Monday, August 28, 2017

Women's Equality Day, 8/28/17. What To Read, A Little Late.

Women's Equality Day was last Saturday, August 28th.  And no, its not a special day set up for 24 hours of gender equality, to be set aside for the rest of the year.

I was busy with my Giant Cucumber Plants and missed the date.  But not to worry!  Here are a few things worth reading on issues relating to gender equality*:

-  Tressie McMillan Cottom  wrote in July about the stolen childhoods of black girls, their stolen innocence and our lack of care for them as children.  I strongly recommend that piece which came out when I was mostly offline.

-  Jill Filipovic writes about the Catch-22, familiar to so many women, which Hillary Clinton faced when Donald Trump decided to stalk her on the debate floor, in front of millions of eyes.  Should she ignore him?  Should she kick him in the fork?  Should she yell at him call him a creep?

She picked the first alternative and ignored him.  But now she is criticized for it.  Filipovic notes that no option available for women in such circumstances is ever quite correct:

When women complain about being harassed on the street, we are admonished to simply talk back to our harassers. When we are beaten up or killed for talking back, people wonder why we provoked our assailants. When we are harassed or assaulted by someone in the public eye, we are presumed to be merely seeking publicity if we come forward. If we decide to speak out only when other women have done so first, then we must be lying, because why didn’t we mention this earlier?
This is familiar to many of us.  Its roots may be in our unconscious assumption that women are ultimately somehow responsible for the harassment they receive, even when that clearly is not the case (such as when Donald Trump breathed down Hillary Clinton's neck).**

-  The UK Guardian writes about a show which is based on "locker-room banter." The cast consists of four women who repeat the tales of men interviewed by the playwright Gary McNair.  It's hard to say whether the stories selected for the show are a random sample or the most extreme ones, but here's an example for you:

“The best thing that comes out of a woman’s mouth is your knob, I would say, aye.” “They’re only good for being in the kitchen … make my dinner then give me my hole, and then go to your bed.” 
Is this locker-room banter?  Just a joke?

If so, Trump's pussy-grabbing boasts might indeed be fairly mild examples of something much more hateful:  a culture of misogyny  —  I fervently hope that men with these opinions are a tiny minority.


*  All my examples come from fairly privileged places.  Women's lives are much more unequal in the rest of the world and truly dismal in certain countries such as Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.  Important work remains to be done.

**  Thus, we keep mulling over what Hillary should have done, in response to what Donald did.  We do not keep mulling over why Donald chose to stalk her around the stage in a public debate.  He has been given a weird kind of pass.

 In a related article, Paul Waldman asks if Hillary Clinton has abased herself adequately or not for her loss, and suggests that our thirst for this is at least partly based on the fact that she is a woman:

So again, why were other presidential losers never told to voluntarily submit themselves to a ritual humiliation? I can’t prove to you empirically that sexism is the reason that demand is only made of Clinton, but previous candidates didn’t find their occasional post-election comments greeted with headlines like “Dear Hillary Clinton, please stop talking about 2016” or “Can Hillary Clinton please go quietly into the night?,” or “Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be writing a book — she should be drafting a long apology to America” (that last op-ed began with the line, “Hey, Hillary Clinton, shut the f— up and go away already”). Only Clinton is supposed to beg for forgiveness, absolve everyone else of any sins they committed in 2016, and whip herself until we’re good and satisfied that she has been punished enough