(Let’s be honest; I don’t have something profound to say every time I log in.)
I am a feminist in that “respect until proven otherwise” should be the default setting between the sexes, I believe there is more to me than my reproductive parts (including the breasts) and ability to please a man, that I should get paid the same (perhaps more. I work hard), that all women are capable of making their own decisions regarding their bodies. “All men are created equal” applies to women, too. Of course, the man who wrote that was boinking one of his slaves. Small power disparity there.
I graduated law school and while there, encountered some young men who believed that women were attending for husband-hunting. I shit you not. All the nights I spent locked in my home reading cases, writing papers, and time researching in the library, I should have had 3 husbands magically appear (I wish. They could have paid the tuition for me). Not so much. In fact, I know of only two couples who met at school. In fact, most of the women who attended went on to substantial careers (a few of us didn’t follow the traditional path). So much for that theory.
Is it a male ego thing that they believe women inhabit workplaces or higher education primarily to meet a spouse (or partner)? Or when women show that they can compete on the same playing field, it makes their balls shrink? Back when I worked for Fidelity (which was a pretty good place to work), the big deal was to take the Series 7 exam, to be a licensed representative. This is the golden ticket; you can sell securities with it. The guys I worked with would stand around and brag about their scores. “I got 75.” “I got 78.” Well, I took that exam and passed with an 88. The next time the guys were comparing scores, I said, “I got an 88.” They fell silent and one said, “The score doesn’t matter as long as you pass.” I never heard the score conversation again. By the way, another woman who took the exam at the same time got a 92.
I worked in a department that assisted customers with resolving issues. Phone-based customer service. A couple of times, I picked up the phone and had a male voice demand that I transfer his call to a man. When that happened, we were instructed to politely try to get the customer change his mind. If not, we had permission to tell him to hang up and call until he got a man on the line. One time, my friend Jack was sitting nearby and said, “Give him to me!” I transferred the call, and Jack made himself sound like a gay stereotype. “Turbo swish.” (his term) That man called again; didn’t ask to be transferred. We also saw letters. One guy wrote in to object to a woman managing a mutual fund because (and I am not making this up) “All women want to do is go shopping and have babies. They have nothing but babies and clothes on their mind.” The female head of our department was not only a clothes horse, but also pregnant when that gem came in. She handled it personally. No, we weren’t allowed to read her reply.
Another life later at another company, doing a completely different job (due diligence underwriting), one of the men completed 82 files in a strictly data-entry project (“file scrubbing”). I’m pretty good at data entry; consistently clocked at 9800 keystrokes per hour with 0 errors (I could go faster, but I’d make mistakes). The men were marveling at his speed. I was assigned to that project the next day. I completed 127 files. The men fell silent.
I don’t see why I can’t stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone and be accepted. I believe we are all created equal, and that we should treat each other as such, regardless of, well, regardless of anything. One the fiftieth anniversary of the Selma March, someone from the NAACP remarked at the frustration of still having to fight the same battles now because of attitudes that should have died out a half-century ago. It’s the same with male supremacy. That should have died out, probably with the passage of the 19th Amendment, certainly after World War II when women undertook war production (Rosie the Riveter, anyone?). We proved ourselves. And still do.
I still hear, “Don’t let men know you’re smart” or “don’t show the men you can work as well as they do.” My late grandmother, said that in the mid-nineties, in fact. “Boys don’t like it when you’re too smart,’ she said as we were driving somewhere. My friend sitting in the backseat hadn’t been briefed on how to deal with Gram and blurted out, “That is such bullshit!” My sphincter snapped shut, my grandmother tried to backtrack (Another time, she had to backtrack from saying Tiger Woods had made golf less classy), and my friend is now a partner in a DC law firm (not married, but doesn’t seem to suffer from the lack of a husband).
“Take Your Child to Work” day started as “Take Your Daughter to Work” day. The idea was for girls to see women working and realize that their options were as wide open as their imaginations. But.. the men objected to it as sexist. “Why should only girls get this?” and the effort to show girls what they could be was watered down because men didn’t want women getting ideas. There is a parallel in Black Lives Matter being countered with All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. Dilute the power of the movement.
The attitude will continue as long as succeeding generations are taught these out-dated “truisms.” I daresay it played a major part in the outcome of the 2016 election. Not just who the Democratic candidate was (Sec. Clinton herself is not popular), but I believe a number of people, men and women, did not want a woman as President, regardless of who she was. It didn’t matter that England and Germany had both been lead by women, Margaret Thatcher being in the same hard-nosed conservative mindset as Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of the modern GOP. Nope. “What’s going to happen when she has her period?” According to Robin Williams, “intense negotiations every twenty-eight days.” Hillary Clinton has probably the best resume of anyone who has run for President in the last half-century. Foreign policy experience, legislative experience and relationships, activist First Lady (Arkansas and US), a willingness and capability to tackle the heavy, thankless work of governing. Had she been a man, the results would have been completely different. I know this.
I also know that a day will come where we won’t have this resistance to women as equals. After all, the glass ceiling has millions of cracks in it (3 million more than the current President). Who or what it will take for those cracks to finally merge and break that barrier, I don’t know. But I do know that it will happen.