We are our worst enemies and most relentless detractors.

3 Jun

There have been plenty of conversations before, and there will be many more in the future, about how women are women’s worst enemies. We tend to frame it in the context of rabid imbeciles, like Ann Coulter, who preach the “family values” of a world in which their opinions would not be heard, because women would be silent chattel.

But it truly is the insidious, pervasive, internalized misogyny that so many of us don’t notice–and therefore don’t question–that hinders any progress towards any kind of meaningful equality.

Yesterday, as I was driving toward the new job, I had the opportunity (for the first time in years) to listen to one of those meant-t0-cheer-you-up morning radio shows. At some point in the show, the hosts discussed the relative bravery of men and women–and after hearing the exchange, I remember nothing else of the show.

It went something like this (paraphrasing, I don’t quite remember the exact words used):

Male: So men are braver than women in most areas…well, that’s not quite true, is it? I mean…

Female: Well, it used to be, but not so much these days.

I’m pretty sure most people would not think anything of this. There is little overtly inflammatory there, right? And yet, I saw red.

Excuse me…used to be that males were braver than females? Seriously? Because human nature has changed in the past…what, decade? generation? century?

Because these days women are allowed to enroll in the military–while in the past they did it anyway, only either had to lie (how many women soldiers fought in the Civil War in the US again?), or were reviled throughout their lives, never mind whether or not society/government/the powers that were found them useful while at the same time putting them down.

I’m aware I’m being judgemental myself when I wonder, which world do the people who honestly think that women haven’t, always, been as brave as men, live in?

Through the ages, women from poor families have often been left behind (voluntarily or driven by necessity or war) by the men in their families, either pregnant or already with children, to cope as best they can in a world that consistently grants them fewer rights and considers them less-than men–any man. Or if born to the privileged classes, they were often trapped by a convention that precluded them from working, condemned to be forever dependent on their male relatives, and required to be both graciously resigned and cheerfully grateful for charity, while languishing in genteel poverty (Jane Austen, anyone?).

It is harder, so much fucking harder, to simply survive in a world where everything reminds you that, for most of the people around you, you are not quite a person–at any rate, never as much a person as the male next to you–that it takes true valor to get up every day and keep at it, day after day after motherfucking day.


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