15 February 2016

Disjointed thoughts about being a lady

First I'd like to talk about a conversation that we had at my house, last fall.
I've been turning it over in my mind for months.
I'm not sure if I said the right things, or if there are even right things to say.

A few months ago, we were watching some sports game at home. I don't remember which. Probably baseball. Maybe football.
I don't remember what game we were watching, but I remember that it was all four of us, Quentin and Gabriel and Everett and me, and I remember that Gabriel asked me, Do you think they'll ever let women play? Like not on their own teams, but with men?
I said no, no I don't think that will ever happen.
Why not?
Because the men wouldn't let it happen.
But aren't there women who are really good?
And I told Gabriel that, while there is no doubt in my mind that there are women who are just as good as some of the men who are being paid to play this sport, men don't want women to be just as good as them, and to play on the same field, and to be a part of the exact same game.
Now that I think about it some more, I'm pretty sure we were watching football. Because Quentin interjected that women aren't physically built like men, and it isn't exactly equal, and they wouldn't be just as good, and it's not just that men don't want them to play.
And he is correct, that generally speaking, men are taller, and stronger, and bigger. But all men are not more physically imposing than all women. There are women who could physically compete with men, even in football. Not every single female is "built" to play football, but some of them are, and it doesn't matter
This particular conversation then wandered into professional sports' history of racial segregation, and how the color barrier couldn't just be broken by the athletes that were just as good as the white men playing. The men who broke those color barriers had to be the best athletes. And the team's desire to win had to be stronger than the league's desire to keep these men separate.
So for a woman to play on a men's team, she couldn't just be as good as the men. She would have to be the best.
But if she was the best, I think the men would hate her for it, and they wouldn't let her play.
And Gabriel asked me why the men get to decide.
And I told him that is a thing that women are fighting to fix. And that men have to fight for it too.
I told him it's his job to stand up, and also to stand aside, and to fight for women even when he doesn't have to.

It's his job to speak out for people, and it's also his job to listen.

And then (and I think you can see why this day has stayed with me), we went on to voting. How first it was white men, and only white men, who got to decide everything.
And then they let brown men into their club (but they did it kicking and screaming and in many cases managed to subvert the spirit of the law and continue to keep those men out).
But it wasn't until much later that women finally got a say in matters.
The order of preference, in giving rights to people, gives them to those with penises (preferentially in order of lightest to darkest) first.
Then women come after.
Which is not to say that there isn't a powerful oppression of black and brown men. That there aren't situations where a white woman is better off than a brown man.
Intersectionality, you see.

So. No, Gabriel. I don't believe that men are ever going to let women onto their sports teams.
I work in corporate America.
Maybe you do too.
So maybe you already know that in an office, at the staff level, there are typically far more women than men. But as you work your way up the management chain, it flip flops, and at the top the men far outnumber the women.
Plenty of people who are far more intelligent than I am have written far more about this than I ever will.
The burden of child rearing and the effect of parental leave policies disproportionately affect women.
Strong men are leaders and strong women are bitches.
And sure, I do believe that in many cases women are less likely than men to lean in.
It is also that men, not all men (eyeroll), but lots of them, are fucking offended by the very concept of being led by a woman.
And that women can't get a job by being just as good as the men who would like that job as well.
A woman has to be better.
It is not enough to be equal.
I work in corporate America, and I am a mother, and I have a family.
In order to be taken seriously I have to be PERFECT.
If I want to be considered for the same opportunities and not have my infant held against me in the court of corporate politics, I have to be flawless.
I have to produce higher quality work more efficiently than the dudebro next to me who doesn't have a hard stop at 5:00 to pick up his kids because his wife will do that for him. Even if we both leave at the same time every day.

