Strong Heroines in RL vs. Knuckle Dragging Cave Dwellers

Two broadtail hummingbirds fighting over a huge amount of nectar

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
George Orwell, Animal Farm

The quote above is usually presented in the context of class warfare, but I see it as more than that. It’s 2016, and I’m disappointed that women are still not considered equals in the workplace and life in general.

I’m watching the political show this year. It is a show. No matter what you believe, those people have a few short months to grab your attention and make you devoted to them and only them. Neither candidate is really perfect, but while I have my concerns about why there are no fresh candidates on either side of the political isle, and more concerns about dynasties and whether they are good for the country, I’ve been made uncomfortably aware of another issue that I had not expected to rear its ugly head. What could that be, you say?

While watching the chaos, I’ve been horrified to see videos of men selling shirts that promote ‘spanking’ the female in the race.

With everything controversial that has been happening with both candidates, am I really worried about this issue? Is it a big deal?

Yes. Yes, it is. So many have fought, sacrificed, and even died in the pursuit of our constitutional amendment providing the legal rights to equality. It’s a shame that we still haven’t made it a reality as it does not honor those that sacrificed so much to provide the possibility of equality.

Equality is a fundamental underpinning to just about everything I’ve ever tried to accomplish, and I find I just cannot ignore it or let it pass unaddressed. If this happened in my workplace, or even just a verbal with no shirt, I’d have a sexual harassment suit to end all suits and own the joker marginalizing me and trying to undermine my status as a professional. I don’t remember Bob Dole, John Kerry or any other male politician in recent history who had to have a caricature of his backside (or other bits) to make the point that they were not deemed competent for the biggest job in the nation.

My friends who will vote for him are quick to cry ‘he can’t control what other people do!” Not true. The male candidate has the ability to say ‘hey, I don’t’ want that guy in there selling those shirts, because I don’t disrespect women–so I believe that candidate is culpable whether he personally sells the stupid thing. What’s more–that candidate could take a stand for women and my friends who are going to vote for him will STILL DO IT. He risk NOTHING by discouraging such backwards attitudes, and yet he still lets it go on. That communicates louder than words that he condones the sentiment.

There’s one reason, and one reason only why this was allowed in what ought to be a professional setting. OMG! What do you mean? What on earth could be the reason for so disrespecting your opponent when competing for a job?

The great reason? She’s a woman.  Well, she might be wearing a short skirt (analogy for being a public figure), but that doesn’t mean it is okay to treat her that way.  No matter how you vote, the fact that an example of misogyny in the work-place is being practiced right before our eyes.

While it is just as bad form when women emasculate men, it was nice to see the tables turned in this specific situation. When another group posted naked statues of the male in the race and you had to use a magnifier to see his naughty bits and the rolls of fat made you shudder for the trophy-wives past, it was a way to show the men in the race that if you open that door–you too may be fair game. Men are just as sensitive about the size of their bits and bobs as we are, and I doubt anyone so sensitive about the size of his hands isn’t just as sensitive about the size of….erm…other things.

Why this matters beyond politics…our young women are getting mixed signals and some are ultimately deciding to forgo modern roles in favor of antiquated ones that limit their potential in society.  I write about strong, empowered women, who are capable of doing really important things, and who do not shy away from challenges or adversity. No matter how many strong, empowered, brilliant female characters we may read about in novels, when a lot of young women set those novels down, they go back to believing they cannot compete with men or have to marry in order to secure a middle class life.

Knowing that there are still huge numbers of people out there who feel this way? Strips all the hope for our daughters out of the world. Society still holds girls back, and even without intentionally doing so, grandmothers, mothers and of course men, are sending them messages like ‘you’ll never earn more than a man’ or ‘you can be the woman behind the man’.

When will our society accept our ability to be equal to men? The answer may be when we finally believe it ourselves.

We need to obliterate those rose colored glasses. You know the ones, they fill your eyes with the illusion of an easier, domestic-bliss-filled-life.  June Cleaver didn’t have an easier road. That is a myth. June cold have been anything at all, lead children or nations. Managed household projects, or major engineering projects. Ward, if he loved her, would have cheered her on.

The idea that our young women are not capable of become leaders is just not true, and what’s worse, their best champions and cheerleaders seem to perpetuate the myth that it is unfeminine to be bold. That’s just stupid, and I’ve never had a lot of patience with stupid.

I think we need to send a different message to our boys and girls, obviously the one about all of us being equal isn’t getting through the massive cultural conditioning. The fact that there could be any great number of knuckle-dragging cave dwellers at those rallies, buying those spanking shirts, is frankly alarming. Do they hide in underground bunkers in the off-season? No, they live in the real world, probably in the cube next to you or even more likely, in the corner office, deciding whether you have the ability to be promoted.

My day job is in male dominated field. Sometimes they just don’t ‘see me’ in that leadership role. It held me back for years until I finally broke free and started my own company (and proved I could actually do what they were so afraid I couldn’t do). Afraid is the word too. They didn’t trust me, didn’t trust that I could handle the job, manage the people involved, etc. As a consequence, they lost out on everything I had to offer, as every client I gained for myself….could have been theirs and added to the companies’ bottom line.

I read a very intelligent article discussing this matter recently. In it, the author pointed out that we are trustworthy enough to raise society’s young, nurse men, children and the elderly when sick and have all manner of responsibility for running anyone/everyone’s lives, but when it comes to leadership, men, and sadly, some women, believe women can’t be trusted.

Well those of you who long for the ‘good old days’, I got a news flash for you.

Germany is run by a woman today.

Britain was run by a woman twenty years ago.

The USA is way behind other first world nations because seizing power is seen as ‘unfeminine’.

I’m not particularly disappointed in the current jerk running for office. I never had high hopes for him to begin with. I’m not even angry. I’d call my current mood ‘intensely frustrated’. I’m frustrated that it is 2016 and women are not seen as good enough, or taken seriously by hordes and hordes of knuckle-dragging throwbacks.  It worries the crap out of me. I have nieces. I’d like to see them have just as much potential as their male colleagues someday. Right now, on average we make 20% less than men. Susan B. Anthony would be appalled that over a century later, after all her efforts, we still don’t have equal standing in our society. The reason for that persistent discrimination is that we happen to own the ability to create another human being, a fact that ought to elevate us to near-God like status but is instead used to marginalize our ability to contribute to the work-force.

I hope I see real equality in the workplace (reflected in equal pay) before I die, but recent emboldened comments by before-mentioned knuckle draggers makes me truly doubt I will. How many girls will read about their fictional kick-butt heroines, only to grow up depressed that the only place they can have that kind of life is when projecting themselves into the pages of a novel. I pray that it changes, for while it is too late for me to reap the rewards, I’d die knowing it didn’t stay this way, and that would make me very happy.


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