Our heartfelt attempts at cheer and goodwill this holiday season bark their knees—if they had knees—on reports like Name It. Change It. Just when we wanted to forget all about misogyny comes this portent reminder that it is always with us, especially in the various forms of media I attempt to ignore but which bathe our country in a bath of vitriol.
How tragic it is that all these years after the resurgence of the women’s movement in the 1970’s (and it had hardly lain dormant before that), we are still shy about naming the discrimination we see on every hand! How many of us have silently witnessed drunken jibes, this season, oblivious comments (all professionals are still assumed to be he’s), compliments on our looks or clothes that carry condescension or even threat like a sting in their long sinuous tails? Surely even those young women who insist that “all that” is a thing of the past have felt uncomfortable under the scrutiny of men in malls, streets, subways, or have noticed as soon as they enter the job market that they are still second class citizens, last hired, first fired, still making a miserable 77 cents to the dollar paid to men. And I suspect that, as domestic abuse increases and is blamed on the misery of men out of work, women who retain their jobs will be blamed not only for continuing to work—robbing a good man who is only trying to support his family!—but also for causing the increase in assaults and battery.
Yet naming it, in silence, while a worthwhile first step, is only a private act. We are called on, now, to name it in public: to question progressive movements like the various Occupy groups that shove women to the sidelines (how often have you heard a woman interviewed from those encampments?), liberal politicians whose most important asset is their wives, philandering candidates who espouse something filmy called Family Values.
Letters to the Editor: yes.
Speaking out during social occasions when we will be met by a wall of silence, inappropriate joking, or worse.
Constant, bone-wearying attempts to support women candidates—but only those who openly oppose the system they are trying to enter: a contradiction in terms.
Well-meaning philanthropy that treats poor women as colonized subjects who should be grateful for our help.
Daughters and granddaughters growing up in blissful ignorance (and this applies particularly to the privileged, fenced about with gates, private schools, resort vacations, first class travel, hired help, and a society that endorses, applauds and admires privilege in all its forms), even when addressing these topics in the perhaps-listening presence of beloved girls raises hackles and creates divisions—
IS ALL THIS TOO MUCH TO ASK?
NOT WHEN WE SPEAK, AND ACT, TOGETHER.