The date is 8 March 2018, aka International Women’s Day during Women’s Month. Today is a token, reluctantly offered to half the population of the world to pretend to recognize our contributions in 2018, a Year of Men, one of thousands, during this, the Era of Men. But then, I speak as a woman in the United States. This is not a good time to be a woman in the U.S.A. It’s probably better than any other time since the arrival of Colonizers, but it’s not good. Perhaps elsewhere in the world being a woman isn’t a handicap?
At 51, I am late to put so much effort into truly understanding how we got to where we are. In the past, my halfhearted efforts were wedged between long work hours and chores, exhausted, trying to support my family on a woman’s wage. Time for research and reflection (and activism) was short. I did what I could. Most of the time it wasn’t enough; I should have found a way to do more. Today I find myself struggling with concepts like “intersectionality” as I try to understand how we got where we are, why we’re as far as we are but not nearly as far as we should be. In the process I seek out examples of people and methods for achieving progress toward equality for all, not just women, but for all people.
I’m hopeful today because a bunch of young people, Emma González and Sarah Chadwick, for example, are working hard to get sensible gun laws passed. I’m especially excited about them because they are part of a new generation of future leaders. Some of these young men and women haven’t even graduated from high school, but they’re already demonstrating the ability to lead and to motivate, to grasp ideas that elude many of our older leaders (such as if the gun violence problem boils down to easy access to guns, let’s make them less easy to get rather than casting blame on all of our other issues – inability to afford mental health treatment, poverty, video games, etc., anything but our gun laws or lack thereof – in order to ignore all of the issues/causes). These people have taken the focus off what we can’t do, yet, and put it on what we can do. And they’re not taking “no” for an answer. We can and will learn from them if we choose to. I choose to.
I’ve been looking for people like these, searching for that recognition that keeps hope alive, that inspires, that stimulates those among us with good intentions into decisive action, people who give me hope on this Women’s Day during the Era of Men. In the course of my quest, on which you, Dear Reader, have accompanied me, I research concepts that I’ve struggled with and then. . .
I know, right?!
Fuck this guy. Seriously?!
It’s Friday now. I’ll back date this post to Women’s Day because it’s a Women’s Day post (and my blog so my rules), but fuck this guy in the ear. Sideways.
This tweet was the spoke in my wheel yesterday. It was one out of many because Thursday was, after all, Women’s Day, and men just can’t fucking let us have one day to recognize what we’ve managed to accomplish despite them, what we manage to do as well or better than them. . . while menstruating (and/or with a baby hanging off a teat and two more holding our ankles as we try to take steps forward) and with our hands figuratively tied by the limitations of our laws and society.
presses fingers to temples
Okay. This is fine. I’ve got this. When I brought up this “spoke in my wheel” to my guy last evening, all I had to do was mention “Tucker. . .” and I could hear his eyeballs rolling around in his head. To his question about what “that fucking guy” has said now, I simply read the Tweet. My guy’s demeanor and words matched perfectly: “the man’s [Carlson] words are astonishing but not surprising.” He’s right. And I shouldn’t have let it stop me in my tracks. I guess you never know what’ll do it on any given day.
My guy must be sick of apologizing on behalf of white men, yet he keeps doing it. A friend of mine does, too – he apologizes to me and to his wife. Those two aren’t the problem; the ones who know to apologize aren’t the problem. And they do what they can not to be a part of the problem all the time, every day.
I’m not even going to address that in 2018 Tucker Fucking Carlson still hasn’t noticed that every day is White Man’s Day and always has been.
“To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable, and powerful, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” – Hillary Rodham Clinton, 9 November 2016
And I’m not going to berate myself for letting that schmuck get to me for a little bit. I’m going to remind myself of all the times I kept on going when any normal person (aka man) would have thrown in the towel or whined that it’s too hard. For all the times I kept on going because there was nobody else to do it and somebody had to, I will allow myself this one. You women know what I mean. You’ve done it, too.
And hell, bringing it up in a closed group of women I’m in yesterday provided the break, the humor, and the motivation I needed to dig back in today. These women inspire me. I wish I could share their location and wisdom with you, but then that would take away what makes the group so special, the fact that it’s just us (though there are many of us, hundreds?) and we know we can be ourselves in that space. We can ask questions. We can be wrong. Even more importantly, we can be right. Where else in the whole fucking world can women do that? They were the inspirations I was searching for in famous people, I think. They are right in front of me. In front of us.
For now, I’ll go back to this struggle to grasp “intersectionality” among all the other issues that make me want to throw my hands up and proclaim, “Just stop being dicks to each other, for fuck’s sake, people. Problems solved!” It’s obviously not as simple as that, but it’s probably also not as difficult as we all make it out to be as we define ourselves with a list of identities rather than letting each trait be a part of the whole, a part of the one person we are in the community that is humanity. Inspiration is all around us every day, but we have to open ourselves up to it. We can’t be too busy working and raising our families and miss it. We’re living in a beautiful and important time. We’re part of the work to be recognized as people, as citizens of the world. We must be present. We must take part. They will recognize us all one day. WE will recognize us one day. We just have to be prepared; we have to keep showing up.
From a speech Hillary Rodham Clinton gave at Wellesley College in 1992 (quoted from The Atlantic):
“Each new generation takes us into new territory. But while change is certain, progress is not,” she said. “Change is a law of nature; progress is the challenge for both a life and society.” Quoting Vaclav Havel, the Czech writer, political dissent, and later president, Clinton urged the students to give in to “throwing yourself over and over again into the tumult of the world, with the intention of making your voice count—only thus will you really become a person.”
Happy International Women’s Day to all the women out there and to the men who get it. I learn from you. I love you. Please don’t ever stop working and inspiring us all to be better. *hugs*
Link: “Hillary Clinton’s Wellesley Homecoming” – by Anna Diamond at The Atlantic
Link: “Hillary Clinton’s Concession Speech: An Apology, and a Message for Young Girls” – by Emily Jane Fox at Vanity Fair
Link: “They survived a school shooting only to wage battle in some of the nastiest corners of the Internet” – by Geoffrey A. Fowler at The Washington Post
Link: Uppity Woman – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: Through – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link: According To Men. . . – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters
Link to original tweet from New York Magazine with quote from Tucker Carlson.