see it doesn’t change

The more I look, the more I’m ready to take a radical leap.  It’s time for women to stop begging for a few more places at the table of patriarchy.  It’s time for us to quit hoping to be taken seriously enough to get paid the same.  It’s time for us to quit letting boys and men off the hook for sexual violence against women.

We need the feminine.  We need humanity and compassion.  When women rule, education, care, kindness ensue.  Men aren’t going to give it to us.  Men will fight for us not to have it.  It’s time to take over.

Yup, it’s time for women to revolt.  It’s time to quit messing around about equality in their world and in terms of what they’re wiling to “let” us have and be.  It’s time for women to take charge.  Question is, how many women are ready?  #WomenRevolt #BurnthePatriarchy #WomensRevolution

The Women posts:

People Power posts:

 

@Alyssa_Milano @marwilliamson @ewarren @GloriaSteinem @TaranaBurke @angelajdavis @scotusginsburg @Oprah @TheGirlMalala @MichelleObama @jameelajamil @justinbaldoni @MargaretAtwood @EmmaWatson @rgay @EverydaySexism

Women’s Issues: How We Treat Each Other

In my last post, I talked about women and the “right to be sexy”. The sexy issue ties in with the issue I think looms largest for us, which is the degree to which women are so immersed in the patriarchal culture–and the “romance” fantasy that serves it so well–we don’t treat one another as equal to men.   If we women don’t see one another or ourselves as equals, how can we expect men to?

When we favor men over women

The realm of dating/romance is where I see this problem most clearly.  Since my college days I’ve scratched my head over the norm in which most women will dump a plan with a woman to go on a date with a man in a blink.  There’s no hesitation, the dump is generally conducted with the unspoken assumption doing something with a man always trumps any plan a “girl” has with anyone female.  With a wink and a “you understand” both women collude in placing any time with a man in a category of “above” or “better than” any time spent with a woman.

Doesn’t matter if the woman has been your stalwart friend for years, held your hair while you puked, shared your secrets, stood up for you against the guy who broke your heart, if some man you barely know asks you on a date for the same night as your plan for dinner and a movie with a woman friend, you dump the woman — wink, wink because we all understand the man is better.  Any man, no matter how little known or how bad he may turn out to be is just more important.

I can’t quite decide whether I feel more disturbed by the women who dump their women friends so readily or by the friends who accept it as natural and right to be dumped any time there’s a chance to do anything with a man. (I will admit I never demurred–knowing it was a losing battle–but the women who did it to me got put at arm’s length and went way down my list of trusted people…; I don’t take kindly to be treated as less valuable than a man)

I told many men, back in the years when I was serial dating, that I had a plan on the night he asked about, could we choose another night.  Never once did a guy say no to a different day.  So I got to enjoy the plans with my girlfriends and then enjoy the date.  No good reason to discard the girls’ night in favor of the man.  Except maybe you don’t think women are as worthy of your time.

I know few women who would say this out loud or even admit they feel that way.  The behavior says otherwise.  I’ve known strong, independent women with impressive jobs who would flake out on a plan with me in a heartbeat if any man whatsoever asked them out on a date.  I’ve known women with amazing resumes who’ve turned on me snarling at the suggestion that women shouldn’t treat one another that way.  “Stop being childish” or “you’re just being naive”.

I’ve never said I think shifting that mentality would be easy.  The fairy-tale-happy-ending fantasy has become a deeply rooted delusion of our culture.  Issues about men and women and romance are usually complexly tied to unresolved issues about Mom and Dad, so generally get into the heart of our deepest wounds and issues in the world.  Add in the deep cultural undercurrents about men being stronger, smarter, faster, more capable, better at leadership, etc. and you have a formula for women putting men and romantic relationships with them before all else, in many cases unaware of the degree to which they’re doing it.

Nor am I saying you need to hate men or eschew marriage.  I’m not sure why so many women put this extreme interpretation on any efforts to get them to shift their behavior and offer more esteem to women, but I think there’s a middle ground.  You can love a man — hopefully one who admires and respects you and treats you as his equal — and still love the women you know and give both types of relationship equal weight.

I make no claim about how we shift all these intertwining issues.  Or that it will be easy.  But as long as women are treating one another as second class citizens and refuse to even acknowledge it’s what they’re doing or the fact it’s a problem we need to address, I don’t see how we imagine men will ever treat us as equals.  We have to feel like equals and treat one another that way first.

When we don’t see our own worth

I’ve also been looking around at studies on the pay gap and the low numbers of women in upper level positions of business and government.  I was interested but not surprised to see besides gender discrimination, many bosses report women are less likely to demand a raise or promotion and studies found women are also far more reticent about putting themselves forward.  (Probably not helped by the general male attitude that any woman who does push for advancement is a bitch…)

In a society where women are raised as less than, often told their main jobs are cleaning and child rearing, so many of us lack the kind of confidence and self-esteem most men take for granted.  Most of us are so entangled in the world view of a society that values men over women it is hard for us to feel confident and worthy.

Some inner searching and working on raising our sense of worthiness are so important if we want to break out of our web of male privilege and achieve real equality.

When we stand together

Our best hope, I think, of stepping outside the patriarchy and insisting upon equality is to support one another.  To help one another heal the issues keeping us in thrall of romance, the issues of low self-worth and confidence, the habit of valuing men over one another, etc.  Together we heal.  Standing together we are a force.