It’s still a man’s world and I’m fecking well sick of it
If attempting to make the world a civilized one, makes you a bad woman in the eyes of the dumb patriarchal society, then, by all means, be it.
Abhijit Naskar, The Bengal Tigress: A Treatise on Gender Equality
I hear on a pretty frequent basis from mostly conservative, younger women that this country, at least, has made enormous strides in not just official but also cultural women’s rights and you bet, that’s true. I was born in 1955 and grew to young womanhood in the 50s, 60s and 70s and I guarantee you, we have. But not only are we not done, we aren’t a hell of a lot as far along as we think we are.
Recently we moved to our little patch of heaven. It’s a titch over one and a quarter acres of land and 1100 or so square feet of 1938 bungalow fixer. I have never been so in love with a property in my life and being able to come home to it is as close to heaven as I ever expect to get without having a grandchild or two nearby.
Of course it didn’t take long for the real estate people to sell our info to any and all comers — lord love our agent, she has to make a living and it’s standard. What shocked me was what you will see next.
I have long posited that it’s by small things that larger stories are told and I would like to offer up Exhibit A:
Yup, there it is, the US culture’s take on the status of women in living color, sent by US mail. You will see me on the house title and deed — at least once it’s paid off. You will see my name exclusively on the bills, too — hubby mysteriously insisted they all be in my name only (still not sure why). I guarantee you the post office knows I live here. But apparently, to the rest of the world, the commercial one in particular, the only person living here who matters is the one with between-the-leg danglies. Chest danglies are an apparent disqualifier. For feck’s sake.
In case you might be wondering if this is merely the commercial world, fear not. This shite has been institutionalized in our government on all sorts of levels. For your perusal, I submit Exhibit B:
Yes. Right there on our tax returns there is a “You” (him) and the “Spouse” (me), thus enshrining the sacred concept that the standard human is male and if he is married, the female is simply a legal appendage, lesser in worth, whose value only counts when added to that of the male.
Once more, with feeling. Are. You. Fecking. KIDDING ME?
You think our governmental misogyny ends there? Oh, no. Unless they’ve changed it, and I quite doubt it, the US Census is no better. Last time I filled one out, it asked for a head of household, by which they meant — is there a man there? If you do, they assume he’s the head, otherwise your household has clearly suffered the tragedy of being headed by a woman.
And you wonder why the ERA hasn’t been passed? Why this country wouldn’t elect a wildly qualified female presidential candidate and preferred a monstrous, narcisstic sociopath who openly bragged about assaulting women? (Oh, yes, America — let’s show the world exactly how much we value women by electing to the presidency a man who stated “You can grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything…” See the Wikipedia on it.)
The fact is we aren’t going to make it to fully equal status in this country while our secondary status as appendage to our male owners (they may or may not buy into that, but it’s entrenched legally) is alive and well and used to devalue us as full human beings. It’s that simple.
What can we do? Contact the companies that leave us off the mailings and make it very clear that if they can’t even put our names on the mail we get for a jointly owned property, we will do not business with them.
Contact our representatives and the IRS to protest the current structure of the tax forms because, believe me, listing us as lesser partners in a marriage does form the attitudes we have to live with.
Contact our reps and the US Census Bureau and make noise about the same issue.
I hear from people on a regular basis that I make too much fuss over little things, but atoms are little things, too, and they form the universe. The names on a mailer may be little, the structure of the IRS and census forms may be as well, but they accumulate with the rest of it to create a world where we are still fighting a battle that our female ancestors have been wrestling with since before the mid-1800s. The first listing of our struggle starts on this Wikipedia in 1838. That’s 189 years of US women’s struggle and we are still considered lesser, adjunct beings on even the simplest of scales.
Folks, that’s just not right. And yes, I am fecking sick to death of it. I have daughters and granddaughters. The idea of watching them live in a world that institutionalizes their secondary status makes me livid.
Doesn’t it you?