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(No, this isn’t a rant about Hillary Clinton. This is about being a woman.)
Not long ago, I was taken aback by comments I read on social media regarding the then real possibility that the United States could have a female president and a female vice president. Those people posting (men and women) were aghast, as though someone had suggested beagle puppies should run the country.
Okay, aside from what anyone thinks about particular female candidates and their leadership qualifications, the fact at the bottom of the barrel remains: in this day and age, in this modern society, women are often not viewed as equal human beings. As one of these strange creatures myself (yes, I am a woman), I’m concerned.
I get it that people have been taught that women are designed to be subordinate to men. They accept that a female’s capacity for reproduction (whether that capacity is functional or not) disqualifies her as a full partner or supervisor to men. The fact that brain research as well as research into the stamina and pain tolerance of the female body do not support this view doesn’t make the belief less powerful. Beliefs are based on what the follower accepts as higher authority.
As a middle child in a family of all girls, I had to be told what being female was supposed to mean. My sisters and I mowed the lawn, painted the fence, helped my dad build our garage, paddled canoes, etc. My mother ran the family—including all the accounting. Meanwhile, my grandmother who ran tough businesses of her own told me ladies shouldn’t wear pants, and my mother warned me that I should walk with little steps to appear more feminine. When the boys in school told me girls were inferior when I could match or beat them in any subject but physical education, I thought it was a joke.
In her book America’s Women, Gail Collins writes, “The history of American women is…a struggle to straighten out the perpetually mixed message about women’s role…” She describes numerous examples through the ages when women have been expected to embrace their image as being delicate, flighty, inconstant, dependent, and dense about practical matters—until circumstances required them to step in to take over roles in business, field work, factories, warfare—WHATEVER. In the colonies, for instance, a pregnant woman was pampered only until she was needed to help in the fields or to fight. Female pilots in WWII could be in danger of being shot out of the sky as they towed targets for novice male pilots, but they weren’t allowed to wear pants off base. No wonder many of us women feel confused. We’re less as long as we aren’t needed to be more. What?
I’ve previously mentioned my own experiences with job discrimination and sexual harassment, so I won’t repeat them. But did you ever take a car in for service and be forced to wait all day while “more important” male customers’ cars received attention? I have and that’s only one puny example out of many.
So, to those who view women as less because we can reproduce, I repeat that women are designed with more capacity for communication, cooperation, and community, but we aren’t beagles. We’ve proven ourselves time and time again throughout history as leaders, warriors, negotiators—regular human beings. Forget the stories; look at the facts. Take us as individuals, because that’s what we are, as men are—sometimes superb, sometimes horrible, and usually somewhere in between. We can step up.