Can I tell you how angry it makes me, that Hillary Clinton, the most qualified presidential candidate in memory, has to tell a debate moderator (with a smile!) that she will indeed pick out the china if elected president? That she will perform her wifely and womanly duties. That she will not emasculate her poor husband by being the leader of the United States of America.
I have boys.
I get a lot of people telling me that boys are easier than girls.
Or, "They're more trouble now, but you'll be happy for the broken bones when you don't have teenage girls."
Maybe you have girls, and you hear this too.
First, it's bullshit.
I have three brothers, and every single one was a difficult teenager, and they were all more difficult than either my sister or me.
They had all the emotions of a HUMAN BEING, but also they weren't supposed to be emotional because they were supposed to be MEN, not some kind of ladyboy, and also they were filled to the brim with testosterone, and they were angry, and in some cases they were flat out criminal.
They came through it okay.
But they were not easy.
And they were not easier than me. Not easier than my sister. Even though we are both female.
Boys are not easier than girls. They are not less emotional.
Girls are not quieter. They are not more gentle.
Maybe it's true sometimes, for some people, because humans are diverse as fuck, and they come with many personalities and family dynamics and ways of living.
But it is not a fact of parenting boys.
Or girls.
I personally believe that we hear this load of bullshit about girls being harder than boys because we are so terrified, as a society, of our teenaged girls having sex.
It would be so terrible to have a daughter who is also a sexual being that it is better and easier to have a son.
I have no conclusion.


  1. I HAVE NO CONCLUSION EITHER. BUT I AM RILED, I WILL SAY THAT. And more so recently, with this political situation; and with people arguing with me on the name blog that it's normal to use the dad's surname and shouldn't count as anything done in his favor, but he should have veto power over using the mom's surname if he just doesn't like it very much; and finding out that because I stayed home and raised the children I have CRAP Social Security and CRAP career prospects while Paul has GREAT Social Security and GREAT career prospects, and really I would have been better off if I and another woman had both worked in daycare situations caring for EACH OTHER'S children, and so on.

  2. The only conclusion I keep coming back to is that THE WORLD IS A TERRIBLE PLACE.

  3. I've heard more than one man say he was glad to have sons instead of daughters because WEDDINGS ARE EXPENSIVE. How is this even still a thing????

  4. Gabriel and Everett are lucky to have such a strong and wise mother.
    We can only move forward when we discuss these topics with honesty.

  5. I would love to link to this on my Facebook, but I don't want to bring you crappy traffic/commenters. As always I fear that the people who NEED to hear it won't and it will just be one more thing not being heard in the midst of things. Thank you for being you, and teaching your children important things.

    1. Crappy commenters are part of the internet we live in, unfortunately. We shall persevere!

  6. You crystallized a lot of what I've been thinking about lately. I hope I get to calm down before November!

  7. I love how clearly you taught the history of sports and voting and how it takes effort to make changes, by everyone, but there are definitely people opposing those changes. Lovely post.

  8. Honey I am SO GD HAPPY you're back!!! This is your old friend LilSass �� I have a TON of responses to this and will eventually come back but I need to pipe in about the Hillary comment. You and I heard/interpreted her comment about the China totally differently. You are celebrating the fact that she didn't emasculate her husband. What I heard was "picking out China is OBVIOUSLY woman's work so I'll handle that." Um no. Picking out China is not the role of the Leader of the free fucking world. So the spouse SHOULD be picking by out the China (or delegating that idiotic bullshit to an unpaid intern). But the fact that she is going to take that on ... While Bill does "other more important things" that female spouses have never geek given is complete and utter bullshit. Bill is not her assistant/personal secret insight to Washington. He should serve the same role all the other spouses have. And if he wants to reach the bar that Badass Michelle Obama has raised then so be it. Badass politics AND China-picking-out.

  9. Oh my yes to so much of this ... bottom line - parenting is hard work - especially when you recognize your duty to be the adult and not try to be the friend. It is also challenging to help children/youth to learn how to be critical thinkers without brain dumping your own politics ... sounds like you had an awesome discussion -- and I am sure it is percolating for Gabriel, too. I had the honor of hanging out with my nephew (almost 12) for a few years right after my sister passed away. We spent one afternoon (at least) every week -- and as soon as he got in the car, the questions would start. I agonized a lot over how to answer -- with my points of view or my sister's or his father's. I tried to be balanced, but in some way giving him my point of view was balancing other points of view he heard at home. I have a tremendous respect for parents who wade through this interaction every day ... Gabriel is a very lucky young man -- you are such an awesome mom!