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Green Eyed

Recently I’ve had something on my mind that I can’t quite shake. It came out of a conversation with Meg at A Practical Wedding, and this post in particular. She was writing about the self, and how women tend to undervalue themselves, and she briefly touched on how women also seem to hold each other down, or at least fail in lifting each other up, in surprising frequency.

Meg’s post was (I think) supposed to leave me feeling empowered, or at least remind me that I need to work on valuing myself more, expecting more for my talents and wares, etc. Instead, I’ve been chewing on anger and frustration.

The people who commented were great, uplifting cheerleaders for strong women everywhere. Some of them mentioned how they were just having this discussion with themselves in their own heads, or with friends. They mentioned how they struggle with balancing all of their lady-hats (mom, wife, employee, employer, writer, designer, etc) and how even with all of that juggling they never feel they are doing enough, or at least doing enough to deserve anything beyond a certain point with money. There was a resounding cheer of “yes! we need to acknowledge that we a) have a problem with valuing ourselves monetarily and b) we often judge other women for working too hard or being too focused on motherhood or even (dare I say) getting paid too much (what did she do for THAT raise, I wonder?).”

So why am I so frustrated? What she is talking about, and what all of those comments said were good and progressive. But maybe I’m inpatient. They were just comments. And it’s easy to say “woo hoo!” on a blog post and then turn around and judge the other woman in the office for getting the promotion, or the other mom who is on her blackberry while she takes her kids to the park, or the woman who has dogs and no children but a stunning business career because “she really must have such an empty life without a family”. What is wrong with us? Seriously. Men can be single forever with boats and ridiculous cars that cost more than a large house, and unless he’s a total ass hole, nobody finds that odd or sad. Men actually help their buddy’s in business, that’s why they call it the boys club.

And maybe I’m still pissed and shocked by one experience in college (way back somewhere between 2003-2006) that summed up a lot of smaller instances I’ve seen for my entire life. I was taking a women’s studies course on language and rhetoric (it counted for speech without having me actually get up in front of anyone). On the first day of class the professor asked how many people in the class considered themselves feminist. The class was about 30 people large. I was the only person to raise my hand.

I was the only person to raise my hand. The only one.

And when the professor asked some of the women in the class why they didn’t consider themselves a feminist, they said because we didn’t need to feminists anymore, that it meant being a man hater, that saying you were a feminist meant you wanted to be better than men, that you were a lesbian, that we were already equal so what more could women ask for?

There is this whole perception in mainstream America that women are silly. We like romance novels, and twilight movies, and shoes, and over sized bags and over sized sunglasses. We’ll know more about eyeliner than world events, and god forbid you show up to our door with anything serious, like the news, we may just have a spell.

I freaking love shoes, and I read every single twilight book, but I have educated opinions, two degrees, I deserve equal pay for doing the same work as the guy next to me, and the only thing that makes women silly is when we don’t have each others back, when we keep each other down by feeding the fire of “you don’t deserve that”, when we are too jealous of the lady next to us to allow her the chance of breaking through the glass ceiling. It’s hard, but it doesn’t actually start here, reading this. It starts when you can feel the jealousy for another woman’s successes and instead of wishing that she fails, you push her up even further, you push yourself further to match her success without pulling her down, when you’re faced with putting something or someone down because it’s feminine, don’t. Be stronger than that, we all need to be stronger than that. And it really has nothing to do with lighting undergarments on fire.

11 Comments

  1. I really, really love this post. I had the same experience in college- I hate having to defend my pride/sense of worth for my gender against my love for deodorant and hairless legs.

    Sing it, sister.

  2. As a gender-studies minor (which I referred to as the “angry vagina” minor, not for the content, but for the people who enrolled in it.) I wholeheartedly agree. I think this should be incorporated into your life list, yes?

    Besides, my bras are expensive and I’m busty. I’m not setting that s**t on fire, that much flaming stain will burn down the whole damn house.

    • I love this! hahaha. and Yes, I think this should be on my life list…. I just have to figure out exactly what I want to say. sigh… always my problem ;)

  3. YES. I have had this exact same experience. It drives me crazy. I actually got into a giant argument on Saturday night with two drunkies (stupid, stupid, stupid, never argue with drunkies) who were claiming that women had everything and now were going AHEAD of men because they could just flash their tits and get whatever they wanted. I saw red and literally almost kicked one of them into the fire.
    So yes on treating women as equal and being a help to each other even if we’re jealous. No to catting.

  4. This is so necessary – a good friend and I were talking the other day about how when we are asked why feminism is still relevant, we simply say that it is because we aren’t there yet (when true equality exists, feminism won’t be necessary). We have made gains, however there is still work to be done – pay equity aside, we still need to push for the role of women in society to be opened and for the playing field to be leveled with respect to … respect (from both men and women).

    I think a lot of people don’t understand that feminism isn’t about hating the other side and it isn’t about the ability to wear pants or “do a man’s job” or be promiscuous. It is about equality first and foremost – and not just for gender. Feminists push for racial and sexual equality as well. Feminists think about the role of women locally and globally and strive for a world where gender is not ignored (both men and women are valuable members of society) but is not something that determines how people treat you or what your future holds.

    More understanding about what feminism is, and a LOT more support and understanding from women will make this possible.

    Thanks for the post!

  5. I’ve said this a bunch of times (once in a rhetoric class, and no one got it), but I’ll say it a bunch more if I have to. Women do themselves a disservice as long as they treat the ladies’ room as a battleground instead of the barracks.

    • I love that analogy! Plus there’s alliteration so that always gets me excited. :)

  6. Just found my way here from APW. So glad you wrote this post. Because you’re right. And so is Vee up there. LOVE that analogy!

  7. Found my way here from APW and you can expect me to be a frequent visitor. ;) I work in an environment full of men. It drives me crazy that me giving them direction or asking for what I need, as a women, is being b*tchy, but as a man, he would just be confident or good at his job. And women putting down other women is just nonsense.

    I still like my guy to carry out the garbage, though. And I do like big handbags. :)

  8. My boyfriend takes out the trash for two reasons:

    1) I’m not going into that alley alone at night, because I am a small woman
    2) I work in an antique/furniture store and I injured my back proving to anyone watching/myself/my (large, male) boss that I was just as capable at moving furniture as any man. And I am… until I forget to lift with my legs. And now I need to ask customers to help me with anything weighing more than ten pounds.

    I feel so sad for women who don’t know they’re feminists.

    -Emily, another APW-sent visitor!

    p.s. Thank you for posting the Krystal Ball article! I somehow hadn’t heard of her yet. What an incredible role model.

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Who the hell is she?


Lauren

I am a writer living in Seattle and I believe that life is a grand adventure and only boring if you believe it to be. Plus! You don't need money to have fun.

I live with my husband, a photographer by education and a maker-of-video-games by trade, and a baby named gabe in an apartment on the hill.

I am romantic about most things and I cry... about almost anything. I tell stories to entertain you, I spread stories to keep you in the loop. I am not a grammar freak, but I do know how to spell it. I am exceedingly proud of my scrambled eggs and I really could eat an entire pan of cupcakes. If I met me, I would be my best friend. I tend to be irreverent.

If you would like to chat with me or see what else I'm up to you can follow me on Twitter (betterinrealife), on facebook, or email me at betterinrealife at gmail.


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