Equality, the new math
“What woman inspired you?”
That question was posed today, National Women’s Day, and I couldn’t think of anyone. It’s not as if I haven’t known, heard, or read about impressive women. But, inspired? Well, there must be someone, I thought. This is ridiculous. I mentally ran down lists of women in my family, women in history, women in the news, until I finally realized that they have collectively inspired me.
The young single mother of five I met who only had a few pieces of furniture, but made sure her children were doing their homework, even if they needed to sit on the floor, and their chore chart was affixed to the refrigerator door. She took the bus to work, as she didn’t own a car, and was taking night classes so she could earn more money to provide a better life for her children, and herself.
As a teenager, my great-aunt Rena, as many other young people, wanted to do everything her older brothers were doing. So, she taught herself to drive a car, and build a house from the foundation up. She pounded nails during the day, and embroidered at night. During a time when a man considered his home his “castle,” where the “little woman” did his bidding, Rena rebelled against social standards, and called off her wedding three days before the event, because she wasn’t “going to have some man telling her what to do.”
But, let’s be honest here. There are female bullies, as well, such as Hillary Clinton. Although I would welcome a woman president, I’d prefer one who isn’t arrogantly self-serving. Oh, how I wish Elizabeth Warren was running; she’s “cherce.”
And, for those who think some women exaggerate men’s view towards women, here’s a small example of what I personally experience. While shaking a man’s hand during an introduction, one out of three times, there will be a look of surprise, followed by a patronizing comment, “Oh, you have a firm handshake.” How cute, his eyes twinkle. I’d slug him, but I don’t want to spill my drink. No man is worth that.
I’m a big fan of women making statements in creative ways. Take, for example, those fabulous Icelandic women who, in October 1975, went on a 24-hour strike – both professionally and at the home front – to protest wage discrepancies, and unfair employment practices. They didn’t show up at the workplace, nor did they perform their usual household “duties.”
When the day arrived, 90 percent of Icelandic women participated. There was no telephone service. Newspapers were not printed, because all the typesetters were women. Theaters shut down, because actresses refused to work. Schools closed, or operated at limited capacity, because the majority of teachers were female. Airline flights were cancelled, because flight attendants did not work that day. Bank executives had to work as tellers to keep the banks open, because the female tellers had taken the day off. … Meanwhile, the men had to take their kids to work, and provide them with food, because daycares were closed, and women would not do any of the work they normally did at home. … Gender inequality is still an issue in Iceland, and every ten years, on the anniversary of this initial strike, women stop all work to demonstrate their important positions, and continue the struggle for equality.
Global Nonviolent Action Database,
Two lovely women whom I admire are author Jenny Lawson and songwriter/musician/author Amanda Palmer. They have each shared their daily struggles, and accomplishments, with honesty and humor, which have endeared them to legions of followers, who no longer feel alone. And, their fans are not limited to women, which is why I love them so much.
In the end, beyond our gender, we are each unique individuals, and it’s time we started treating each other that way.