Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ladies, Show me Your Cajones?

Let's talk women. More specifically, let's talk women's rights.

Some people, undoubtedly, believe that having the right to vote ends the equality discussion. And yet, just as legal equality for African Americans didn't immediately solve culture and color issues -  American women still struggle with what it truly means to be equal (see, Roe v Wade).

Don't get me wrong, I understand how lucky I am to live in America. But I also know how lucky women were to get the vote in the first place. Not only did it come down to one last-minute swing vote, but blackmail is what finally convinced Wilson to publically support the ammendment. That's it.

And, if you don't think we still have a long way to go, you obviously haven't been paying attention to the (outdated) social stereotypes that still shape the way we view women today.

Examples include: 
1.) The most important day of a woman's life is her wedding day, nevermind her desire to graduate from Harvard.
2.) In marriage, a woman will submit to the will of her husband as head of household. It is also her duty to take care of the household - even if she provides equally to it's bank account.  
3.) There is something intrinsically wrong with a woman who doesn't want children.
4.) A woman climbing the corporate ladder must be one of two things: a complete bitch or the office slut
(By the way, there are still wage gaps between men and women in the same positions).
5.) Any tomboy-like behavior means she is a dyke
(... because people are so easily defined and her sexual orientation happens to be your business ...)
6.) Sexually confident women are sluts; sexually confident men are men.

Note: I understand that the stereotypes listed above are general, but they are also widely accepted in the conservative community. Need I remind anyone that America is, in fact, a conservative nation?

Rush Limbaugh personifies this stereotype perfectly. Though you may not like him, I think he's just more honest. What's worse than the things he says most of the time, is that we allow it (not as in 'freedom of speech,' but culturally)!

Look at the state of women's rights in 80% of the rest of the world. If we're supposed to be setting the example, we've got to step it up. Afghanistan allows husbands to murder their wives for any reason. What's the worth of an inked thumb, if atrocities like this are silently accepted by democratic nations?

I volunteer at the only Safehouse in Colorado Springs. That means that for 700,000 inhabitants, there are only 32 beds available at one time. Think of all the possible battered women and children a city of 700,000 people can offer ... and all we can muster up is 32 beds and 1 non-profit organization. It's the perfect illustration of our denial to accept that there's a problem. Why am I so aware? Because everytime I voluteer, I see first-hand that equality doesn't just come from an ammendment.

The other day a regular at my bar told a typical joke: "What do you tell a woman with two black eyes? Nothing you haven't already told her twice." All the men laughed.

I was too surprised to respond. I wanted to say, "You know what? I volunteer at a Safehouse and seeing someone walk in with two black eyes isn't funny." I wanted to say, "You know what we say to the girl with two black eyes? That we're sorry the law works against her. That he has to be caught trying to kill her, for the law to work." Of course, my punchlines aren't really funny, are they?

True equality, true freedom comes from having the cajones to react to your gag reflex when it comes to jokes like that. True equality will come when being politically correct isn't seen as a pain in the ass, but necessary. Equality will come when sticking up for ourselves won't be met with contempt, but respect; when a strong woman won't be seen as a threat, but an asset to the society.  

As for the next time he says something like that, I won't be caught off gaurd. He'll get the mental equivalent to punch in the mouth and he won't get an apology for it. Maybe then, I'll feel a little bit better about my part in the on-going fight for equality. 'Cause it's not as easy as an ammendment ... it's about baby steps ... it's about cajones.