Thursday, April 16, 2015

Riot, Not Diet

I had high hopes for this post; this week is the first time in about a month that I'm finally feeling healthy and back to normal after that dreadful cold that EVERYONE seemed to get at the exact same time, regardless of location or exposure. But the news this week has really only served to depress me.
Here's why:

Hillary Clinton is running for President of the United States. At first, I was overjoyed, then almost immediately saddened, because I know how polarizing she is and with the state of things in our country, it doesn't bode well for her. The offensive, terrible memes have already started about her, which leads me to believe she doesn't really have a chance and my childhood dream of seeing a female POTUS may not materialize in my lifetime. Also, it's depressing to hear people try to take her down knowing that so much of what fuels their ire is that she's a strong woman and unapologetic about her strength, which they fear. Seeing that I strive to be a strong woman who is unapologetic about it, I almost feel like their
take-downs of her are directed at me as well. Those memes, those commenters, the folks who put those misogynistic bumper stickers on their vehicles, are really saying, "We are against all women who try to achieve, who strive to excel. Who don't know 'their place' or simply won't accept it."

What especially irks me are the deniers. Not just the women who believe in equal rights but insist they are not feminists (honestly, I can only roll my eyes at them anymore) but those who insist the pay gap and discrimination and blame-the-victim politics are merely the invention of a group of whiners, that those problems really don't exist or are greatly exaggerated. NOT. TRUE. Almost every day, even in our enlightened little town (although certainly less often here than other places I've lived) there are discriminations, instances where I know was treated differently than someone with a Y chromosome would've been. Dismissed. Taken less seriously. My abilities and judgement doubted in a way that my male counterparts are not, simply because I am female. Mansplaining, being talked over, having my ideas dismissed then later introduced as someone else's and applauded, yeah, I've experienced all of that.

When I was working at a library in the midwest, I did the layout and design for our newsletter. I did a good job. In fact, our newsletter received a Best in Show award. The library decided they needed a new copier and felt that I should be the person to help decide what machine to go with, as the newsletter had some special printing requirements. A gentleman whose office machines company the library had done business with for years came by with a machine to show us and let us try for a few days. He set it up in my office. I introduced myself to him and he just looked amused. He asked for a copy of the newsletter to show how the machine could handle it. He looked it over and said, "Hey, this is really good. Where's the fellow who put this together?"

Politely, I told him I put it together. I was met with immediate skepticism. To the point that he laughed. "Nah, come on. Where is he?"

I showed him my name on the masthead and even pulled out my license to prove that we were the same person. He started to frown and his eyes narrowed. He still looked like he didn't believe me. I showed him my computer screen where I was putting together the next issue using Quark XPress. (Oh, how I miss Quark.) He started looking angry, and I realized he thought I was trying to take credit for someone else's work, that I was trying to pass myself off as something I wasn't. And that he genuinely did not believe that a young woman could've created that publication.

He finally sighed and told me he'd show me how the machine ran, and I should show the guy who did the newsletter when he got in the next day. But he could come back and show him, if I couldn't remember all the details.

He did not get our business. I used all the powers that I had to convince our director to go with a different company. But being dismissed like that, and practically accused of being dishonest about my work, still burns me almost fifteen years later.

I'm also depressed because I'm reading a history of the Riot Grrrl movement and I'm dismayed to see how little has changed, and in fact, in some ways gone backward. In spite of all our efforts toward progress, today we have a woman who has been sent to jail for having a miscarriage, a woman who had a pharmacist refuse to fill her prescription for a medication her doctor prescribed for her after she'd had a miscarriage, a woman in Ireland who died of sepsis because the emergency room she went to after she began hemorrhaging from the miscarriage she was having would not do a procedure on her that would save her life because they felt it was too close to abortion.

We have congressmen having closed door meetings about contraception and not allowing women to be part of the discussion.

We still live in a world where the victim of a sexual attack is blamed for what she might've done to invite the attack, but the violator more often than not gets a slap on the wrist and the sincere concern that the woman's allegation won't hurt the attacker's future.

A crazy woman in Arizona wanted a law on the books that would consider all women of childbearing age to be pregnant unless they could prove otherwise. Yeah, you read that right.  The proposed bill (which failed, thankfully) "contains a clause that dates gestational age from “the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman.” This effectively moves the beginning of a pregnancy to two weeks prior to conception.
Instead of being proof positive that she is not pregnant, her period will now inform every woman between the approximate ages of 12 and 55 that her latest pregnancy has just begun. And, she must assume that pregnancy exists until the moment her next period starts."
Yes. The only correct response to that is WTF?
And I don't feel I have the right to go into the horrors facing LGBTQ folks and women of color because my experiences are sugar roses on a honey-filled cake compared to the way they get treated and the things they have to face.
So yeah. I'm depressed. But I guess all you can do is your part. Keep fighting the fight, stand up for each other, learn more about and be respectful of each others' struggles, be a mentor to the younger girls coming up around you. When you meet a small child, ask them about their interests, don't comment on their looks. Teach the boys you know to be respectful of women. Support each other and speak out against those who want to hold us back. Watch and rewatch Tina Fey declare that "bitches get stuff done" and be happy that we have women like her and Amy Poehler out there.

Don't fall for the many ways society tries to trap women, like trying to get us all to fit into one body image ideal. Don't forget what Naomi Wolf said: "Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women's history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one." Count victories, not calories. 

As my new favorite shirt says, Riot, Not Diet.  (Although for god's sake, why does the photo only

show a man wearing it? Facepalm.)

1 comment:

  1. We all live in Ithaca because we like to dream of a more progressive USA, but the people in the hills out there...all the way to texas and beyond, some have some pretty scary and ignorant points of view. On the one hand Barack has incited more hate groups and threats, but you have to hope that he is also an example who is changing history for younger people and the future to come. Ditto Hillary--you hope she wins, does some good, and even with a horrible backlash, some steps are made, esp. for younger people becoming more open minded. Kinky Friedman said "justice may ride a slow horse, but will always overtake".