Posted by: canthold | January 15, 2008

It’s Time For Solidarity

I wrote this post yesterday. I have not been sure if I wanted to publish it because when I have written like this in the past (lost posts) I’ve gotten some outright mean comments back. But I don’t want to keep quiet about something I’m passionate about, even if it’s polarizing. I know there are a lot of women voters out there who are on the fence or uninterested in Hillary for one reason or another, but this presidential election is too important to be ho-hum about. So after reading this post today on Menstrual Poetry’s  Feminism At Its Finest, I thought – what the heck. This is my opinion and I can’t hold my tongue.

It’s hard to be a feminist. It’s hard to want equal treatment in this world and watch while women are having their populations reduced, our genitals mutilated, and our competence questioned (glass ceiling anyone?) We’re forced to sit back idly without the means to help.

Our own sisters will not even call themselves feminists because the desire for equal rights has been tainted by the very society that will not let us have them. It doesn’t have to be this way. This presidential election is not about Hillary Clinton specifically or having a woman president generally, it’s about the opportunity to symbolically and practically change the world.

Women have been in power before – Thatcher, Gandhi, Peron – and people accepted and sometimes loved their leaders. And yet we, American women, feel we need to wait around for the right woman to come along to satisfy our highly stringent requirements for the perfect woman president. We can wait, so we think. But if we wait, we’ll be sending a message that women in the most powerful country in the world are not as liberated or as free as we claim to be. We can tell the world that we aren’t all that smart because we cannot figure out how to unshackle ourselves from male dominance that is disguised as mainstream.

I believe that we have a hard time standing together in a united front because we are too trained to criticize and seek perfection. We are critical of ourselves and every other woman around us and we struggle between hating that we’re required to be perfect and demanding perfection of others.

There is no perfect woman out there. We can never be considered perfect with unrealistic standards by which to measure ourselves.

Recently Hillary was caught in a moment of (supposed) weakness that solidified women around her – showed her as human. I like the interpretation from an article in the Sunday SF Chronicle better. She thought she was building “a bridge of understanding” about the struggle to rally the cause. Because we’re all in this together, rather than some dumb Obama plant. (Read this article, it’s good.)

A speaker at the luncheon I attended last weak made a reference about how far we’ve come that we don’t get chased around the desk anymore. Everyone laughed. I might not have been the intended recipient of that reference – I’m too young to have experienced that, right? – I actually had an outright blatent sexual harrassement encounter in my early career days. I was shocked! The young women today who think we don’t need to fight for equal rights need to know that as recently as 1994, sexual harrassment impacted my career. It’s not a long lost phenomenon that we can safely forget as ancient history.

I think it’s time for American women to ask ourselves: What do we want? Who is the most likely person to get us there? Who can relate to our struggles and connect with us so that we are a strong collective group?

There might be some really good candidates that stand alone out there. We might like them and find them to be more or less representative of our values. But for women, if we’re not looking at who is going to give us all the most powerful voice in the world and seeing a woman, then perhaps we’ll never find the equality we seek.

It’s time.

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Responses

  1. I’m so glad you read the carnival, I haven’t seen a post from you in a while; you used to submit a bunch! I agree with you, though, it’s definitely hard to be a feminist and I’m not even going to say “sometimes” because it’s usually most of the time or even all the time; especially with so much sexism going on in the world today. Great post.

  2. Thanks, Holly. My lack of participation is only a matter of time constraints, not interest. I like what you’re doing over there.

  3. These are interesting points. I still haven’t made up my mind about which candidate I like – not that the Texas primaries mean a hill of beans – but I’ll definitely think about what you’ve written. It is true that we women are too hard on ourselves, and maybe that is what’s going on with those who don’t think Hillary is the perfect candidate – maybe there is no perfect woman candidate.
    Which reminds me – I was running with two friends just before the primaries in 2000. One friend, who is a little naive and a little sheltered, looked at me and the other friend and asked, “So, have you decided who you’ll vote for – McCain or Bush?” She was a bit taken aback when we both answered with “Neither!” It hadn’t even occured to her that we might not be Republicans!


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