The Democrat party would have us believing that there is a vast conspiracy by Republican, white men to take women out of public life, put them in a burka-like covering, chain them to the kitchen stove and reduce them to a baby-producing machine.
I will not argue that there isn’t a misogynistic battle that many women are fighting each day though, and it has zero to do with the above. Women are and have been breaking glass ceilings left, right, and center. Truly, how many of you knew that the first self-made female millionaire in this country was black? Not only was she black (and her name was Madame C. J. Walker) but she was the first child in her family born free – 1867, in Louisiana. I’m sure she had to fight for what she earned, and women today owe a lot to women like her. i think it’s safe to say that battle is pretty well won. Women really can be anything they like…
…unless they want to be like the women in the magazines in the grocery store. Or in advertisements at the mall. That’s where one of the real battlegrounds of the “war on women” is fought. Women will starve, pluck, dye, paint, and go under the knife in an attempt to look like Cindy Crawford. Cindy Crawford, who once said that even she wished she looked like Cindy Crawford. That ought hint at something.
There is hope. Never was I more amazed than the day I had the following exchange with my brother. (Names have been changed to protect the guilty. Or innocent. Forget it. I changed the names.) I wrote up the following on Facebook and thought it to be worth sharing here, as well.
Little Brother, I’m going to apologize right now, because I’m probably going to embarrass the hell out of you. But you shouldn’t be. I’m freaking proud of you, baby brother. I don’t know where you learned what you did, but I think it’s important and I’m going to share it.
I almost didn’t, because I know he’s going to blush. Then I thought about it, and thought about it, and decided to share it anyway, because NOT sharing it is the reason women usually feel the way they do. They DON’T hear it. It’s the reason I do, a lot of the time, despite what others tell me. This isn’t the most eloquent or funny thing I’ve ever written, but there’s a whole lot of truth behind it.
We were standing in the kitchen, and he was chugging down either a pre- or post- workout protein shake. I asked him to go to the store with me, and he declined, asking why I even needed to go to the grocery store when I could have that sort of deliciousness instead (my point exactly) as he flexed his biceps. If you have not seen Little Brother lately, his biceps are about as big as my thighs. Somehow, the conversation deviated onto women working out. Little Brother has two jobs, both in very, very male-dominated fields. He relayed the following:
“One of the ladies at work not too long ago asked a bunch of the guys if we thought she was fat. We thought she was out of her mind. She’s curvy. Like, normal curvy. Pretty curvy. Don’t women realize guys like curves? Or rather, guys like women, however the hell you’re shaped and we think you’re sexy? Photoshop is ridiculous.”
I almost fell over.
From the time we’re what, five? we’re told that if we’re not thin enough, if we’re not skinny enough, if our hair isn’t straight enough, if it’s not curly enough, if our thighs touch, if our stomachs aren’t flat enough, if our boobs aren’t big enough, if our boobs are too big, if our eyes aren’t blue enough, if we don’t do this and we do too much of that, then we’re not GOOD enough. We’re not worthy of love. We’re not pretty. No one will want to be with us. Be friends with us. We won’t succeed academically or in the workplace. If we want to be mothers, we fail. If we want to have careers, we fail. If we don’t carry this brand of purse or wear that high of a heel, we fail. If we wear glasses, we fail. We wear contacts, we fail. Spend the day in a tshirt and yoga pants? Fail. Prefer to read scifi over British Lit? Fail. Prefer British Lit over 12th Century Arctic Woman’s Studies? Fail. Like cat videos? Fail. Don’t like cat videos? Fail. Vegan? Fail. Carnivore? Double fail.
My brother, my 24-year old brother, a freakin’ cop who hauls grain and loves zombies and American history and bailed my arse out at the theatre more times than I can count, has seen through all that.
In this particular battlefield, we are our own worst enemies. Maybe it’s time we take a look around and realize that men are not the bad guys, but our allies, and that the ones we know – the ones that count – very well might just like us just the way we are. Warts, unshaved legs, flip-flops, and all.