Friends, misogyny has got me down (that, and the stomach flu). The political events of the last couple weeks have made me realize that there is still so. much. work. for us feminists. And I feel sad. And mad.
I don’t want to rehash the events of the recent U.S. election, there is much pithy analysis on this topic and I don’t have much to add. What I’ve really been thinking though is about is my own experience of misogyny, and my friends’ experiences.
In my working life, I rarely experience overt misogyny. However, it’s a thousand paper cuts that eventually add up (I should pause here to say that my husband is a committed feminist). It’s the uncle who told me I wouldn’t be a good lawyer, when he found out I was going to law school (though to be fair, he’s kind of a jerk anyways). It’s that, in my professional life, I use my first initials in the signature line of my letters instead of my first name (I get less push back when people don’t know my gender). It’s the lawyer who knew that I was lead counsel on a case, but when we were in court would only talk to my male colleague who had literally come to carry heavy boxes of documents for me (I was 8 1/2 months pregnant). It’s my best friend who, in a performance review was told that her work was great, but that she was unprofessional because she “smiled too much” and “tilted her head when she listened”. It’s another friend who was harassed by a male student on Twitter, and it took way too long for the school to deal with it. It’s that glass ceiling that we all know is definitely still there.
So, what can we do? I don’t want to mope around anymore (though I think it’s still ok to feel sad and mad). I think the first thing, the most basic thing, is we need to do is commit to being feminists, and to having some tough conversations with our family and friends who are on the fence. I think we need to d give them a shake, and tell them to wake up. I know I need to stop being polite, and pretending it’s ok for people I know to say they aren’t feminists because, COME ON.
Feminism isn’t tricky, or complicated. It’s the belief that men and women are equal. If you strip away the more complicated theories about feminism, all that is left is a simple belief in equality. I hope that, framed in such stark terms, feminism is the obvious choice. I can’t imagine that I have friends or family who don’t believe in the basic equality between men and women. And I hope you don’t either.
Of course, there is much more work to be done than simply committing to feminism, but it’s a good start.